Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel U. Levine


The primary purpose of this study was to determine if neighborhood and school type help to predict 4th and 6th grade academic achievement above and beyond traditional socioeconomic status (SES) indices. A second purpose was to determine whether the findings of environmental effects research for smaller-size cities differ from studies which investigate larger urban centers. The study also sought to identify potential ways neighborhoods could be meaningfully classified in ways that might aid future research, and the possible presence of schools that succeed despite a profile that says they should not. Achievement test results of schools (N=61) from two Midwest districts served as the dependent variable, while environmental characteristics gathered from school profile data and the 1990 Census formed the independent variables. Cluster analysis was used to determine neighborhood and school type. Factor analysis and multiple regression analysis were used to determine the predictive power of environmental characteristics. Although school and family SES accounted for an adjusted R2 of .82, neighborhood type nonetheless added a statistically significant 2% (p=.02) of the variance explained, with a small effect size of .02, when predicting total achievement for combined districts. While separate analysis of the study's larger district revealed similar results, neighborhood type did not prove to be significant for the smaller district. Density and housing characteristics were identified as significant variables often overlooked when determining neighborhood type. Three classifications of neighborhoods were identified: Poverty, Transition, and Suburban types. Insufficient data were available to fully assess the effects of school type, but information about SES and neighborhoods made it possible to construct powerful linear predictors of student achievement. A major finding was the discovery of a "suppressor" variable that allowed a dramatic .52 increase in the adjusted R2 when it was employed in a multiple regression. In addition, four schools from District Y, and one school from District X were identified as possible Unusually Effective Schools. Implications for practitioners, and additional areas for future research are discussed.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College in the University of Nebraska at Omaha in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education. Copyright 1996 Franklin T. Thompson.

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