This paper reports on a statewide study that examined the extent to which a safe school influences individual student achievement. The study used a two-level hierarchical model that included student characteristics and school conditions used in prior research. The statewide analysis was based on 46 of the 50 schools with grade 8 classes in one western state. The study used scores from the Stanford Achievement Test, along with data obtained from state department of education data bases for the school years 1993 through 1996. The findings suggest that school safety has statistically significant effects on students' grade 8 reading and mathematics achievement. Controlling for student background characteristics and differences in school conditions, students who are in safer schools have higher grade 8 achievement scores than students who are in less-safe schools. The results suggest that schools with lower levels of school violence provide better learning environments for students in middle-level schools. Additionally, there was a statistically significant negative effect on student achievement associated with increased school disciplinary infractions after controlling for student background characteristics and school conditions. Since students who are in safer schools have higher grade 8 achievement scores than students who are in less-safe schools, school safety should receive increased attention from policymakers. (Contains 39 references.) (RJM)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Montreal, Quebec, Canada, April 19-23, 1999).