This paper examines the effect of a student’s own school adjustment as well as the contextual level of school adjustment (the normative level of school adjustment among students in a school) on students’ self-reported use of alcohol. Using a dataset of 43,465 male and female 8th grade students from 349 schools across the contiguous United States who participated in a national study of substance use in rural communities between 1996 and 2000, multilevel latent covariate models were utilized to disentangle the individual-level and contextual effects of three school adjustment variables (i.e., school bonding, behavior at school, and friend’s school bonding) on alcohol use. All three school adjustment factors were significant predictors of alcohol use both within and between schools. Furthermore, this study demonstrated a strong contextual effect: Students who attended schools where the overall level of school adjustment was higher reported lower levels of alcohol use even after taking their own school adjustment into account. The results demonstrate the importance of both a student’s own level of school adjustment and the normative level of school adjustment among students in the school on an adolescent’s use of alcohol. Differences in school adjustment across schools were quite strongly related to an adolescent’s own alcohol use, indicating that school adjustment is an important aspect of school climate. Initiatives aimed at improving school climate may have beneficial effects on students’ alcohol use.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 26, 2009
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