The Role of Material Hardship in Grade Retention
Erik Schmidt, Cornell University
Material hardship has been in the media spotlight recently with rises in unemployment and increasing participation in social programs in efforts to forestall the hardships that can accompany the loss of income. Food hardship has received particular attention recently with political efforts to cut funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program despite participation having nearly doubled since the 2008 beginning of the recession. Given the rising prevalence of circumstances that may increase the likelihood of hardship among Americans, it is important to understand the manner in which and degree to which material hardship affects outcomes. This analysis considers the manner in which material hardship affects the rate at which students progress through school through its effects on grade retention. To this end a nationally representative dataset with a range of material hardship measures is analyzed. The analysis indicates that food insufficiency is a consistent and sizeable predictor of in-grade retention.