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IES Grant

Title: High School Gay-Straight Alliances: Practices that Predict Academic Success
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Poteat, Paul Awardee: Boston College
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Context for Teaching and Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (07/01/2019- 06/30/2022) Award Amount: $1,360,196
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A190165

Co-Principal Investigators: Yoshikawa, Hirokazu; Calzo, Jerel

Purpose: This project will examine associations between Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) practices and experiences and social-emotional and academic outcomes for sexual and gender minority (SGM) students. School-based extracurricular settings such as GSAs may promote a sense of school belonging, hope, positive affect, and self-worth in SGM students, which in turn may support positive academic outcomes. GSAs are now in over 37 percent of high schools across the United States, yet there is little data to inform GSA practices.

Project Activities: The researchers will examine GSA practices and member students' social-emotional and academic outcomes over the course of a full academic year, with an additional 6-week diary assessment for a subset of participating schools to delineate the more immediate impact of GSA experiences on some of these outcomes.

Products: The research team will share information about how a range of GSA practices and experiences relate to social-emotional and academic outcomes for SGM members through brief research reports, workshops, in-service trainings, and regional conferences for practitioners. In addition, researchers will disseminate information at professional conferences and publish in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place with GSAs within 60 high schools across rural to urban areas located in California, Massachusetts, and New York.

Sample: About 900 students (approximately 15 students per GSA) will participate in the study as well as 120 adult GSA advisors and 540 teachers of student participants.

Malleable Factors: For this exploration study, malleable factors include GSA practices and students' sense of school belonging, hope, positive affect, and self-worth.

Research Design and Methods: At each of the three sites, half of the GSAs will participate in Year 1 and the other half in Year 2. In both data collection years, current student members will complete surveys on two occasions — Fall and Spring — to assess GSA experiences, victimization, and social-emotional indicators. Adult GSA advisors will complete surveys of GSA practices, their training background, and involvement in the GSA. For the subset of GSAs participating in the 6-week embedded study, student members will complete an intensive diary assessment protocol and the math, science, and English teachers of these students will assess students' classroom engagement. At the end of the school year, the research team will gather school records of final math, science, and English course grades; absenteeism; and discipline experiences in the current and prior school year.

Control Condition: There is no control condition for this study.

Key Measures: The researchers will measure students' social-emotional outcomes through a variety of self-report scales (the Psychological Sense of School Membership scale, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, State Hope Scale, Global Self-Worth Scale, and Peer Victimization and Discrimination scales). They will measure classroom engagement through student and teacher report on the Engagement versus Disaffection with Learning Scale. They will collect school records of students' absenteeism, course grades (math, science, and English), and discipline experiences.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will analyze the survey data using multilevel regression techniques in order to adjust parameter estimates and standard errors for the clustering of students in GSAs.