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ERIC Number: ED556791
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul
Pages: 29
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 27
Do Public Schools Disadvantage Students Living in Public Housing? Working Paper #09-08
Schwartz, Amy Ellen; McCabe, Brian J.; Ellen, Ingrid Gould; Chellman, Colin
Institute for Education and Social Policy
In the United States, public housing developments are predominantly located in neighborhoods with low median incomes, high rates of poverty and disproportionately high concentrations of minorities. While research consistently shows that public housing developments are located in economically and socially disadvantaged neighborhoods, we know little about the characteristics of the schools serving students in these neighborhoods. In this paper, we examine the characteristics of elementary and middle schools attended by students living in public housing developments in New York City. Using the proportion of public housing students attending each elementary and middle school as our weight, we calculate the weighted average of school characteristics to describe the "typical" school attended by students living in public housing. We then compare these characteristics to those of the typical school attended by other students throughout the city in an effort to assess whether public schools systematically disadvantage students in public housing in New York City. Our results are decidedly mixed. On one hand, we find no large differences between the resources of the schools attended by students living in public housing and the schools attended by their peers living elsewhere in the city; on the other hand, we find significant differences in student characteristics and outcomes. The typical school attended by public housing students has higher poverty rates and lower average performance on standardized exams than the schools attended by others. These school differences, however, fail to fully explain the performance disparities: we find that students living in public housing score lower, on average, on standardized tests than their schoolmates living elsewhere- even though they attend the same school. These results point to a need for more nuanced analyses of policies and practices in schools, as well as the outside-of-school factors that shape educational success, to identify and address the needs of students in public housing.
Institute for Education and Social Policy. New York University, Joseph and Violet Pless Hall, 82 Washington Square East, New York, NY 10003. Tel: 212-998-5880; Fax: 212-995-4564; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; Grade 5; Intermediate Grades
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: New York University, Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP)
Identifiers - Location: New York
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: California Achievement Tests; California Test of Basic Skills