Lee, Valerie E., Smith, Julia B., & Croninger, Robert G.
How High School Organization Influences the Equitable Distribution of Learning in Mathematics and Science
University of Michigan, University of Rochester, University of Maryland
How social and academic organization of schools affects learning and its distribution?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Sociology of Education
Vol. 70, No 2, pp. 128-150
- The purpose of the research is to identify the organizational characteristics of high schools that make them better places for students to learn.
- The study concludes that structural practices in schools influence academic achievement.
- The schools' organizational characteristics were distinctive in several ways. Schools with no structural practices were significantly disadvantaged compared to schools with only traditional practices on several social demographic factors (more minority students and students of lower ability).
- The optimal organization for schools is smaller, less specialization, less hierarchy, and more cooperation.
- Findings support using narrow and academic curriculum.
- The number and type of structural practices are less important for learning than the types of social relations, curriculum, and instruction.
- School policies and practices can reduce or exacerbate differences in learning among students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. And, they can do so substantially.
- SES has stronger effects on late gains than on early gains in both subjects.
- Gender effects are large and favor males, especially in science, but also in mathematics, particularly later gains.
- The residual effects of minority status are unusual. For early gains in both mathematics and science, minority status is negatively related. Once early gains are controlled for, minority effects on late gains become positive.
- Except for school size, where the effects on both effectiveness and equity favor smaller schools, the contextual effects of school composition are nonsignificant (over and above the effects of individual student characteristics) on either equity or effectiveness.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Gender, Math, Racial Composition, SES, Science
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- The data are from the first 3 waves of NELS 1988 study of 8th graders. Follow up with students in high school in 1990. The sample of NELS 12th graders was filtered--final sample is 9,631 seniors in 789 high schools, most public. Nested sample averaged 12.2 students per school. HLM model is 3 level nested (multiple test scores in students, in schools).
- DV: Two parameters of growth in science and math performance are analyzed: early (8th-10th grade) and late (10th -12th grade). Analysis estimates school effects on achievement growth.
- IV: Student controls: demographic (SES, minority, gender), academic status (achievement & engagement), and course taking patterns; School controls: composition (race, SES, school size, school sector) and structural-practices. 30 school practices are categorized. Other variables- school social organization and school academic organization.