The American Educational Research Association awarded doctoral student Jacob Kepins a one-year, $25,000 American Educational Research Association Dissertation Grant. Kepins's research is entitled, "School Poverty and the Frog Pond: Examining the Absolute and Relative Effects of School Poverty on College Applications."
The AERA Grants Program supports highly competitive dissertation research using rigorous quantitative methods to examine large-scale, education-related data. The aim of the program is to advance fundamental knowledge of relevance to STEM policy, foster significant science using education data, and build research capacity in education and learning.
Kepins's research interests while a doctoral student have focused on educational organizations, social stratification, school poverty, educational inequality, dropouts, college access, and school-to-work transition. He is advised by Distinguished Professor George Farkas.
For his dissertation work, Kepins will follow a nationally representative sample of high school students from 9th grade to three years after college to examine the association between school poverty and college applications.
Rising income inequality contributes to economic segregation of schools which is predictive of differences in sector and selectivity of college enrollment. College sector and selectivity are, in turn, predictive of choice to major in a STEM field. A number of studies show that students in low-poverty schools have higher tested achievement than similar students in higher-poverty contexts. However, other studies suggest that students in low-poverty schools are likely to have lower grades and class standing than similar peers in higher-poverty schools. While there is some evidence to suggest that students in low-poverty schools are more likely to apply to more selective institutions, this has not been tested with regard to the countervailing effects of students’ absolute and relative achievement simultaneously. This study employs a novel quasi-experimental approach on a nationally-representative sample of U.S. high school students—followed from 9th grade to 3 years after high school—to examine the association between school poverty and college applications. Additionally, this study examines the role that school poverty plays on tested achievement and class standing and how these measures mediate the link between school poverty and college applications.