Abstract: Teacher-Student Incongruence in Perceptions of School Equity (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

660 Teacher-Student Incongruence in Perceptions of School Equity

Friday, May 31, 2019
Seacliff D (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Katrina J. Debnam, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Adam Milam, PhD, Medical Student, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Jessika H. Bottiani, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Catherine Bradshaw, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Introduction: Schools’ ability to create a climate where all adolescents regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status can succeed is the hallmark of public education. Adolescents’ perceptions of their school’s equity can have a great impact on a variety of positive outcomes. However, research suggests that students’ perception of school equity differs by race, class, and gender. In contrast to the substantial amount of research on adolescents, less work has investigated how teachers view school equity. If teachers, who are often charged with helping to create an equitable school climate for adolescents, have low perceptions of school equity, how does this impact students?

Method: This study will explore teacher and student perceptions of school equity. It will then determine if incongruence in perceptions negatively impacts’ students’ report of school connectedness. Lastly, we will test whether these associations are moderated by the staff members’ own race/ethnicity. Adolescents (N = 59,218) and teachers (N = 5,223) from 104 middle and high schools participated in an anonymous survey to assess school climate in 2013-2014. Multilevel structural equation modeling was used to assess the relationship between students’ perception of connectedness and students’ as well as teachers’ perceptions of equity.

Results: At the individual-level there was a positive, significant relationship between student connectedness (e.g., at this school, I feel like I belong) and a culture of equity (e.g., at this school, all students are treated the same, regardless of whether their parents are rich or poor) such that increased perceptions of equity were associated with higher perceptions of connectedness after adjusting for age, race, and gender (CFI/TFI = 0.943/0.928, RMSEA = 0.043). Teachers’ perceptions of equity were also positively associated with students’ perception of equity, after adjusting for school-level demographics. We further explored whether congruence between teachers’ and students’ perception of equity affected students’ reports of connectedness in a stratified model. We found that the association between staff perceptions of equity and student connectedness was non-significant; however, when there was congruence between staff and students’ perception of equity, there was a positive significant relationship between staff equity and students’ report of connectedness.

Conclusions: Additional analysis will be conducted to further explore the perceptions of equity after adjusting for teacher demographics. Preliminary findings emphasize the importance of creating a school culture that both students and teachers perceive as equitable in order to promote positive outcomes for youth.