The contribution of school climate, socioeconomic status, ethnocultural affiliation, and school level to language arts scores: A multilevel moderated mediation model

Ruth Berkowitz, Elisheva Ben-Artzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evidence suggests that schools can promote academic success and higher grades by reducing the negative effect of socioeconomic disadvantage through the mediation of a positive climate. However, a critical question largely remains unanswered: Does the mediation of positive school climate on the link between socioeconomic background and academic achievement remain similar for all schools in all cultures and among all ethnic groups? Using a nationally representative database with school climate and language arts test scores of primary and secondary Hebrew and Arabic language schools in Israel (N = 1188), we examined the contribution of both internal (i.e., school climate and grade level) and external (i.e., ethnocultural and socioeconomic backgrounds) influences on schools' language arts test scores. Using multilevel analyses, findings indicated that the magnitude of the mediation of positive school climate, as manifested by a greater sense of security and decreased school violence, in the link between socioeconomic status and test scores was significant only for elementary schools educating Arabic language minority populations and not for nonminority elementary Hebrew language schools. However, this was not the case for secondary schools, where evidence of higher test scores in schools with positive school climate did not emerge. Despite the many socioeconomic obstacles that ethnocultural minority students face, these results indicate that schools prioritizing a positive climate can increase academic opportunities and level the playing field for students from vulnerable cultures and backgrounds. School professionals are encouraged to invest resources that improve school climate to support underprivileged students' prosperity, especially in schools educating students from minoritized backgrounds, where more significant contributions likely exist. Implications for educational policy and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101281
JournalJournal of School Psychology
Volume104
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024

Keywords

  • Ethnocultural minority
  • Language test scores
  • Mediation
  • Moderation
  • School climate

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