Is inequality inevitable? The impact of student & school SES on achievement for different ethnic groups

Mustafa Asil, Jeff Smith

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The influential role of school-level and student-level socioeconomic status (SES) on learning outcomes is well established in the literature. We know that individual SES and socioeconomic composition of the school are strongly correlated with academic performance. However, literature remains still unclear about how this relationship varies for different ethnic groups when both student and school SES considered simultaneously.
In this study, we examine the relationship between student SES, school SES, ethnicity and students’ literacy skills in reading. The study uses a nationally representative data from 2014 National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) with a total sample size of approximately 5000 students from 200 schools. NMSSA is designed to assess and understand student achievement across the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).
New Zealand, as indicated by latest large-scale international assessment results, is one the countries with the widest spread of achievement between students within a school. The variability in scores across schools is relatively low. Moreover, compared to the general population of students, Māori and Pasifika students, and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are overrepresented in groups with lower achievement outcomes. These features make New Zealand an interesting case study to explore for both a New Zealand and an international audience.
This study applies Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM) methods to examine the extent to which aforementioned SES measures may be differentially associated with achievement for different ethnic groups when compared to the general population of students. We discuss the implications of findings and question how equitable New Zealand schools are for different ethnic groups.
Keywords: HLM, NMSSA, Socio-economic Status


ConferenceCenter for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment’s (CREA)
Third International Conference: The Next Generation of Theory and Practice: Rethinking Equity through Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment
Country/TerritoryUnited States
OtherThis conference took yet another step to advance our thinking as well as action about the theory and practice of evaluation and assessment; viewed through a lens of Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment.

CREA continues to engage aggressively its mission to generate evidence for policy-making; evidence that is not only methodologically but also culturally and contextually defensible. Our interdisciplinary community of U.S. and international scholars are not only committed to studying this fundamental mission, but also how we might take action.

The CREA conference is unique in its definitive recognition of culture’s centrality to evaluation and assessment and continues to illuminate the landscape of culturally responsive evaluation and assessment -- a space that remains largely uncharted.
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