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School characteristics that make a difference for the achievement of all students: A 40-year odyssey

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to trace a 40-year research journey to identify organizational properties that foster the achievement of all students, regardless of socio-economic status (SES). Design/methodology/approach ‐ The author describes a search for school properties that have an impact on the cognitive and social-emotional development of faculty and students, with special emphasis on academic achievement. Findings ‐ Three characteristics of schools were identified that make a positive difference for student achievement controlling for the SES: collective efficacy, collective trust in parents and students, and academic emphasis of the school. Further these three measures are elements of a latent construct, academic emphasis of school, which is a powerful predictor of student achievement regardless of SES. Originality/value ‐ The paper identifies school variables that are often as important, or more important, than SES in explaining academic achievement, and a new model is created to explain how academic optimism influences student achievement.
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Keywords: Academic achievement; Academic emphasis; Academic optimism; Educational development; Efficacy; Organizational culture; Schools; Self development; Students; Trust

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 27, 2012

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