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Institutional Context: Schools and Child Development

Melissa Milkie is completing an NICHD-funded project on “Social statuses, schools, and children’s problems”

This project explores the ways in which the school context influences children’s behavior and emotion. Milkie found that although low socioeconomic status children, minority children, and boys receive lower parent and teacher ratings of emotional and behavioral performance on average, these children are not automatically channeled to receive professional evaluation for emotional and / or behavioral problems. In fact, controlling for children’s behavior and emotions as rated by parents and teachers in first grade, as well as for health insurance status, higher status (male, white, and higher income) children are disproportionately channeled to health professionals for problems in the subsequent two-year period. Additionally, children in schools with a higher percentage of white students are more likely to be evaluated for learning / attention problems, controlling for their own statuses and behavior.