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Nov 04, 2016 11:55 AM EDT

Positive School Climates Help Students From Various Socioeconomic Status Perform Better, Study Says

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A study published recently in the Review of Educational Research has found that positive climates in schools are effective in pushing students to perform better, regardless of the student's socioeconomic status. This finding is hoped to be instrumental in bridging the achievement gaps between students coming from different economic backgrounds, as well as students with differing academic abilities.

"Our findings suggest that by promoting a positive climate, schools can allow greater equality in educational opportunities, decrease socioeconomic inequalities, and enable more social mobility," study co-author Ron Avi Astor, a professor of social work and education at the University of Southern California, said in a press release.

Astor and other co-authors from the U.S. and Israel looked into 78 studies published between 2000 and 2015. These studies focused on the relationship between positive school climate, academic performances, and socioeconomic status.

Positive school climate, which is marked by factors such as supportive and caring teachers, a sense of safety from bullying and violence, as well as parental involvement, has been found to help students from all walks of life perform better in school.

"Positive school climate has the potential to break the negative influences that stem from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and to mitigate risk factors that threaten academic achievement," study co-author Ruth Berkowitz, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Haifa, Israel, said.

The researchers also found no correlation between socioeconomic status and student perceptions of school climate, suggesting that schools primarily serving students from lower-income families don't necessarily have a bad climate. Rather, such schools can also foster a positive climate, which can help the students achieve better educational opportunities.

The researchers also found that to date, there are no uniform standards to measure positive school climates. A lack of uniform standards could restrict the ability to evaluate school climate, and thus ultimately affect the ability to issue better policies and recommendations.

The study authors made several recommendations, including but not limited to: investigating teachers, non-academic personnel, and parents' perceptions of school climate; and the contribution of positive climate to student performance in subjects other than math, language arts, and science.

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