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Troubled children hurt peers' test scores, behavior
Date:8/25/2008

Troubled children hurt their classmates' math and reading scores and worsen their behavior, according to new research by economists at the University of California, Davis, and University of Pittsburgh.

The study, "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids," was published this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research and is available online at http://papers.nber.org/papers/w14246.

Scott Carrell, an assistant professor of economics at UC Davis, and co-author Mark Hoekstra, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh, cross-referenced standardized test results and school disciplinary records with court restraining order petitions filed in domestic violence cases for more than 40,000 students enrolled in public elementary schools in Florida's Alachua County for the years 1995 through 2003.

The researchers linked domestic violence cases to 4.6 percent of the elementary school students in their sample. These children scored nearly 4 percentile points lower on standardized reading and math scores than their peers whose parents were not involved in domestic violence cases. (A percentile score reflects the percentage of scores that fall below it; a student who scores in the 51st percentile on a test, for example, has scored higher than 51 percent of all students who took that test.) In addition, the children from households linked to domestic violence were 44 percent more likely to have been suspended from school and 28 percent more likely to have been disciplined for bad behavior. The impact was seen across genders, races and income levels.

Not only did children from troubled homes suffer, however: Test scores fell and behavior problems increased for their classmates as well.

Troubled boys caused the bulk of the disruption, and the largest effects were on other boys. Indeed, Carrell and H
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Contact: Claudia Morain
cmmorain@ucdavis.edu
530-752-9841
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

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