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#829 – Testing the Assumption of Cross-Level Measurement Invariance in Multilevel Models: Evidence from School and Classroom Environment Surveys
Jonathan Schweig


Measures of classroom and school environments are a central component of policy efforts that assess school and teacher quality. These measures are often formed by aggregating individual survey responses to form group-level measures, and assume an invariant measurement model holds at both the individual and group level. This paper explores the tenability of this assumption by applying multilevel factor analysis to two well-known surveys: the Working Conditions Survey, which assesses school environments, and the Tripod Classroom Environment Survey. The examples illustrate the consequences of using common factor analytic methods that assume cross-level invariance. Importantly, distorted perceptions of factorial structure can obscure the assessment of intervention effectiveness on key classroom outcomes, or the role of classrooms as mediators of educational interventions.