Academic journal article High School Journal

A Preliminary Investigation of Academic Disidentification, Racial Identity, and Academic Achievement among African American Adolescents

Academic journal article High School Journal

A Preliminary Investigation of Academic Disidentification, Racial Identity, and Academic Achievement among African American Adolescents

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine academic disidentification along with demographic and psychological factors related to the academic achievement of African American adolescents. Participants included 96 African American students (41 males, 55 females) in an urban high school setting located in the Southwest. Consistent with previous research, academic disidentification was determined by looking for an attenuation of the correlation between academic self-concept and grade point average (GPA) of male and female students. The relationship between academic self-concept and grade point average significantly decreased for African American males, while it significantly increased for African American females. Demographic factors included age and sex, while psychological factors included academic self-concept, devaluing academic success, and racial identity. Results of a hierarchical regression indicated that sex and academic self-concept were significant positive predictors of GPA, while age and racial identity were significant negative predictors, accounting for 50% variance. Academic self-concept was the strongest predictor of GPA. Implications of the results are discussed.

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A Preliminary Examination of Academic Disidentification, Racial Identity, and Academic Achievement among African American Adolescents

The underachievement of African American adolescents remains one of the most discussed and studied phenomena in education. Arguably, no other ethnic or racial group has received as much negative press about its educational struggles as African American students (Cokley, 2006). Much attention has been given to the achievement gap in secondary education with a particular focus on retention rates among African American students. Recent data indicates the average high school graduation rate for African American students is approximately 60% compared to 80% of their European American counterparts (Aud, Fox, & KewelRamani, 2010). Even for those students who remain in high school, achievement disparities are apparent. Reflecting on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data, Haycock, Jerald, and Huang (2001) noted that for those African American and Latino students who reach 12th grade, on average these 17-year-old students have the reading, mathematics, and science skills of a 13-year-old European American student. As such, it is not surprising that African American students do not attend college at the same rate as European American students. While the percentage of African Americans graduating high school and attending four-year colleges has increased within the past twenty years, 2008 statistics indicate that only 32% of African American 18 to 24-year-olds were enrolled in colleges or universities compared to 44% of their European American counterparts (Aud et al., 2010).

Reasons cited to explain African American adolescent academic underachievement are numerous and include psychological factors and processes such as differences in motivation and achievement values (Graham, 1994; Graham, Taylor, & Hudley, 1998) and academic disidentification (Cokley, 2002, Osborne, 1997), dissonance between home and school (Tyler et al., 2010), poverty and substandard schools in low income areas (Kozol, 1991; McLaren, 2007; McLoyd, Aikens, & Burton, 2006; Spring, 2008), and cultural factors (e.g., oppositional identity) related to race and identity (Fordham, 1988; Fordham & Ogbu, 1986). The latter reason has especially generated controversy around the question of whether there is something about racial identity that deters ethnic minority adolescents from high achievement. Additionally, a recent report by the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban public schools, characterized Black male achievement in particular as a "National Catastrophe" (Lewis, Simon, Uzzell, Horwitz, & Casserly, 2010). The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of academic disidentification and factors such as academic self-concept and racial identity on the academic outcomes of a sample of African American adolescents in an urban high school setting. …

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