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Educational Equality is a Multifaceted Issue: Why We Must Understand the School’s Sociocultural Context for Student Achievement


"The Coleman Report concluded that if students of color attended schools with more white students, they were likely to garner significantly better achievement results. Several contextual factors should be considered, however, before we make strong conclusions about the strength of the effect of racial and ethnic minority students attending school with white students. This paper makes a case for considering the necessity of both the 'material' and 'sociocultural' domains of schooling if we are to move toward a more holistic understanding of 'school effects' on students' academic well-being. Based on a case-study analysis of four high-performing, diverse schools in different regions, using ethnographic observations and random student surveys, this paper offers evidence that students who hail from similar socioeconomic and family backgrounds but who attend schools with different sociocultural contexts have disparate academic experiences. The findings draw our attention to new directions to consider as we seek to understand how educational outcomes vary depending on the school's organizational culture."