This study estimates the individual and combined effects of selected family, student and school characteristics on the academic achievement of poor, urban primary-school students in the Turkish context. Participants of the study consisted of 719 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade primary-school students from 23 schools in inner and outer city squatter settlements. The findings indicated that the set of variables comprising student characteristics, including well-being at school, scholastic activities and support, explained the largest amount of variance in academic achievement among the urban poor. Although the effect sizes are small, family background characteristics and school quality indicators were also found to be significantly related to academic achievement. The implications of this study for improving primary schools in urban poor neighborhoods are discussed. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.