Centering Racial Equity in Measures of School Climate: Perspectives of Racial and Ethnic Minoritized Students
Objective: This qualitative study sought to better understand whether and how items on a school climate survey capture racial/ethnic minoritized (REM) students’ definitions and experiences of racial (in)equity. Method: We conducted three focus groups with a convenience sample of 13 REM students from Seattle Public Schools. Participants were mostly female (56%) and in high school (56%). Inductive analytic techniques informed by grounded theory were used to facilitate analysis and interpretation. Results: Participants defined and experienced racial equity as a construct based on how they are treated by others and the application of rules and expectations. School climate survey items mostly aligned with participants’ definitions and experiences of racial equity; items captured participants’ racialized interpersonal interactions and the school structures and processes that influence racially (in)equitable experiences and outcomes. Conclusions: Integrating REM students’ perspectives in measurement design and questions about race, culture, ability, and identity are critical to ensuring that school climate measures capture their experiences and perceptions of racial (in)equity. Future research should investigate REM students’ perspectives of school climate measures that embed racial equity and the outcomes from such measures.