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ERIC Number: ED450982
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 38
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Poor, Rural Neighborhoods and Early School Achievement.
Bickel, Robert; Smith, Cynthia; Eagle, Teresa Hardman
A study sought to identify the existence of neighborhood effects on school achievement that are independent of social class and family background among students from poor, rural neighborhoods. Ethnographic material yielded a concept of rural West Virginia neighborhoods in which residents expect their encounters to be friendly, informal, almost familial, socially useful, and based on similar world views. Informal social accessibility and common outlook provide invaluable guarantees of social order. Quantitative data were collected from 292 kindergarten students attending 12 elementary schools in two contiguous, rural counties in western West Virginia. With controls for family background and social class in place, independent and positive group-level neighborhood effects were found with each of three achievement test outcome measures. As neighborhoods more closely approximated the conceptual model derived from the ethnographic data, early school achievement was enhanced. As neighborhoods departed from this model, achievement was diminished. Poor, rural West Virginia neighborhoods are not uniformly socially disorganized, culturally pernicious contexts, which gave rise to the dubious concept of "culture of poverty." Instead, they can be sources of safety and stability, where extended families endure and like-minded neighbors are socially accessible and supportive. Such neighborhoods contribute to a social and cultural foundation that has a surprisingly consistent and strong effect on early student achievement. These findings support an alternative view to that of the economies of scale used to justify school consolidation. (Contains 47 references.) (TD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: West Virginia