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Title page for ETD etd-07192013-062348

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Bower, Corey Bunje
Author's Email Address corey@edpolicythoughts.com
URN etd-07192013-062348
Title Non-School Social Policy and the Achievement Gap between Classes
Degree PhD
Department Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Claire E. Smrekar Committee Chair
Carolyn Hughes Committee Member
Joseph Murphy Committee Member
Robert L. Crowson Committee Member
  • health care
  • housing policy
  • neighborhood effects
  • out-of-school time
  • education policy
  • human development
  • human ecology
Date of Defense 2013-06-20
Availability unrestricted
The gaps in achievement and attainment between races and classes have long vexed our educational system, with the former remaining stubbornly stable and the latter growing in recent decades. Researchers consistently conclude that these gaps mostly form before school and during the summer as the result of a vast array of out-of-school influences, but policy has primarily aimed to change what happens inside schools. I argue that aiming instead to mitigate the effects of factors/conditions experienced outside of school may offer a better solution. I review and evaluate the evidence linking 21 different factors/conditions disproportionately experienced by those living in urban poverty with academic performance. Overall, strong evidence supports the theory that policy could alter 12 of the factors/conditions in ways that would subsequently improve the academic performance of students living in urban poverty and narrow the achievement gap. In all, 19 are supported by at least moderately strong evidence. I select two of those --homeownership and stress –- for comprehensive synthesis and in-depth review. The literature bases of both offer compelling cases that increasing homeownership and reducing stressors can narrow the achievement gap, but empirical evidence is mixed for the former and scattered for the latter. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.
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