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School Violence Lowers Test Scores, Not Grades

November 6, 2013
School crime and academic achievement

Researcher Julia Burdick-Will studied crime reports from Chicago police and records from the Chicago school department: “It seems obvious that having fights in schools is not a good thing for achievement, but it’s a really difficult thing to show.”Crime affects learning, not necessarily grades.

Violent crime rates in schools have a negative effect on test scores but not on grades, according to a study by Julia Burdick-Will, a postdoctoral research associate in the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. Published this month in Sociology of Education, the study analyzed police and school records in Chicago from 2002 to 2010.

“It seems obvious that having fights in schools is not a good thing for achievement, but it’s a really difficult thing to show,” said Burdick-Will, a post-doctoral research associate in the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University, whose study is titled “School Violent Crime and Academic Achievement in Chicago.”

Employing detailed crime data from the Chicago Police Department, administrative records from Chicago Public Schools, and school climate surveys conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research from 2002 to 2010, Burdick-Will compared fluctuations in year-to-year violent crime rates with changes in both student standardized test scores and annual grade point averages.

She found that violent crime in schools adversely affects reading and math scores on standardized tests, but has no influence on GPAs.

Read more of Courtney Coelho story about violent crime in school.