Academic press and sense of community: Conflict, congruence, and implications for student achievement

Roger C. Shouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


This paper examines tensions between two visions of schooling. One stresses social cohesion (i.e., common beliefs, shared activities, and caring relations between members). The other emphasizes strong academic mission (i.e., values and practices that reinforce high standards for student performance). Though not incongruous, numerous organizational studies reveal the potential for social cohesion and communality to be achieved at the expense of academic demand or "press." To examine their separate and joint effects, measures of academic press and communality are developed from NELS:88 First Follow-up data. Results of hierarchical regression analyses indicate (1) significant links between academic press and student achievement; (2) that academic press has its greatest achievement effect among low-SES schools; (3) that strong sense of community may have a negative impact on achievement in low-SES schools with weak academic press; and (4) that for low- and middle-SES schools, the greatest achievement effects follow from strong combinations of communality and academic press. These findings highlight an important additional component of the "school as community" model, indicating that for most schools, academic press serves as a key prerequisite for the positive achievement effects of communality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-68
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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