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Compensating, Mediating, and Moderating Effects of School Climate on Academic Achievement Gaps in Israel


by Ruth Berkowitz , Hagit Glickman , Rami Benbenishty, Elisheva Ben-Artzi , Tal Raz, Nurit Lipshtat & Ron Avi Astor — 2015

Background: It is widely agreed among educational researchers and practitioners that schools with positive climates can effectively mitigate the influence of students’ and schools’ socioeconomic status (SES) on academic achievement. Nevertheless, the exact mechanisms by which this occurs are unclear.

Objective: This study aimed to fill that gap, examining student perceptions of school climate, student academic achievement, and student and school SES in Israel to develop a reliable and comprehensive assessment of the role of school climate in the relationship between student and school SES and achievement. Specifically, the study tested whether school climate has an additive contribution to academics beyond students’ and schools’ SES (compensation model), whether the school’s SES influences its social climate, which in turn influences academic achievement (mediation model); or whether the relationship between SES and academics changes across schools with different climates (moderation model).

Research Design: Secondary analysis of a large-scale, nationally representative sample of fifth- and eighth-grade Hebrew-speaking students in public schools in Israel (N = 53,946).

Data Analysis: Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to examine models with variables both on the student and the school levels. Linear regressions were used to examine student level and school level only models.

Results: School climate had an additive compensation contribution to academic achievements, both on the student and the school levels. School climate moderated the relationship between students’ SES and academic achievements. However, findings did not support the hypothesis that school climate mediated the relationship between SES background and academic achievement, both at the student and school levels.

Conclusions: School climate plays an important role in accounting for achievements, beyond students’ and schools’ SES. Results highlight the need to improve school climate, especially in schools serving communities of low SES, to enhance social mobility and equality of opportunity.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 7, 2015, p. 1-34
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17989, Date Accessed: 3/24/2017 12:01:42 PM

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About the Author
  • Ruth Berkowitz
    University of Southern California, School of Social Work
    E-mail Author
    RUTH BERKOWITZ, PhD, post-doctoral researcher at the USC School of Social Work. Her main research interest is the school setting as an arena to form the lives and well-being of children in normative settings and as influencing social justice and social mobility, school climate, students’ academic and socio-emotional outcomes, military-connected students, students with learning and attention deficit disorders, school evidence-based practices, schools as learning organizations. Publications include:

    Berkowitz, R., DePedro, N.K., Couture, J., & Benbenishty, R. (2014). Military Parents' Perceptions of Public School Support for Their Children. Children & Schools.

    Berkowitz, R. (2013). Student and teacher responses to violence in school: The divergent views of bullies, victims, and bully-victims. School Psychology International.


  • Hagit Glickman
    National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation
    E-mail Author
    Hagit Glickman, PhD, is the General-Director of the National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education (RAMA). In recent years she involves in a large variety of research projects in the area of education; including designing and analyzing large scale assessments and surveys, cross sectional studies and longitudinal studies, evaluation of educational programs, and developing applied statistical and psychometric methodologies. She has a Ph.D. in Statistic from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (since 2000). Publications include:

    Glickman, H., Lipshtat N. (2013) Ability Groups in Lower Secondary Mathematics.

    Glickman, H., Lipshtat N., Raz T., & Ratner D. (2011) Does a National System of "Small-Group" Learning Improve Outcomes? An Analysis of the "New Horizons" Education Reform.


  • Rami Benbenishty
    Bar Ilan University
    E-mail Author
    RAMI BENBENISHTY is a professor of social work at Bar Ilan University. He is studying school climate and child protection, victimization and well-being. Publications include:

    Benbenishty, R., Jedweb, M., Chen, C. Glasser, S., Slutzky, H. Siegal, G., Lavi-Sahar, Z., Lerner-Geva, L. (in press). Predicting the decisions of hospital based child protection teams to report to child protective services, police and community welfare services. Child Abuse & Neglect.

    Benbenishty, R., & Schmid, H. (2013). Public attitudes toward the identification and reporting of alleged maltreatment cases among social groups in Israel. Children and Youth Service Review, 35, 332–339.

    Gilreath, T., D., Astor, R. A., Cederbaum, J. A., Atule, H., & Benbenishty, R. (in press). Prevalence and correlates of victimization and weapon carrying among military and non-military connected youth in southern California. Preventive Medicine.


  • Elisheva Ben-Artzi
    Bar-Ilan University
    E-mail Author
    ELISHEVA BEN-ARTZI is a Senior Lecturer at the Center for Academic Studies and Bar-Ilan University, Israel and former Head of Experimental Program at the Psychology Department, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Main research interest include: dyslexia, temporal-order processes in speech comprehensions, false-memories. Publications include:

    Ben-Artzi, E., Fostick. L., & Babkoff, H. (2011). Auditory temporal processes in the elderly. Audiology Research, 1, 21-23.

    Faust, M., Ben-Artzi, E., & Vardi, N. (2012). Semantic processing in native and second language: Evidence from hemispheric differences in fine and coarse semantic coding. Brain and Language, 123, 228–233.

    Fostick, L., Ben-Artzi, E., & Babkoff, H. (2013). Aging and speech perception: Beyond hearing threshold and cognitive ability. Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, 24, 175–183.


  • Tal Raz
    National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education in Israel
    E-mail Author
    TAL RAZ is the director of projects' evaluation in the national authority for measurement and evaluation in education in Israel (RAMA). Her research interests include the measurement of school climate; evaluation of large scale reforms in education; interrelations between school climate and scholastic achievement. Publications include:

    Weisenberg, M., Raz, T., & Hener, T. (1998). The influence of film- induced mood on pain perception. Pain, 76, 365–375.

    Vakil, E., Raz, T., Lev, D.A. (2010). Probing the brain substrates of cognitive processes responsible for context effects on recognition memory. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 17,(5), 519–544.

    Glickman, H., Lipshtat, N., Raz T., & Ratner, D. (2011). Does a National System of "Small-Group" Learning Improve Outcomes? An Analysis of the "New Horizons" Education Reform.


  • Nurit Lipshtat
    National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education in Israel
    E-mail Author
    NURIT LIPSHTAT is director of longitudinal study design field in the National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education in Israel (RAMA) where she is responsible for data analysis and methodological design. She studies large scale data sets (such as the Mitzav, and PISA) and intervention evaluation. Publications include:

    Greenbaum, L., Rigbi, A., Lipshtat, N., Cilia, R., Tesei S, Asselta, R., Djadett,i R., Goldwurm, S. and Lerer, B. (2013). Association of nicotine dependence susceptibility gene, CHRNA5, with Parkinson's disease age of onset: Gene and smoking status interaction. Parkinsonism Related Disorder, 19(1), 72–6.

    Gorfine, M., Lipshtat, N., Freedman L., & Prentice R. L. (2007). Linear measurement error models with restricted sampling. Biometrics, 63, 137–142.

    Glickman, H., Lipshtat N. (2013) Ability Groups in Lower Secondary Mathematics.


  • Ron Avi Astor
    University of Southern California, School of Social Work
    E-mail Author
    RON AVI ASTOR is the Thor Professor of social urban development at the USC School of Social Work and USC Rossier School of Education. His work examines the role of the physical, social-organizational and cultural contexts in schools related to different kinds of school violence (e.g., sexual harassment, bullying, school fights, emotional abuse, weapon use, teacher/child violence). Currently, Astor is applying knowledge gained from these prior studies to improve school climate and reduce risky behaviors in military-connected schools. His work has been funded by the Department of Defense Educational Activity, National Institutes of Mental Health, H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, Israeli Ministry of Education, a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship, University of Michigan, USC and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Publications include:

    Astor, R.A., De Pedro, K., Gilreath, T., Esqueda, M., & Benbenishty, R. (2013). The promotional role of community, school, family, and peer contexts for military students in wartime. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. DOI 10.1007/s10567-013-0139-x

    Gilreath, T.D., Astor, R.A., Cederbaum, J.A., Atuel, H.R., & Benbenishty, R. (2013). School violence and victimization among military connected youth. Preventive Medicine. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.12.002

    Gilreath, T.D., Astor, R.A., Estrada, J.N., Benbenishty, R., & Unger, J. B. (2014). School victimization and substance use among adolescents in California. Prevention Science. doi: 10.1007/s11121-013-0449-8


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