Benson, James, & Borman, Geoffrey
Family and Contextual Socioeconomic Effects Across Seasons: When Do they Matter for the Achievement Growth of Young Children?
University of Wisconsin - Madison
School & neighborhood contexts influence on differences in children's achievement growth during the kindergarten and first-grade years across seasons.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Teacher College Record
Vol. 112, No. 5, pp. 1338-1390
- School and neighborhood social contexts exacerbated family-based learning inequalities in ways that resulted in a double disadvantage for many students from low-SES families and a double advantage for many students from high-SES families.
- Descriptive results portray a great deal of social stratification among households, schools, and neighborhoods.
- During the summer season, African American students learned at a faster pace than White students when controlling for family SES, and Hispanic students did not learn at a significantly different pace from White students.
- Neighborhood context exerted considerable influence on reading achievement at schools entry but did not explain away the social gap attributed to family SES.
- Given the propensity of families to live in neighborhoods reflecting their own socioeconomic status, contextual advantages and disadvantages tended to exacerbate the social gap in reading achievement observed at the family level.
- High-SES neighborhoods provided a contextual advantage, which boosted reading achievement for students fortunate enough to live in them.
- Once school began, more than half the total amount of stratification in reading achievement took place during school seasons.
- School social contexts exerted a strong influence on reading achievement during kindergarten and first grade.
- Minority school composition created a substantial segregation disadvantage for students in high-minority schools during first grade.
- Results suggest that the first-grade reading disadvantage for Black students was a consequence of location in schools with large concentrations of minority students, rather than rearing in African American families.
- Neighborhoods contexts were most influential prior to school entry and during the summer, and school contexts were most influential during school seasons.
- Although neighborhood social context exerted clear and consistent effects prior to school entry and during the summer season, neighborhoods minority composition did not appear to affect math achievement.
- African American and Hispanic students learned math at the same rate as White students during first grade, when holding constant the social backgrounds of students' families.
- Social context and social composition did not consistently influence math achievement during the school year.
- In first grade, students in high-SES schools learned math at a slower pace than middle- and low-SES students, and private schools accounted for the majority of this effect.
- Social context was most important for math achievement at school entry and during the summer, whereas minority social composition appeared largely irrelevant to math achievement.
- After controlling for school and neighborhood social contexts, racial composition was almost entirely irrelevant to achievement growth during the period of study, except during first grade for reading. For students in schools with minority compositions one standard deviation above the mean, reading growth rates were 0.66 months slower over the course of the first grade school year. Unlike, the contextual effects noted, this compositional effect explained away at least half of the Black-White gap in first-grade reading, thus making the coefficient for African American no significant.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Context, Math, Neighborhood, Racial Composition, Reading, SES
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) - Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K).
- Census 2000 : to get neighborhood social characteristics data.
- Sample includes 4,178 students, each of whom was attending one of 292 schools and living in one of 699 neighborhoods during the period of the study.
- Sample includes an average of 14 students per school.
- Removed students who changed schools or neighborhoods during the study period.
- Takes into consideration the substantial differences in achievement.
- This study considered family background and social contest effects in two stages: first, analyzed seasonal variations in the effects of family SES and race/ethnicity on achievement; second, assessed the contribution of neighborhood and school social contexts to achievement growth and achievement inequalities.
- Uses within-student measures of achievement, as well as student- and contextual-level measures of background and context.
- Within-student measures: time in kindergarten before Test 1, Reading and math assessments
- Student-level covariates: student age, repeat status, child's family SES, race/ethnicity, family structure, family size, repeat status, and age at kindergarten entry.
- Contextual -level variables: Median income for each school and neighborhood, mean years of education for each student's parent, minority composition of schools and neighborhoods.
- Also included program participation measures designed to capture increased academic training, measure of academic summer school, and a measure of full-day kindergarten classes.
- DV: Mean achievement levels at each of the four points for this study
- IV: School & neighborhood contexts (see above)