This paper reports findings of a study examining child-, classroom-, and school-level factors that effect academic achievement among public school children in the South. Using ECLS-K data, we compare and contrast the learning environments in high/low minority and high/low poverty schools. A sizeable minority of Southern children attend schools that are race and/or class segregated; on multiple dimensions these schools are less desirable than are schools attended by more privileged children, and children attending these schools have lower levels of academic achievement. Results from 3-level random intercepts models show that a range of child and family factors, as well as classrooms with less experienced teachers and with more low-level readers, and rural school location all contribute to lower reading gains during first grade. We find no “race effects” on achievement, net of other variables. Issues of “selection” are discussed, and implications for social work are explored.

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date


Discussion Paper Number

DP 2005-02