Middle School Concentration: Some Schools Had a Large Share of Students From Lower-Income & Education, High-Crime Neighborhoods

Middle School Concentration: Some Schools Had a Large Share of Students From Lower-Income & Education, High-Crime Neighborhoods

Most studies that have looked at the effect of where a student lives on their academic success have focused on poverty. In this report IBO goes a step further, bringing three factors from a student’s neighborhood into play: median household income, educational attainment of adults in the community, and the rate of violent crime.

In bringing these three neighborhood characteristics together we create a profile of the socioeconomic status of the student body at individual schools. We have done this concentrating on the city’s public middle schools because these school years play such a large role in shaping a student’s academic progress. Our study includes 158,450 students at 279 public middle schools (traditional and charter) in grades 5-8 in school year 2013-2014. For each of these students we capture the neighborhood characteristics based on the census tract in which they lived. We use these individual student profiles to compare the socioeconomic status of middle school students citywide with the socioeconomic make-up of each middle school. And we define low socioeconomic status as meaning students lived in neighborhoods with at least one of these characteristics: census tracts with comparatively low median household incomes, or low educational attainment among adults, or high rates of violent felonies. Among our findings:

• Students in the city’s public middle schools tended to come from neighborhoods with lower
median household incomes, lower rates of educational attainment, and higher rates of violent
felonies than neighborhoods in the city as a whole.
• More than half of the city’s students who came from neighborhoods with low socioeconomic
status were concentrated in just 25 percent of the city’s public middle schools.
• Nearly one-third of middle schools had enrollments in which 85 percent to 99 percent of students
resided in low-socioeconomic status neighborhoods.
If students were randomly distributed across neighborhoods and across middle schools, the share of
students from neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status would be similar from school to school.
Clearly, this was not the case. The report’s appendix includes a list of the 25 middle schools with the
highest and lowest concentrations of students from neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status.

To see the rest of the study, click here.

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