ERIC Number: ED387868
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Apr
Academic Press and School Sense of Community: Sources of Friction, Prospects for Synthesis.
Shouse, Roger C.
Schools often face a conflict between placing an emphasis on the pursuit of academic excellence (academic press) and creating a positive school community. This paper examines the separate and joint achievement effects of both academic press and communality across a sample of American public and private high schools. The hypothesis holds that when academic press is weak, efforts to strengthen school sense of community may actually constrain student achievement, especially among low-socioeconomic (SES) schools. Indices of academic press and communality were used to analyze data from a subsample of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS): 88 First Follow-Up Survey. The final subsample included an average of 20 students and 11 teachers across each of the 398 schools. The overall pattern of findings supported the major arguments. First, academic press was significantly linked to achievement across all schools. Second, although low-SES schools tended to have the lowest levels of academic press, they also had the strongest achievement effect. Third, communality was negatively associated with achievement in low-SES schools with weak academic press. Fourth, for low- and middle-SES schools, the combination of academic press and communal organization constituted the strongest package of achievement effects. Finally, the strongest effects for high-SES schools were predicted for combinations of high communality and low academic press. The implications are that: (1) schools do their students no service by diluting their academic mission; (2) exposing students to mainstream academic subjects can help to translate higher expectations into a meaningful academic drama; and (3) educational equity is advanced as low-SES schools marshal their human and social capital in more academically focused ways. The major conclusion was that the most effective schools were those where a sense of community emerged as a positive result of a strong sense of academic purpose. One figure and eight tables are included. Appendices contain statistical data. (Contains 38 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 18-22, 1995).