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Communities with educated populations are more productive, more innovative, and earn higher salaries.1 When compared to the state and the nation, Lincoln has more residents with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees. In Lincoln, an increasing number of child care providers are enrolled in quality improvement initiatives. This should lead to improved educational outcomes for a larger number of children. Lincoln Public Schools’ enrollment has been growing.

Lincoln Public School students score higher than the state averages for third grade language arts and eighth grade math proficiencies.2 However, national research suggests that student learning was negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.3,4 While all Nebraska public school districts offered in-person learning options for their students during the 2020-21 school year, students’ educational achievement appears to have been impacted by the pandemic whether learning in person or remotely.5 Third grade language arts proficiency has declined somewhat since 2018.

Graduating from high school gives students the opportunity to earn a higher income and leads to good health.6,7,8 Although educational attainment is highly correlated with income and occupation, research suggests that education is the strongest predictor of health outcomes.7,8 However, Lincoln Public Schools’ graduation rate remains below both the national and statewide average.

From the earliest standardized tests through graduation rates, students of color and students from low-income households experience disparities in educational achievement and attainment. Nationally, research indicates that barriers to equal educational achievement and attainment include ongoing racial segregation, unequal school resources, unequal academic opportunities, and family economic status.9,10,11 Research also suggests that disparities in educational achievement by race/ethnicity and income were often exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.4


1.  Glaeser, E. (2011). Triumph of the city. Penguin Books.
2.  The Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) is the statewide assessment system for English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science that public schools have administered since the 2016-17 school year. It is not comparable to the older NeSA (Nebraska State Accountability) assessment. The ELA and mathematics NSCAS test administered in Spring 2021 was shortened to preserve instructional time due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-participants were also not representative of the whole population. These factors, in addition to changes in enrollment and differences in NSCAS participation rates, complicates direct comparisons to previous NSCAS data.
3.  Lewis, K., Kuhfeld, M., Ruzek, E., & McEachin, A. (2021). Learning during COVID-19: Reading and math achievement in the 2020-21 school year. Center for School and Student Progress. https://www.nwea.org/content/uploads/2021/07/Learning-during-COVID-19-Reading-and-math-achievement-in-the-2020-2021-school-year.research-brief-1.pdf
4.  Kuhfeld, M., Soland, J., Tarasawa, B., Johnson, A., Ruzek, E., & Liu, J. (2020). Projecting the potential impact of COVID-19 school closures on academic achievement. Educational Researcher. 49(8), 549-565. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X20965918
5.  Nebraska Department of Education. (2021). COVID-19 special report: Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) results 2020-2021. https://www.launchne.com/20-21/covid-19-special-report/
6.  U.S. Census Bureau. (2002). The big payoff: Educational attainment and synthetic estimates of work-life earnings (Report No. P23-210). The Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2002/demo/p23-210.pdf
7.  Freudenberg, N. & Ruglis, J. (2007). Reframing school dropout as a public health issue. Preventing Chronic Disease, 4(4), A107.
8.  Zajacova, A. & Lawrence, E. (2018). The relationship between education and health: Reducing disparities through a contextual approach. Annual Review of Public Health, 39(1), 273-289. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031816-044628
9.  Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2006). Race matters: How race affects education opportunities. https://assets.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-racemattersEDUCATION-2006.pdf
10.  Entwisle, D. R., & Alexander, K. L. (1992). Summer setback: Race, poverty, school composition, and mathematics achievement in the first two years of school. American Sociological Review, 57(1), 72-84. doi: 10.2307/2096145
11.  Hernandez, D. J. (2011). Double jeopardy: How third-grade reading skills and poverty influence high school graduation. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation.
12.  Step Up to Quality Child Care Act, Nebraska Revised Statute 71-1961.
13.  Lesnick, J., Goerge, R. M., Smithgall, C., & Gwynne, J. (2010). Reading on grade level in third grade: How is it related to high school performance and college enrollment? Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. https://www.chapinhall.org/wp-content/uploads/Reading_on_Grade_Level_111710.pdf
14.  Fiester, L. (2013). Early warning confirmed: A research update on third-grade reading. Annie E. Casey Foundation. https://assets.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-EarlyWarningConfirmed-2013.pdf
15.  In general, students are eligible for free lunch if their household income is less than 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and eligible for reduced lunch if their household income is less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. In the 2020-21 school year, students in a family of four with a household income less than $34,450 would be eligible for free lunch, and those with a household income less than $49,025 would be eligible for reduced lunch. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. (2021). Child nutrition programs: Income eligibility guidelines. Federal Register/Vol. 86, No. 41/Thursday, March 4, 2021. Retrieved 02.07.2022 from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-04/pdf/2021-04452.pdf
16.  This is the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate for the nation, considered the most accurate estimate of four year graduation rates. McFarland, J., Hussar, B., Zhang, J., Wang, X., Wang, K., Hein, S., Diliberti, M., Forrest Cataldi, E., Bullock Mann, F., and Barmer, A. (2019). The Condition of Education 2019 (NCES 2019-144). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 11.12.2019 from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2019144
17. A 100% graduation rate is unlikely, in part because some special education students continue to receive educational services beyond four years of high school, some students graduate but in more than four years, and due to student mobility out of districts and state.
18.  The district dropout rate is calculated by dividing the total number of 7th-12th grade students who dropped out by the official fall enrollment for grades 7-12. A student who dropped out either enrolled in school the previous school year but did not enroll at the beginning of the current school year, has not graduated from high school or completed a state or district-approved education program, or has aged out.