Peer and Neighborhood Influences on Youth and Adolescent Development

This grant supported Dr. Jacob Vigdor’s research examining institutional factors that influence adolescent decision making processes. These factors include policies determining the grade configuration of schools and the assignment of students to classrooms, neighborhood-level influences, and incentive systems that aim to induce adolescents to avoid behaviors with long-run negative consequences.

One study published as the result of this research showed that sixth-grade students behave significantly worse and score lower on standardized tests when they are assigned to middle schools rather than to elementary schools. The negative effects persist beyond the sixth grade. The results of this study have influenced administrative grade configuration decisions in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Illinois and elsewhere.