Implementing Structural Equation Modeling on Public Data

Implementing Structural Equation Modeling on Public Data

Yair Cohen (Farmingdale State University of New York, USA) and Elsa-Sofia Morote (Farmingdale State University of New York, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3616-1.ch008


The researchers used structural equation modeling (SEM) to create a model predicting fourth-grade student achievement in math by exploring the relationships among: student, household, school, and teacher factors. Public data from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) 2012–13 school report card data, NYSED fiscal reporting system, Census 2010 School District Demographics System, and 2011 Civil Right Data Collection were used from 1,263 schools in New York excluding New York City. Variables were chosen using this convenient sample and supported by our conceptual rationale. The model predicted fourth-grade math achievement with 67 percent of effect size. Household factors had strong predictive, while school attendance rate had medium predictive value for student achievement.
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One of the immediate effects of the Coleman report was that it led politicians to state that schools make no difference and therefore there is no need to increase school spending since it has little to no effect in terms of student achievement. Rivkin, Hanushek, and Kain (2005) found that specific school resources do actually have significant effects on student outcomes. Teacher experience, teacher level of education, and smaller class size were found to have small but significant positive impact on student achievement (Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005).

Other researchers (Bachman, Coley, & Chase-Lansdale, 2009; Crosnoe & Wildsmith, 2011; Hampden-Thompson, 2009) found that family structure had a direct relationship with student achievement. They found that children in stably married families experienced improved academic, behavioral, and psychological well-being compared to children in stable cohabiting or single-parent families. However, part of it is rooted in the better socioeconomic circumstances of families headed by stably married parents (Bachman, Coley & Chase-Lansdale, 2009; Crosnoe & Wildsmith, 2011; Hampden-Thompson, 2009). Contradicting to that, Weisner and Garnier (1992) found in a 12-years longitudinal study that children to non-traditional families with strong commitment to their life style do better in school than traditional children.

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