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Segregation paradox? School racial/ethnic and socioeconomic composition and racial/ethnic differences in engagement.


This study examines the associations between school racial/ethnic and socioeconomic composition and school engagement levels among Mexican-origin Latinos/as, African Americans, and non-Latino/a whites. Prior research suggests that whiter and more affluent schools should promote engagement, but some studies reveal paradoxes of school segregation whereby minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students exhibit worse outcomes in schools with white and socioeconomically advantaged peers. Using data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, this study examines the associations between the percent of non-minority students in the school, average school socioeconomic status, and three engagement outcomes: Liking school, involvement in school-sponsored activities, and coursework engagement. The findings reveal an affective-behavioral trade-off for students in schools with higher proportions of white students. Students who attend whiter schools are less likely to report that they like school, but they are more engaged in coursework. This affective-behavioral paradox is not unique to any particular racial/ethnic group.

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