Neighborhood Effects on Sense of School Coherence and Educational Behavior
in Students At Risk of School Failure
Purpose: Research indicates that neighborhood characteristics influence
adolescents' behavior in the neighborhood, but also influence adolescents'
behavior in other microsystems, including school. Interventions aimed
at promoting school success in students at risk of school failure often
target student-, school-, and family-level factors. Such interventions
are likely to be more effective if they also target neighborhood characteristics
that have been theoretically and empirically linked to school outcomes.
This study uses a conceptual framework based on ecological-developmental,
social disorganization, and social cognitive theories to highlight the
importance of neighhorhood characteristics and students' sense of school
coherence, and to identify proposed links from these factors to students'
educational behavior. The study investigates relationships among:
(a)neighborhood informal social control, crime, and negative peer culture;
(b) students' sense of school coherence; and (c) students' educational
Graduate School of Social Work
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751
Portland OR 97207-0751
Methods: The study uses data from a sample of 4772 middle and
high school students identified as being at risk of school failure to examine
hypothesized relationships. Path analysis with manifest variables
is used to test hypothesized effects of neighborhood factors on students'
educational behavior. These effects are hypothesized to be fully
mediated by students' sense of school coherence.
Results: Path analysis results partially support a mediated model.
The positive effect of neighborhood informal social control and the negative
effect of neighborhood negative peer culture are fully mediated.
The effect of neighborhood crime is partially mediated, but this factor
has a substantial and negative direct effect on students' educational behavior.
Implications for practice: Discussion focuses on developing comprehensive
strategies to promote development in adolescents while building the capacity
of communities to support the developmental needs of youth. Key challenges
and potential barriers to this approach are identified.