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Examining the Relationship Between Academic Optimism and Student Achivement: A Multi-Level Approach
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Academic optimism is a relatively new construct that combines collective efficacy, academic emphasis, and faculty trust in students and parents. The cumulative measure represents a robust picture of the social interactions within a school that influences the beliefs, behaviors and emotions of organizational members. Academic optimism has been established as a predictor of student achievement controlling for student socioeconomic status. However, past studies have not included student ethnicity in statistical models utilized to test the effect of academic optimism on student achievement, even though research and state achievement data show gaps among students of color and Anglo students that are just as substantial as those identified along socioeconomic. Additionally, there was a need to determine if academic optimism is simply a product of school context or if there is additional variance left to be explained by psychosocial interactions within schools. Therefore, the intent of this study was threefold: first, examine the relationships between the theoretical underpinnings of collective efficacy, academic emphasis, and faculty trust in students and parents; second, produce a more rigorous test of the effect of academic optimism on student achievement by including student ethnicity in addition to other student background characteristics; and third, determine to what magnitude school context explains a schools level of academic optimism. The author utilized multi-level analysis to test the relationship between school academic optimism and student achievement controlling for student ethnicity, socioeconomic status, previous achievement and school size within a new sample. The relationship between school academic optimism and school context was tested by employing multiple regression analysis. In a sample of 10,464 students nested within 97 elementary schools the author was able to determine that academic optimism is a positive predictor of student math and reading achievement. Furthermore, academic optimism is capable of mediating the negative relationships existing between both low socioeconomic status (SES) and student of color status and student achievement. Additionally, the studied revealed that only 52% of the variance in school level academic optimism is determined by school context.
Hallmark, Bryan S (2013). Examining the Relationship Between Academic Optimism and Student Achivement: A Multi-Level Approach. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from