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05-02-2020 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 6/2021 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 6/2021

The Role of Academic Achievement in the Relationship between School Ethos and Adolescent Distress and Aggression: A Study of Ninth Grade Students in the Segregated School Landscape of Stockholm

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 6/2021
Maria Granvik Saminathen, Stephanie Plenty, Bitte Modin
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Equitable access to high-quality schools is important for student achievement. However, the increasing attention placed on adolescent mental health promotion suggests that school contextual factors and school achievement may also play an important role for students’ psychological well-being. This study examined the relationships between school ethos, academic achievement, psychological distress and aggressive behaviour among Swedish students, further considering the role of school sociodemographic composition. Analyses were based on two separate data collections in Stockholm, one among teachers (n = 2089) and the other among students aged 15–16 (n = 9776; 49.7% girls). Using multilevel structural equation modelling, the relations between teachers’ reports of school ethos and students’ reports of achievement, psychological distress and aggressive behaviour were tested. Analyses showed a positive relationship between a school’s ethos and average academic achievement. At the school level, higher academic achievement was in turn associated with less psychological distress among students, providing an indirect pathway between school ethos and psychological distress. At the individual level, students with higher academic achievement reported less psychological distress and aggressive behaviour. These findings indicate that schools’ value-based policies and practices can play a role for students’ academic performance, and through this, for their psychological well-being.

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