Neighborhood Poverty and Violence, School Readiness, and Third Grade Academic Achievement


Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Neighborhood disadvantage and crime have been found to be predictive of poorer academic outcomes. Children in disadvantaged neighborhoods and those with high crime levels have been found to perform worse academically than those from more affluent or safer communities. This thesis investigated the role of neighborhood crime and economic disadvantage in children’s early (pre-kindergarten) and later (3rd grade) academic achievement. Moreover, I explored the role of school readiness as a mediator between neighborhoods and academic achievement. This thesis used a subsample of 3,350 children from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP), which followed children attending subsidized childcare services at age four between 2002 and 2007 in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The MSRP provided data on child and family demographics, school readiness, and 3rd-grade outcomes. Factor analyses were used to create a residential neighborhood disadvantage measure using data from the 2000 Census and a single indicator of crime using data from the National Neighborhood Crime Study for each of the 308 identified census tracts. Two-level models that nested children in their census tracts and added neighborhood characteristics to the second level alongside child characteristics that were present at both levels were used to address research questions. Results indicated that neighborhood disadvantage significantly predicted cognitive abilities at age four, third-grade math achievement, and GPA. Unexpectedly, neighborhood crime was a positive predictor of reading test scores and GPA. Cognitive skills at age four mediated the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and math achievement. The implications and limitations of these results are discussed.