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The Association between Student Perceptions of Safety and Academic Achievement: The Mediating Effects of Absenteeism
Unformatted Document Text:  The Association between Student Perceptions of Safety and Academic Achievement: The Mediating Effects of Absenteeism by Karen S. Boyd University of Notre Dame This paper argues that one potential negative impact on student academic achievement may be students’ perceptions of how safe they are, or more importantly, how safe they feel, while at school. This relationship was hypothesized to be mediated by the rate of student absenteeism. Using a cross-section of 10 th graders from 1990, ordinary least squared regression was used to test these relationships. While the results for absenteeism were statistically significant, the mediating impact of absenteeism on the relationship between student perceptions of safety and academic achievement was weak, and therefore not a sufficient explanatory mechanism for the robust relationship between the two primary variables of interest, student absences and academic achievement gain. Introduction Educators, researchers and policy makers all have a stake in understanding the forces that affect student achievement. Achievement is an indicator of how effective schools are and it also predicts how much education students may ultimately attain. Educational attainment, in turn, influences employment opportunities and adult status roles. Although it cannot be said definitively that schools are microcosms of the society (Cassel 2001), it has been argued that schooling represents one of the primary groups where youth are socialized to societal norms and culture. As such, schooling plays such an integral role in society, that if structural inequality exists in academic achievement or attainment, it merely reflects a more serious problem in society as a whole. During the last ten years, some research has focused on whether school safety affects student achievement, focusing on security measures in schools (Mawson et.al. 2002; Klonsky 2002; Peterson and Skiba 2001) and the effects of violence on youth (Benbenishty et. al 2002; Bowen and Bowen 1999; Burns and Crawford 1999; Chiricos et. al. 1997; May and Dunaway 2000; Thompkins 2000). Little attention has been given, however, to students’ perceptions of safety in school and the effects of those perceptions on academic achievement. Most research dealing with school safety has tended to focus on actual exposure to incidents of violence or victimization both in school and out and how this affects student behavioral and academic outcomes (Errante 1997; Flannery and Singer 1999; Noakes and Noakes 2000).

Authors: Boyd, Karen.
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The Association between Student Perceptions of Safety and Academic Achievement:
The Mediating Effects of Absenteeism
by Karen S. Boyd
University of Notre Dame
This paper argues that one potential negative impact on student academic
achievement may be students’ perceptions of how safe they are, or more importantly, how
safe they feel, while at school. This relationship was hypothesized to be mediated by the rate
of student absenteeism. Using a cross-section of 10
th
graders from 1990, ordinary least
squared regression was used to test these relationships. While the results for absenteeism
were statistically significant, the mediating impact of absenteeism on the relationship between
student perceptions of safety and academic achievement was weak, and therefore not a
sufficient explanatory mechanism for the robust relationship between the two primary
variables of interest, student absences and academic achievement gain.

Introduction
Educators, researchers and policy makers all have a stake in understanding the forces
that affect student achievement. Achievement is an indicator of how effective schools are and
it also predicts how much education students may ultimately attain. Educational attainment,
in turn, influences employment opportunities and adult status roles. Although it cannot be
said definitively that schools are microcosms of the society (Cassel 2001), it has been argued
that schooling represents one of the primary groups where youth are socialized to societal
norms and culture. As such, schooling plays such an integral role in society, that if structural
inequality exists in academic achievement or attainment, it merely reflects a more serious
problem in society as a whole.
During the last ten years, some research has focused on whether school safety affects
student achievement, focusing on security measures in schools (Mawson et.al. 2002; Klonsky
2002; Peterson and Skiba 2001) and the effects of violence on youth (Benbenishty et. al 2002;
Bowen and Bowen 1999; Burns and Crawford 1999; Chiricos et. al. 1997; May and Dunaway
2000; Thompkins 2000). Little attention has been given, however, to students’ perceptions of
safety in school and the effects of those perceptions on academic achievement. Most research
dealing with school safety has tended to focus on actual exposure to incidents of violence or
victimization both in school and out and how this affects student behavioral and academic
outcomes (Errante 1997; Flannery and Singer 1999; Noakes and Noakes 2000).


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