Students in Bristol are more than 5 percent more likely to be living in low-income families now than they were in 2006.
In a side-by-side, citywide comparison of the same classes in school two years ago and this year, the percentage of students receiving free or reduced price school lunches rose for each of the four grades where comparisons were possible.
For instance, 36.8 percent of third graders in 2006 were eligible for cheap or free school lunches. This year, that same class, who are now in fifth grade, saw 40.9 percent of the students qualify.
The percentages of students who receive free or lower-priced school lunches is one of the breakdowns available to study the results of the Connecticut Mastery Tests that are given to nearly every student between third and eighth grade.
Because some students move, the makeup of classes changes from year to year, but the overall trend remains clear.
The fourth grade class in 2006, 34.9 percent of students were eligible for the lunch benefit. By the time they got to sixth grade this year, 37.9 percent of the class qualified.
The fifth grade class in 2006 had 33 percent of its students qualify. This year, 33.5 percent were eligible, the smallest increase among the group.
The sixth grade class two years ago had 33.6 percent of students eligible. This year, 35.7 percent of students made the cut.
The increasing rate of poverty has implications for the city's economy as a whole as well as for the educational system.
Students who come from low-income families are much less likely to score well on tests and educators say it takes more money to teach them because they are often lacking the skills that peers from richer homes possess.
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