Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Public Policy


Tom Smith

Committee Member

Valerie Hunt

Second Committee Member

Brinck Kerr


academic achievement;social capital


The purpose of this study is to demonstrate a more comprehensive understanding of the impact that a child’s broader context has upon his or her academic outcomes, and presumably, life. Using Bronfenbrenner’s theory of human development, this study examines the extent to which social capital and student achievement are correlated and whether an infusion of funding for schools that presumably lack social and economic capital might predict academic achievement in schools from economically depressed regions. Findings indicate that some aspects of social capital and funding initiatives have a demonstrated impact on student achievement but there is not a correlation with student achievement and per pupil funding. Additionally, indexed measures of social capital were found to have limitations, though some determinants of social capital index were more effective in predicting student achievement than others. This study suggests that there may be malleable community factors that could be leveraged to improve academic achievement that warrant additional research.