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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.


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