DOI: 10.1093/cs/cdad016 ISSN:

Role of School Quality and Neighborhood Disadvantage in Educational Attainment: Do They Vary by Race?

Young Sun Joo, Youngmi Kim
  • Education
  • Health (social science)


Schools and neighborhoods are adolescents’ primary environments, and each has a significant influence on their academic success. The majority of studies on educational attainment have examined the impact of a single context—either the school or the neighborhood—suggesting mixed findings on school and neighborhood effects as well as potential disparities across racial groups. To address this gap, the present study examined the roles of school quality and neighborhood disadvantage on educational attainment for White and Black adolescents. This study used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health data collected from a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents, merging multiple data sources including in-home surveys, school administrator surveys, student-level educational records, and contextual data. Educational attainment was measured using college enrollment and graduation status. School quality was a significant predictor of college enrollment and graduation for both White and Black adolescents. Neighborhood disadvantage is significantly associated with college enrollment for both racial groups; however, college graduation is significant only for White adolescents. These findings suggest that improving school quality is particularly important for educational attainment regardless of racial background. The article concludes with a discussion on the differential roles of school quality and neighborhood disadvantage in relation to White and Black adolescents.

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