Explaining Race Differences in Student Behavior and Academic Achievement: The Relative Contribution of Student, Peer, and School Characteristics

Clara G. Muschkin, Duke University
Audrey N. Beck, Duke University

This study examines differences in academic achievement and the propensity to commit disciplinary infractions among black and white students attending public school in North Carolina in 2000-2001. We draw from literature on racial disparities in education to formulate hypotheses regarding the pathways contributing to race difference in both outcomes, and the linkages between student behavior and academic performance. We examine variations in the effects of student, school, and peer characteristics, and the extent to which race differences are due to distributions and to effects of these characteristics. Using administrative data, we estimate OLS and logistic regression models of achievement and behavior outcomes among black and white students in fourth, seventh, and ninth grades. Decomposition methods are then applied to model estimates in order to quantify the proportion of the race gap that is linked to group composition, and the proportion that reflects unequal risk of misbehavior or poor academic performance.

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Presented in Poster Session 6