Trust and Secondary School Performance in the Dominican Republic
Relational trust has proven to be an important predictor of school achievement in the United States and can lead to innovation, problem-solving, and collective action in school communities (Bryk and Schneider, 2002). This study investigates relational trust in the secondary education system of the Dominican Republic, where trust may prove beneficial in promoting achievement and efficiency rates in schools, as well as ensuring successful reform in periods of change. The study examines which school-level characteristics are associated with relational trust, and then asks whether relational trust is associated with school performance. A random sample of Dominican secondary schools was drawn, and directors and teachers provided measurements of relational trust, school, director, and teacher characteristics. Results were mixed: only teacher-director trust and teacher-parent trust were positively linked with Pruebas Nacionales (PN—national exit exam) scores while no types of trust were associated with PN qualifying rates (the percentage of seniors matriculated at the beginning of the year who qualified for the exam). Policy recommendations resulting from an analysis of these data include isolating overage students from properly age synchronized students, investing in classroom resources, and promoting administrative continuity and designated staff space to encourage social relationships between directors, teachers, students, parents, and community.