Mattison, Erica & Aber, Mark S
Closing the Achievement Gap: The Association of Racial Climate with Achievement and Behavioral Outcomes
University of Illinois
Does racial climate mediate or moderate the relationships between race and academic and behavioral outcomes?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Journal Community Psychology
Vol. 40, Pp. 1-12
Positive perceptions of the racial climate were associated with higher student achievement and fewer discipline problems.
Race moderated the relationship between racial climate and both achievement and discipline outcomes.
Racial differences in students’ grades and discipline outcomes were associated with differences in perceptions of racial climate.
Results suggest that perceptions of racial climate may provide a partial explanation for the widely documented achievement and discipline gaps across race.
In general, African American students had more negative perceptions of racial climate compared to whites, which, in turn were associated with lower grades and more detentions and suspensions.
Results suggest that a negative school racial climate may matter more for white students and boys than for African Americans and girls.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Achievement Gap, Behavior, Climate, Discipline
Method of Analysis:
Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM)
Unit of Analysis:
Participants in this study were 1,838 high school students (grades 9th–12th) attending two public schools in a moderate-sized, mid-western, university town.
This study analyzed the responses of the African American students (N = 382) and European American students (N = 1,456) due to the focus on racial equity for African American students in the local community.
The sample was approximately 50% male (N = 932) and 50% female (N = 906).
Eighteen percent of the sample was low-income as indicated by their eligibility to receive federal free or reduce priced lunch.
For analyses presented here race was coded (0) for African American participants and (1) for European American participants and gender was coded (0) for male participants and (1) for female participants.
Teachers administered surveys to students in classrooms during regular school hours.
Independent variable- ‘Racial Climate’ was measured by three scales; Racial fairness, Experiences of racism, and the need for change.
The ‘Racial Fairness’ subscale measured students’ perceptions that all students were treated fairly and contained five items (a = .88). Sample items for this scale include: ‘‘At my school, students are disciplined fairly regardless of race’’ and ‘‘Black students are treated fairly at my school.’’
The ‘Experiences of Racism’ subscale measured students’ perceptions of how often they experienced racism in school and contained four items (a = .76). Sample items for this scale include: ‘‘How often has a teacher treated you badly because of your race?’’ and ‘‘How often has another student treated you badly because of your race?’’
The ‘Need for Change’ subscale measured students’ perceptions of the need to change the school system to better address racial inequities and contained three items (a = .84). Sample items for this scale include: ‘‘The school district should reduce the difference in gifted and talented enrollment between Black and White students.’’ and ‘‘The school district should reduce the difference in special education enrollment between Black and White students.’’
For the ‘Racial Fairness’ and ‘Need for Change’ items, respondents rated whether they (5) strongly agreed, (4) agreed, (3) were neutral/not sure, (2) disagreed, or (1) strongly disagreed with each item.
Items on the Experiences of Racism subscale had a different response system, with options ranging between (1) never, (2) a few times, (3) monthly, (4) weekly, and (5) daily.
The dependent variables were GPA, suspension or detention.
Students’ grades (GPA) were measured using students’ self-reports. The scale responses ranged from receiving mostly As (5), Bs (4), Cs (3), Ds (2), and Fs (1).
Students indicated whether or not they had received a suspension within the academic year and used a yes (2) or no (1) response format.
Detentions were measured using students’ indication of the number of detentions received within the year. Scale responses ranged from 1 to 4 (1 = none, 2 = 1– 4, 3 = 5–9, and 4 = 10 or more detentions).