The three papers of this dissertation examine the contribution of family, school, and neighborhood factors to the racial achievement gap in education. The first paper shows that the fraction of college-educated adults and the median household income in the neighborhood are positively associated with students’ achievement, but neighborhood factors can account, on average, for about 5 percent of student achievement. The second paper analyzes the effect of enrolling students in Algebra 1 in 8th grade instead of 9th grade. The findings suggest that the “Algebra 1 for everyone” policy encouraged since the early 1990s is not equally effective for all students. Students whose test scores were low prior to 8th grade did not improve at the same rate or did not improve at all. The third paper explores factors underlying the achievement gap between white and Hispanic students. The author finds that (1) within-school factors exceed between-school factors; (2) parental education is the most important individual variable: white students have on average better educated parents, which translates to higher test scores; and (3) the achievement gap narrows between grades 3 and 10, with the improvement mainly associated with a reduction in within-school disparities.
Table of Contents
Introduction or Why Racial Gap Matters
Neighborhood Effects on Students' Achievement
Isolating the impact of Algebra 1 in 8th grade on the test scores in North Carolina
Decomposing the Racial Achievement Gap