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School Climate and the Impact of Neighborhood Crime on Test Scores

Research tells us that violent crime in a student's neighborhood can contribute to weaker academic performance. A research team led by Agustina Laurito took a look at whether school climate can influence that result.

A recent report, School Climate and the Impact of Neighborhood Crime on Test Scores, used data from New York City's education and police department to show that middle school students exposed to violent crime--and attending a school perceived to be less safe or having a weak sense of community--score lower on standardized tests in English language arts. Boys and Latinx student are mostly likely to lose ground.

When students attend schools with better climates--perceived as safer, more orderly and having a stronger sense of community--neighborhood crime has no effect on test scores, the researchers found. "In sum, although schools are unable to control the experiences students have beyond their walls, the climate within each school can play a role in helping students cope with external forces," the report concludes.

Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.