By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — Students (and their parents) in Lincolnshire have a good reason to boast: Collectively, they are the second-smartest group of students in the country, according to an analysis by the New York Times.

Only elementary school students in Lexington, Mass., are smarter, performing 3.8 grades higher than average. In Lincolnshire, students perform 3.5 grades above average.

(Credit: New York Times)

(Credit: New York Times)

The ambitious, interactive work by the Times allows users to plug-in their school district to see how it performs.

However, that really isn’t the point.

What the graphs show, in the clearest of terms, is how parents’ socioeconomic status affects educational outcomes.

Both towns are very rich, among the wealthiest in the country–Lincolnshire, for example, has a median household income of $164,000.

Among the richest districts on the chart: the North Shore enclave of Kenilworth (median income $225,000). Those students perform an impressive 2.5 grades above average.

The idea that poverty is the biggest obstacle to educational success is not a novel concept.

However, the details contained withing the data are striking.

The gap between rich and poor (and white, black and Hispanic) is clearest in north suburban Evanston–more than anyplace in the nation.

The gap between white and black student performance is an astonishing 4.5 grade levels. White students perform 3.9 grades above average, compared with blacks who perform 0.6 grades below average. (Collectively, the students there perform 1.6 grades above average, according to the analysis.)

Evanston Chart

The data also shows that the families of the white students are on the higher end of the socioeconomic scale. Black and Hispanics in Evanston, while not among the poorest in the nation, are well down the income ladder.

To arrive at their conclusions, researchers at Stanford, using The Stanford Education Data Archive looked at 200 million standardized math and reading tests given to third through eighth graders in every state between 2009 and 2012.