Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Juan Battle

Subject Categories

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Sociology | Education Policy | Higher Education | Inequality and Stratification | Secondary Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education | Social Statistics | Urban Education

Keywords

stratification, inequality, education, attainment, quantitative methods, school socioeconomic composition

Abstract

Public schools in the United States are becoming increasingly segregated by socioeconomic status. Though the educational consequences of socioeconomic segregation are well researched, segregation is often ignored or exacerbated by education reform. To learn more about the wider implications of socioeconomic segregation, this study utilizes theoretical frameworks derived from Max Weber’s theory of social stratification to analyze over 10,000 students’ experiences from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Education Longitudinal Study (ELS) 2002, 2004, and 2012 waves of data collection. More specifically, this research explores the impact of attending an affluent high school on long-term educational attainment. It finds that attending an affluent school is associated with greater attainment for most students, even when controlling for a student’s demographic background, academic performance, and school and peer environment. However, this study finds that attending an affluent school has no relationship to attainment for students in the top and bottom socioeconomic quintiles. It further finds that several school-level and individual-level factors predicting attainment operate differently for students from the highest and lowest socioeconomic backgrounds. This research concludes that the differential effects of school affluence and other factors related to attainment across social class create the potential to perpetuate social inequality beyond the schoolhouse gates.

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