Researchers say that a positive school climate is key to reducing disparities in pre-K quality.
A positive school climate – characterized by effective leadership, strong family ties, and trust – can mitigate disparities in levels of emotional support and classroom organization for Black and Latine preschoolers, finds a new study by NYU Steinhardt psychology researchers.
Their findings are published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
“This study strengthens our knowledge of school climate as a possible lever to offset barriers associated with systemic racism in our education system and create the equitable pre-K environments Black and Latine students deserve,” says lead author, Jessica Siegel, a doctoral student at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
With so much investment in scaling public pre-K programs nationwide, it is essential that we provide policymakers and practitioners with ways to reduce racial inequities in the quality of education offered to our youngest learners.
They measured school climate using scores from the district’s school quality assessment, which combines parent and teacher surveys with a standardized quality review.
They found that schools with the highest proportion of Black and Latine students had lower pre-K quality. However, for schools in the highest quartile of school climate, ES and CO were nearly identical between schools serving the highest and lowest proportions of Black and Latine students. No mitigating relationship was found between school climate and IS scores, indicating that regardless of climate, “Black and Latine students are less likely to experience high-quality instructional support.”
“With so much investment in scaling public pre-K programs nationwide, it is essential that we provide policymakers and practitioners with ways to reduce racial inequities in the quality of education offered to our youngest learners,” says Siegel. “Supporting school leaders, teachers, families, and staff in fostering positive school climates is a promising direction to create more equitable pre-K environments.”
This study was co-authored by NYU Steinhardt’s Alejandro J. Ganimian, assistant professor of applied psychology and economics, and Elise Cappella, vice dean for research and professor of applied psychology.