Within-School Disparities in Students’ Experiences of Safety, Support, and Connectedness
A new study delves into racial and ethnic disparities in academic achievement within California middle schools and their correlation with school climate, a concept encompassing safety, relationships, and participation opportunities. Analyzing data from the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (Cal-SCHLS) across 754 middle schools, the research focuses on Black-White and Hispanic-White racial climate gaps. It identifies differences in students' perceptions of safety, relationships, and participation based on race within the same schools. Notably, Black students reported lower levels of safety and relationships compared to White peers, while Hispanic students experienced lower safety, relationships, and participation opportunities than their White counterparts. The study also links larger racial achievement gaps to corresponding disparities in perceived safety, relationships, and participation. It emphasizes the importance of considering subgroup-specific climates instead of a general school-level assessment. Particularly relevant for California's education system, which integrates school climate measures into its accountability systems, the study highlights the need for targeted action plans addressing diverse subgroup experiences to promote educational equity.