Contexts of School Segregation and Child Development in Elementary School
Lorraine Blatt

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pittsburgh

Primary Discipline

De facto racial/ethnic and socioeconomic school segregation present pervasive threats to child development in the United States. Disrupting these threats requires a detailed understanding of associations between segregation and child development that unfold in elementary school, an understudied but critical period when children are most likely to experience segregation. My dissertation study uses multi-level growth curve and mixed effects modeling to examine links between school segregation and children?s academic skills and social development in a nationally representative sample of ?16,000 children from kindergarten through fifth grade. This study will examine whether these links differ across children?s racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Data come from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 and Stanford Education Data Archive 4.1. Merging these sources provides a novel opportunity to explore how school segregation at the school, district, metro-area, and county levels relates to individual child-level differences. Investigating segregation at multiple levels will elucidate the varied structural forces shaping children?s educational contexts that are obscured by research examining school segregation at a single contiguous level. Additionally, my study will leverage longitudinal measures to expand our understanding of when during elementary school links between segregation and academic skills emerge. Finally, my study will explore social outcomes rarely considered in segregation research?including children?s prosocial behavior, school belonging, and stress about school. The more we learn about how school segregation shapes children?s development in elementary school, the better equipped we will be to design equitable strategies for integrating U.S. schools in ways that promote child development.
About Lorraine Blatt
Lorraine Blatt is a Ph.D. Candidate in Developmental Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also affiliated with the Learning Research and Development Center. Her research broadly examines how structural influences on social policy and education shape children?s developmental trajectories and ultimately uphold structural inequities. She is particularly interested in how de facto school segregation relates to academic and social development in early and middle childhood. Lorraine has published in the American Educational Research Journal and Perspectives on Psychological Science. Prior to graduate school, Lorraine was a researcher at the Urban Institute where her work focused on child care, education, and anti-poverty policies. In graduate school, she has continued her commitment to research-informed policy through work with the Research-to-Policy Collaboration and teaching an undergraduate ?Child Development and Social Policy? course. Lorraine has an M.S. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, a B.A. in Psychology from Grinnell College, and a K-12 education from Harford, CT Public Schools.

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