Place, Poverty, and Algebra: A Statewide Comparative Spatial Analysis of Variable Relationships

Mark C. Hogrebe, William F. Tate


Place matters in moderating variable relationships between algebra performance and educational variables because there are differences on the socioeconomic (SES) poverty-affluence continuum that shape local contexts. This article examines relationships between variables for school district demographic composition, teaching and financial contexts, student behavior variables, and Algebra I performance as measured by a statewide test aggregated at the district level. The purpose is to investigate how these relationships vary across 471 districts within a state using spatial mapping. Local R2’s from geographically weighted regressions (GWR) are mapped using a geographic information system (GIS) to demonstrate variation in relationships across districts. Results show the importance of allowing relationships to “vary” between local contexts and that using a global measure of variable relationships based on aggregated data fails to capture important local variation. This analysis suggests that policy focused on addressing the influence of poverty on algebra performance should be targeted based on region specific models.

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