Self-affirmation shows promise for reducing racial academic-achievement gaps; recently, however, mixed results have raised questions about the circumstances under which the self-affirmation intervention produces lasting benefits at scale. In this follow-up to the first district-wide scale-up of a self-affirmation intervention, we examined whether initial academic benefits in middle school carried over into high school, we tested for differential impacts moderated by school context, and we assessed the causal effects of student engagement with the self-affirming writing prompted by the intervention. Longitudinal results indicate that self-affirmation reduces the growth of the racial achievement gap by 50% across the high school transition (N = 920). Additionally, impacts are greatest within school contexts that cued stronger identity threats for racial minority students, and student engagement is causally associated with benefits. Our results imply the potential for powerful, lasting academic impacts from self-affirmation interventions if implemented broadly; however, these effects will depend on both contextual and individual factors.
- minority groups
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