Academic optimism and community engagement in urban schools

Misty Kirby, Michael DiPaola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationships among academic optimism, community engagement, and student achievement in urban elementary schools across one district.

Data were collected from all 35 urban elementary schools across one district in Virginia, USA. Correlation, multiple regression, and factor analyses were used to test the hypotheses.

In schools where the faculty are optimistic that their students can succeed despite the obstacle of low socioeconomic status (SES) and where the community is engaged, students are more likely to achieve at higher levels. Findings of this study also supported that community engagement, collective efficacy, trust in clients, and academic press do act as predictors to collectively influence student achievement.

Research limitations/implications
The Goddard measure for collective efficacy was replaced with one developed for more challenging settings such as urban schools.

Practical implications
Academic optimism and community engagement were found to work in ways that improve student achievement. Understanding the social contexts in classrooms and schools allows education leaders to work with faculty in examining current practice, in an effort to improve the educational outcomes for all students, even those who must overcome the obstacles to learning posed by their low SES.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-562
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2011


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