Milam, Adam J., & Furr-Holden, Debra
Perceived School and Neighborhood Safety, Neighborhood Violence and Academic Achievement in Urban School Children
Johns Hopkins University
This study utilizes data obtained from the NIfETy Method, child self-report data related to students’ sense of safety, and standardized test scores to better understand the relationship betweenperceived community and school safety, neighborhood violence and school performance in 3rd–5th graders in a mid-Atlantic urban school system.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
The Urban Review
Vol. 42 No. 5 Pp. 458-467
Objective assessments of neighborhood environment and students’ self-reported school and neighborhood safety were both strongly associated with academic performance. Increasing neighborhood violence was associated with statistically significant decreases from 4.2 to 8.7% in math and reading achievement; increasing perceived safety was associated with significant increases in achievement from 16 to 22%.
After controlling for the percent of students receiving free and reduced price lunch there were still strong associations between school climate and academic achievement with a few noteworthy exceptions.
Poverty may be a more important predictor of academic achievement than neighborhood violence.
In the 2005-2006 school year 60% of BCPSS 3rd graders performed at the proficient or advanced levels on the MSA; fewer did so in 5th grade (~52%).
Fifth grade students had lower agreement with feeling safe in the school compared to 3rd and 4th graders.
Neighborhood violence was slightly lower among 5th graders due to a higher proportion of fifth graders in schools within lower violence neighborhoods.
Schools with higher self-reported safety going to and from school had a higher percentage of students passing the reading and math MSA.
Student reports that there were a lot of broken windows, desks, and doors had lower academic achievement (β: −11.0% to −21.1%).
Students reporting that weapon possession, drug and alcohol abuse were problems at their school performed worse on reading and math assessments.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Environment, Math, Neighborhood, Reading, Urban Schools, Violence
Method of Analysis:
Linear Regression Models, Spatial Analysis
Elementary schools in Baltimore
Unit of Analysis:
Neighborhood, School, Student
IV: school and community safety
Objective environmental assessments of neighborhood violence were obtained using data from the NIfETy Method. Data on perceived school and community safety were obtained from the Baltimore City Public School System’s (BCPSS) annual School Climate Survey (SCS), which is given annually to students, parents, and staff. Academic performance is assessed using the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), a test of reading and math competency.
The NIfETy instrument includes 172 items operationalized within seven domains: physical layout, structures on the block, dwelling type, youth and adult activity, physical order and disorder, social order and disorder, and the presence of VAOD indicators (e.g. presence of alcohol bottles, obvious signs of drug selling, people fighting, etc.)
The NIfETy assessments were conducted in the Summer 2005 by trained two-person team field raters who entered the environmental observations into handheld electronic devices independently. Environmental data were collected on a random selection of residential block faces within each of the 242 residential neighborhoods in Baltimore City, resulting in a total of 447 sampled residential block faces.
A neighborhood violence risk score measuring violence was created using seven variables from the NIfETy instrument: blood in the street, the presence of shell casings, police tape, memorials, people yelling, people swearing, and people fighting. Each variable was binary and contributed equally to the total risk score.
The Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) began conducting the School Climate Survey annually in the 2004–2005 school years. These surveys are administered annually to parents, staff, and students at every public school..
DV: academic achievement. Academic achievement is measured by the Maryland School Assessment (a standardized test administered annually to 3rd-8th grade students in Maryland). The MSA includes two tests, one to assess achievement in mathematics and one to assess achievement in reading.
All spatial analyses were conducted using ArcGIS 9 (ArcMap 9.2). The 447 randomly selected block faces assessed using the NIfETy instrument were mapped with their corresponding risk score.