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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Harpers Choice Middle School

5450 BEAVERKILL RD, COLUMBIA, MD., 21044 | Grades 6-8

Districts with 3,000 or more students
Students Total Teachers Inexp. Teachers
This School
District 50.4K 3,705 12%
State 826K 56,262 11%
State Average
District Average

Percentage of relevant students who...

Get Free/Reduced Price Lunch



Are in a Gifted/Talented Program





0% Am Indian

8% Asian

41% Black

12% Hispanic

31% White

Harpers Choice Middle School, part of the Howard County Public Schools district, is located in Columbia, Maryland. The school reports enrolling 510 students in grades six through eight, and it has 47 teachers on staff.

Harpers Choice Middle School is below the state average but above the district average for the percentage of its students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. On average, 34 percent of students in Maryland qualify for free or reduced-price lunch programs, whereas 27 percent of Harpers Choice Middle School students qualify. At the district level, 13 percent of students qualify.

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.

Harpers Choice Middle School's enrollment rate for gifted and talented is 31 percent.

Booker T. Washington Middle School, in Baltimore, Md., is a higher-poverty school than Harpers Choice Middle School, with 89 percent of its students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The school enrolls 6 percent of students in its gifted and talented program.

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