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The Multilevel Effects of School Climate and Gender on Academic Achievement in Urban High School Students

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Title: The Multilevel Effects of School Climate and Gender on Academic Achievement in Urban High School Students
Author(s): Taylor, Rebecca D.
Advisor(s): Weissberg, Roger P.
Contributor(s): Murphy, Mary C.; Riger, Stephanie; Walberg, Herbert J.; Kendziora, Kimberly
Department / Program: Psychology
Graduate Major: Psychology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago
Degree: PhD, Doctor of Philosophy
Genre: Doctoral
Subject(s): school climate learning environments academic achievement stereotype threat
Abstract: This study investigates the relationship between students’ perceptions of their school’s psychosocial climate and their performance on academic achievement tests. These climate perceptions are taken from a survey of 27,203 students in the 10th and 11th grades from 109 high schools within an urban school district. The tests are a national standardized academic achievement exam with subscales in math, science, English, and reading. A multilevel latent covariate modeling approach was used to test the hypothesis that school-level and individual-level perceptions of positive psychosocial climate uniquely predict better academic outcomes. I found support for this hypothesis at the school-level for all climate perceptions and all subject tests, but individual-level climate perceptions showed mixed relationships with test scores. Additionally, based on the predictions of stereotype threat theory, I expected that female students would underperform in the evaluative tests of their math and science abilities. Holding student grade point average and other characteristics constant, female students scored significantly lower than males on Math and Science tests and higher on the English and Reading tests. I also hypothesized that the benefits of a positive school climate might narrow these gender-based achievement gaps, but the gender-by-climate interactions did not support this conclusion. The results indicate the importance of considering climate measurements at the school-level, the persistence of stereotype threat in a natural school environment, and the need for further exploration of the impact psychosocial climates might have on achievement gaps.
Issue Date: 2012-12-07
Genre: thesis
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Rebecca D. Taylor
Date Available in INDIGO: 2014-04-15
Date Deposited: 2011-08

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