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RSF. 2019 Mar;5(2):141-166. doi: 10.7758/RSF.2019.5.2.08.

School Climate and the Impact of Neighborhood Crime on Test Scores.

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Assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Researcher at Mathematica Policy Research.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan Chair in Public Affairs and professor of economics, public administration, and international affairs in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Professor of sociology at New York University.
Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning in the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.


Does school climate ameliorate or exacerbate the impact of neighborhood violent crime on test scores? Using administrative data from the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Police Department, we find that exposure to violence in the residential neighborhood and an unsafe climate at school lead to substantial test score losses in English language arts (ELA). Middle school students exposed to neighborhood violent crime before the ELA exam who attend schools perceived to be less safe or to have a weak sense of community score 0.06 and 0.03 standard deviations lower, respectively. We find the largest negative effects for boys and Hispanic students in the least safe schools, and no effect of neighborhood crime for students attending schools with better climates.


neighborhood violence; school climate and environment; test scores

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