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ADHD-Related School Compositional Effects: An Exploration

by Susan Stone, Timothy T. Brown & Stephen P. Hinshaw - 2010

Background/ Context: Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) provide a test case through which to investigate psychosocial school compositional effects. Characterized by developmentally atypical levels of inattention, activity, and impulsivity, the condition often manifests itself, and is identified, in school settings and is associated with deficits in academic and social functioning. Research on school practices related to children with ADHD and regional variation in diagnosis and psychostimulant treatment rates supported the expectation that such compositional effects would be observed.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This study examines variation in ADHD compositional effects as a function of key school factors derived from school effects research and the education production function literature, including student body and teacher characteristics, structural features, and specific school process and practices. It also tested for the presence of ADHD compositional effects on three key student-level outcomes: reading achievement, mathematics achievement, and teacher-reported levels of externalizing behavior. It was hypothesized that there would be negative effects on all three outcomes, such that children in schools with higher proportions of children with ADHD would show lower achievement in reading and math, and higher levels of externalizing symptoms (that is, aggressive and disruptive behaviors).

Population/Participants/Subjects: Approximately 14,000 students in more 1,000 schools participating in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) constituted the analytic samples. The ECLS-K collected a rich set of child background, mental health, and behavioral characteristics, as well as school achievement indicators. School administrators reported on school characteristics and practices.

Research Design: Because the ECLS-K follows groups of students nested within schools, it allowed for particularly robust tests for the presence and correlates of within-school aggregations of children with ADHD using student- and school-level fixed-effects models. In addition, several steps were taken to address the potential conflation of the ADHD compositional effect with ECLS-K sampling dynamics and methods.

Findings: Results generated from student-level fixed-effects regression models indicate that ADHD clustering effects predict lower reading achievement scores in schools as compared with schools without this characteristic, but comparable levels of mathematics achievement and externalizing symptoms. These ADHD-related school effects were larger in schools serving minority students, schools with higher retention rates, and schools with a strong emphasis on order. For both children and schools, the patterning of ADHD-related effects differed by region.

Conclusions: Findings are discussed in light of research criticizing the aggregation of children with disruptive behavioral characteristics and/or low academic performance within classrooms and schools, as well as larger school resegregation trends.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 5, 2010, p. 1275-1299
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15667, Date Accessed: 9/24/2021 11:54:15 PM

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About the Author
  • Susan Stone
    University of California at Berkeley
    E-mail Author
    SUSAN STONE is an assistant professor in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley. Her research concerns the individual and aggregate academic performance and progress of psychosocially vulnerable student populations and school social work practice. Recent publications include: Stone, S., & Jung, S. (2008). County variation in child and adolescent health status and school district performance. American Journal of Public Health, 98(4), 1–6; and Stone, S., & Engel, M. (2007). Same old, same old? A qualitative look at students retained under the Chicago ending social promotion policy. American Journal of Education, 113(4), 605–634.
  • Timothy Brown
    University of California at Berkeley
    TIMOTHY BROWN is associate director of research at the Petris Center on Health Care Markets and Consumer Welfare and an assistant adjunct professor in the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley. His research interests lie in the areas of social capital and health, health care labor markets, and behavioral health. Recent publications include: Brown, T. T., Scheffler, R. M., Tom, S., & Schulman, K. (2007). Does the market value racial and ethnic concordance in physician–patient relationships? Health Services Research, 42(2), 706–726; and Scheffler, R. M., Brown, T. T., & Rice, J. (2007). The role of social capital in reducing nonspecific psychological distress: The importance of controlling for omitted variable bias. Social Science and Medicine, 65(4), 842–854.
  • Stephen Hinshaw
    University of California at Berkeley
    STEPHEN HINSHAW is professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests lie in the areas of developmental psychopathology, risk factors for externalizing behavior, psychosocial and pharmacologic interventions, and stigma as related to mental illness. Recent publications: Hinshaw, S. P., Carte, E. C., Fan, C., Jassy, J. S., & Owens, E. B. (2007). Neuropsychological functioning of girls with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder followed prospectively into adolescence: Evidence for continuing deficits? Neuropsychology, 21, 263–273; and Hinshaw, S. P. (2007). The mark of shame: Stigma of mental illness and an agenda for change. New York: Oxford University Press.
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