Family Background Characteristics and Student Achievement: Does School Ethos Play a Compensatory Role?

Abstract

It is a well-known fact that family background characteristics affect school achievement, and according to Swedish law, school should play a compensatory role to outweigh such differences. Previous research has demonstrated that a strong school ethos is associated with higher student achievement, but whether school ethos can play a compensatory role for family background has not been investigated to the same extent. This study examines whether the predictive capacity of students’ family background on school achievement is moderated by school ethos. Data were derived from 9,349 ninth grade students (15–16 years) and 2,176 teachers in 159 school units in Stockholm. Multilevel linear regression analyses showed that family background characteristics, as well as school ethos, were associated with student achievement. School ethos did not, however, moderate the association between family background and school achievement. The results suggest that school ethos does not play a compensatory role, but rather, promotes school achievement for all students alike.

Author Biographies

Joacim Ramberg, Stockholm University, Sweden

Department of Special Education

Sara Brolin Låftman, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Department of Public Health Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS)

Emma Fransson, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Department of Public Health Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS)

Bitte Modin, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Department of Public Health Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS)

Published
2021-08-27
Section
Articles
Keywords
school ethos, school achievement, social justice, compensatory effect, multilevel