In response to persistent racial disparities in academic and behavioral outcomes between Black and White students, equitable school climate has drawn attention as a potential target for school reform. This study examined differences in Black and White students' experiences of school climate and explored whether indicators of school organizational health and staff burnout moderated differences in students' school experiences by race. Utilizing hierarchical linear modeling with a sample of 18,397 Black students (n = 6228) and White students (n = 12,169) and 2391 school staff in 53 schools, we found a consistent pattern of racial inequalities, such that Black students reported less positive experiences than White students across three indicators of school climate (caring γ = -0.08, p < .001; equity γ = -0.05, p = .007; and engagement γ = -0.05, p < .001). In addition, we found significant, positive associations between aggregated staff-report of school organizational health and student-reported school climate (e.g., staff affiliation and student-perceived equity, γ = 0.07, p < .001). Surprisingly, a number of school organizational health indicators were more strongly associated with positive perceptions of school climate among White students than Black students, translating into greater racial disparities in perceived school climate at schools with greater organizational health (e.g., supportive leadership by race on student-perceived engagement, γ = - 0.03, p = .042). We also found negative associations between staff-reported burnout and students' experience of equity, such that the racial gap was smaller in schools with high ratings of burnout (γ = 0.04, p = .002). These findings have implications for educators and education researchers interested in promoting school social contexts that equitably support student engagement and success.
- Racial disparities
- School climate
- School organizational health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology