Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Teaching-Learning Processes

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. Carl Hoagland


Dr. April Regester

Dr. Michael Bahr

Dr. Cody Ding


Students with disabilities face challenges to academic success that can be exacerbated by the effects of poverty. In this study, Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was used to analyze the effects of socio-economic status, social capital, and threats to safety on literacy test scores for students with disabilities. Results of the analysis indicate that discipline rate had a significant effect on mean district scores on statewide standardized tests, but not on the impact of socio-economic status on test scores. Conversely, the percent of college graduates in a school district did not have a significant effect on district scores, but moderated the relationship between socio-economic status and test scores. The gap between lower and higher socio-economic groupings of students grew higher as the percent of college graduates in a district increased. Results of this analysis have implications for educational policy for students with disabilities who live in poverty.