Open Access School Climate and the Impact of Neighborhood Crime on Test Scores

Does school climate ameliorate or exacerbate the impact of neighborhood violent crime on test scores? Using administrative data from the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Police Department, we find that exposure to violence in the residential neighborhood and an unsafe climate at school lead to substantial test score losses in English language arts (ELA). Middle school students exposed to neighborhood violent crime before the ELA exam who attend schools perceived to be less safe or to have a weak sense of community score 0.06 and 0.03 standard deviations lower, respectively. We find the largest negative effects for boys and Hispanic students in the least safe schools, and no effect of neighborhood crime for students attending schools with better climates.