A Research Synthesis of the Associations Between Socioeconomic Background, Inequality, School Climate, and Academic Achievement
 
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Review of Educational Research
November 1, 2016

Ruth Berkowitz, University of Haifa
Hadass Moore, University of Southern California
Ron Avi Astor, University of Southern California
Rami Benbenishty, Bar Ilan University

Abstract

Educational researchers and practitioners assert that supportive school and classroom climates can positively influence the academic outcomes of students, thus potentially reducing academic achievement gaps between students and schools of different socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. Nonetheless, scientific evidence establishing directional links and mechanisms between SES, school climate, and academic performance is inconclusive. This comprehensive review of studies dating back to the year 2000 examined whether a positive climate can successfully disrupt the associations between low SES and poor academic achievement. Positive climate was found to mitigate the negative contribution of weak SES background on academic achievement; however, most studies do not provide a basis for deducing a directional influence and causal relations. Additional research is encouraged to establish the nature of impact positive climate has on academic achievement and a multifaceted body of knowledge regarding the multilevel climate dimensions related to academic achievement.

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