Housing as a Platform for Improving Education Outcomes among Low-Income Children

Researchers and policymakers hypothesize that housing can be a platform for academic achievement among low-income students—that is, high-quality, affordable housing, located in safe neighborhoods can go beyond providing basic shelter and stability, and can help provide a stable environment where children access high-performing schools, learn, and succeed academically. Most of the empirical evidence to date, however, focuses on the absence of high-quality, affordable housing and its consequences for children. There is a dearth of research on how housing can be a positive pathway to achieving better school outcomes. Further, methodological limitations plague research on both the negative and positive effects of housing and school outcomes, making it difficult to draw conclusive
findings. To help inform policymakers and move policy forward, this paper discusses the current state of housing in the United States, provides a conceptual framework for housing as a platform to improve educational outcomes for children, reviews the existing evidence that supports conceptual models, and identifies the major gaps in research. Finally, it proposes a list of projects that make up a research agenda for understanding the issue and guiding investments in new research.

Neighborhoods and Schools as Competing and Reinforcing Contexts for Educational Attainment

Scholars hypothesize that both neighborhood and school contexts influence educational attainment, but few have considered both contexts simultaneously. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the author analyzes how school and neighborhood contexts are jointly related to high school and college graduation. She finds that the absolute level of neighborhood resources positively predicts earning a bachelor’s degree, while relative neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) compared to school peers’ neighborhood SES predicts high school graduation. Interactions between school and neighborhood characteristics reveal that low odds of educational attainment among students from lower-SES neighborhoods are reduced even more when a student attends school with more white and high-SES peers. Conversely, the high odds of educational
attainment among students from higher-SES neighborhoods are further enhanced by
attending school with more white and high-SES peers. Findings suggest that
neighborhood SES may be a basis for relative deprivation within schools. Policy makers need to determine how students from different neighborhoods are integrated into a school’s structure and culture in order for policies that mix students from different neighborhood backgrounds to succeed. Attending a high-SES, largely white school does not eliminate (and may even exacerbate) the disadvantages of coming from a low-SES neighborhood.

Before or After the Bell? School Context and Neighborhood Effects on Student Achievement

This paper explores the relative effects of school and neighborhood characteristics on student achievement in Texas. School variables are more robust and explain a greater degree of the variance in test scores than neighborhood characteristics. Neighborhood level variables, as a group, are statistically significant even in the presence of school variables. The particular pattern of effects varies by the manner in which the school context was controlled, by poverty status, move status, and location in the conditional achievement distribution. But neighborhood always mattered. Even if neighborhood conditions are less robust than school context effects, concern about neighborhood
conditions is still justified.