Failing public high schools are a perpetual limitation to community sustainability. Conversely, economically disadvantaged communities more often produce schools with reduced academic performance. Unfortunately, comprehensive community-based remedies are generally outside the scope of a school district's control. Social disorganization theory attributes variations in crime and delinquency to a breakdown in communal structure and relationships. Applied in a similar manner, social disorganization has also been associated with lower student achievement. This research examined how social disorganization is associated with Florida public high school academic performance in a two phase analysis at the community and school district levels. In addition, the research tested a potential moderating effect of receiving the Five Star School Award, recognizing family and community involvement, and Florida public high school academic performance with social disorganization factors simultaneously considered. In the first phase, the study used a cross-sectional, non-experimental design analyzing secondary data by structural equation modeling (SEM) at the community-level. For the second phase, the study used a cross-sectional, non-experimental design analyzing aggregated secondary data in multiple linear regressions assessing statistically significant associations between social disorganization predictors and school academic performance variables at the school district-level. SEM analysis found a statistically significant and large negative association between the social disorganization factors residential mobility, single-parent households, socio-economic status and percentage of divorced or separated persons, and Florida public high school academic performance at the community-level. Also at the community-level, results showed that receiving the Five Star School award for satisfying family and community involvement criteria had a statistically significant but small positive association with Florida public high school performance when social disorganization factors were simultaneously considered. At the district or county level, multiple regression analyses found relevant negative associations between social disorganization predictors low median income and ethnic heterogeneity and school district average FCAT scores and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) percentages. The study results reinforce existing neighborhood deprivation and social disorganization literature and articulate the need for a community-based approach to improve high school academic performance. Finally, the research suggests prominent education policy reforms may exacerbate social disorganization in communities and proposes alternative policy implementations.
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Wan, Thomas T. H.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Health and Public Affairs
Public Affairs; Governance and Policy Research
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Kanaan, David, "Social Disorganization and Florida Public High School Academic Performance" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5101.