Methods for Examining the Effects of School Poverty on Student Test Score Achievement

  • Douglas Lee LauenEmail author
  • Brian L. Levy
  • E. C. Hedberg
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Measuring school effects has been an important inquiry for sociologists of education for at least 50 years. This chapter summarizes current research on the relationship between school poverty and student achievement, which relies heavily on cross-sectional associations. We then propose that scholars consider longitudinal approaches to estimating school effects in which changes in school outcomes are related to changes in school contexts. We present illustrative examples of both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses using a census of North Carolina students and schools. Cross-sectional models indicate a significant negative association between school poverty and achievement. Our preferred specification—a three-level model of time within students cross-nested within schools—finds no relationship between school poverty and achievement, which raises important questions about the validity of school poverty effects on student test score growth. This model does, however, suggest that variation in test score growth across schools may be greater than variation in test score growth across students, which opens important avenues for understanding the sources of this variation.


Schools Poverty Achievement Education Multilevel modeling Panel data Contextual effects 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Lee Lauen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brian L. Levy
    • 2
  • E. C. Hedberg
    • 3
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.NORC at the University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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