Pathways to success or failure: Factors affecting academic achievement among black students
Thomas, Letitia L
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Underrepresented minority students---defined as African-American/Black, Latino/Hispanic-American and Native-American---continue to lag behind their White and Asian counterparts in educational attainment (e.g. college degrees earned) and academic achievement (e.g. SAT scores and grade point average) at all socioeconomic levels (College Entrance Examination Board, 1999). Black students in particular experience low levels of educational achievement, even when controlling for social class differences. The research question asked which variables (family, school, peer and/or community) best predicts the academic success or failure for Black students? This project used the National Educational Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS:88) data set to develop a model exploring the academic experiences of high achieving Black students, comparing and contrasting them to the experiences of those students who are struggling academically. A logistic regression model using the five variable blocks produced results for low and high achievers. For low achievers, hours spent on homework out of school, household resources, attending private school, and school safety were all significant. For high achievers, parent's education, total household income, hours spent on homework out of school, parent expectation of college, association with good and bad peers, school climate, school safety, school disruptions and number of Black teachers were all significant. As the Coleman Report found nearly 40 years ago, this research confirms that family variables such as household resources/income, parental education, parental involvement in school and parental expectations for college, influence achievement among Black students in the sample.