ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Is Your State Providing Equal Access to Education?

ProPublica analyzed federal education data from the 2009-2010 school year to examine whether states provide high-poverty schools equal access to advanced courses and special programs that researchers say will help them later in life. This is the first nationwide picture of exactly which courses are being taken at which schools and districts across the country. More than three-quarters of all public school children are represented. Read our story and our methodology.

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Shades Valley High School

6100 OLD LEEDS RD, IRONDALE, ALA., 35210 | Grades 9-12

Districts with 3,000 or more students
Students Total Teachers Inexp. Teachers AP Courses
This School
1,425
90
8% 21
District 34.5K 2,329 10% 11
State 611K 39,097 9% 6
 
State Average
 
District Average

Percentage of relevant students who...

Get Free/Reduced Price Lunch

50%
40%

23%

Take at Least One AP Course

12%
15%

29%

AP Pass Rate

42%
25%

29%

Take Advanced Math

15%
16%

19%

Are in a Gifted/Talented Program

9%
8%

5%

Take Chemistry

14%
18%

20%

Take Physics

3%
1%

4%

Participate in sports

31%
0.0%

24%

Are

1%
0%

0% Am Indian
1%
1%

9% Asian
34%
41%

52% Black
4%
4%

3% Hispanic
59%
54%

36% White

Shades Valley High School, part of the Jefferson County district, is located in Irondale, Alabama. The school reports enrolling 1,425 students in grades nine through 12, and it has 90 teachers on staff.

Shades Valley High School is below both the state and district averages in terms of the percentage of its students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. On average, 50 percent of students in Alabama are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch programs, while 23 percent of Shades Valley High School students are eligible. At the district level, 40 percent are eligible.

ProPublica's analysis found that all too often, states and schools provide poor students fewer educational programs like Advanced Placement, gifted and talented programs, and advanced math and science classes. Studies have linked participation in these programs with better outcomes later in life. Our analysis uses free and reduced-price lunch to estimate poverty at schools. We based our findings on the most comprehensive data set of access to advanced classes and special programs in U.S. public schools — known as the Civil Rights Data Set— released by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

Shades Valley High School offers 21 AP courses, and 29 percent of students participate in those classes.

The school's pass rate for AP exams of 29 percent is higher than the district average of 25 percent.

A school's AP pass rate is determined by the number of students who both sat for AP exams and passed some or all of those exams.

Shades Valley High School's enrollment rates in chemistry, physics and advanced math subject areas are 20 percent, 4 percent and 19 percent, respectively. Gifted and talented at the school has an enrollment rate of 5 percent.

Southside High School, in Selma, Ala., is a higher-poverty school than Shades Valley High School, with 94 percent of its students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The school hasn't reported or may not offer AP classes.

These data points were reported by schools and districts to the Office for Civil Rights. For more information about the data, see our full methodology.

— Generated by Narrative Science