White and African American elementary aged student perspectives of school climate and the relationship to academic achievement

Rachel Turney, University of Missouri-St. Louis


The achievement gap between White and African American students on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) is an educational phenomenon that has been around for generations and yet to be fully understood or eliminated. This study investigated the difference in school climate perceptions between African American and Caucasian students on a district climate survey and the possible connections to the achievement gap on the MAP tests. The 2015-2016 student perceived school climate survey data from a mid-sized Midwestern urban school district was disaggregated and analyzed to identify specific differences in perception of school climate among the study groups.

MAP test data was retrieved from school records for all third, fourth and fifth grade students enrolled in the district for 2015-16 academic year. The MAP data indicated that there is an achievement gap between Caucasian elementary students and AA elementary students within this school district that serves 6000 plus students, K-12.

Statistical measures were then used to identify possible correlations between student climate perceptions and MAP test results for Caucasian and African American students. The data was compiled and both descriptive statistics and correlation tests were used to analyze the results and identify the relationships between group climate survey answers and group MAP test results. Results indicated that there was not a statically relevant relationship between student performance on the MAP test and negative and positive responses on a school climate survey. The slight variances observed between racial groups on certain questions lead to recommendations for school climate improvement and pointed to recommendations for further study.