Lauen, Douglas Lee, & Gaddis, Michael S.
Exposure to Classroom Poverty and Test Score Achievement: Contextual Effects or Selection?
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
How does exposure to classroom poverty affect student test achievement?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Journal of Sociology
Volume 118 Issue 4 Pp. 943-979
- Cross-sectional methods reveal a substantial negative association between exposures to high-poverty classrooms and test scores; this association grows with grade level, becoming especially large for middle school students. Over time, cumulative effects produce even larger differences between students exposed to higher versus lower poverty classrooms, growing from a -0.082 standardized effect size to -0.429.
- Growth models, however, produce much smaller effects. Including grade level, student characteristics, and interactions reduces the effect of classroom poverty on reading and math achievement.
- Even smaller effects emerge from student fixed-effects models that control for fixed baseline unobservables such as innate ability, early childhood experiences, and mother’s IQ. The effect of high-poverty classrooms on math is not statistically significant and the effect on reading is significant only at p < 0.05. Both math and reading effect sizes have been reduced to less than 0.01 standard deviations. Cumulative effects and continuous poverty effects were also smaller in these models.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Classroom Composition, Context, Poverty, SES Composition
Method of Analysis:
Descriptive Statistics, Fixed Effects Regression Models, Growth Models
North Carolina public school students grade 3 through 8 (2001-2006).
Unit of Analysis:
- The project uses test scores and related data for North Carolina public school students in grade 3 in 2001 and follows those students until grade 8 in 2006. The sample includes over 100,000 third graders in 2001 and 75% of the original sample observed at the last intervention in 2006.
- DV: Math test score and reading test score
- IV: Classroom poverty measures (high-poverty classroom, cumulative exposure to high-poverty classrooms, continuous classroom poverty)
- Controls: student background measures and time variables