By New York Times
City children who live in public housing perform worse in school than students who live in other types of housing, according to a study by New York University researchers.
The study, which is being released today, found that students living in public housing are more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to graduate in four years than those who do not live in public housing.
It also showed that fifth graders living in public housing did worse on standardized math and reading tests than fifth graders who lived elsewhere. Researchers found this disparity in fifth-grade test scores even when comparing students at the same school who shared similar demographics, like race, gender and poverty status.
The report is the first large-scale study of the academic performance of children growing up in the city’s 343 public housing complexes, researchers said.
They suggest that those children face social and economic hurdles at home that affect their success in the classroom and illustrate the often-overlooked role that housing can play in education.
The report was done by the university’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and its Institute for Education and Social Policy.
About 112,000 children ages 5 to 18 live in buildings managed by the city’s public housing agency, the New York City Housing Authority. The agency, the city’s biggest landlord, maintains 178,000 apartments, providing low-rent housing subsidized by the federal government to low- and moderate-income families.
The study is based on city public schools data from the 2002-3 academic year, including student demographics and test scores as well as teacher and school characteristics. It does not provide a definitive reason why the two types of students perform so differently.
“‘We don’t know’ is the short answer,” said Vicki Been, director of the Furman Center and an N.Y.U. law professor. “We don’t have the data that would enable us to pin it down.”