Academic journal article Family Relations

Students' Perceived Parental School Behavior Expectations and Their Academic Performance: A Longitudinal Analysis

Academic journal article Family Relations

Students' Perceived Parental School Behavior Expectations and Their Academic Performance: A Longitudinal Analysis

Article excerpt

Self-report data from 2,088 sixth-grade students in II middle schools in North Carolina were combined with administrative data on their eighth-grade end-of-the-year achievement scores in math and reading to examine the influence of students' perceived parental school behavior expectations on their academic performance. Through use of multilevel modeling and control for the influence of students' demographics, trouble avoidance, and perceived support from adults and peers, we found that students' perceptions of their parents' expectations of their school behavior had a small but positive and statistically significant influence on their math and reading scores approximately 3 years later. Implications for the implementation of evidence-based interventions in schools are discussed.

Key Words: academic achievement, evidence-based interventions, middle school, parent expectations, school success, social support.

The stakes are high for those working to improve educational outcomes and prevent dropout. Success in school is a predictor of positive socioeconomic, health, and mental health outcomes (Liem, Lustig, & Dillon, 2010). Conversely, dropping out of school is associated with poverty, chronic illness, substance abuse, incarceration, and compromised mental health (Richman, Bowen, & Woolley, 2004). Although dropout rates have declined during the past three decades, they continue to be disproportionately high for racial and ethnic minority students (Dalton, Glennie, & lngels, 2009). Only approximately three of five Black students and Hispanic students graduate within 4 years, compared with four of five White students (Stillwell, 2010). Research suggests that higher dropout rates among ethnic minority students are explained, to a great extent, by the relationship between minority status and poverty (Richman et al., 2004; Wehlage & Rutter, 1986), which results in a concentration of ethnie minority students in poor urban schools (Orfield, Marin, & Horn, 2005). Students from low-income families drop out at 10 times the rate of students from higher income families (Cataldi, Laird, & KewalRamani, 2009).

Middle school experiences influence the likelihood that a student will drop out. During middle school years, poor academic performance, grade retention, and high levels of aggressiveness increase the likelihood of dropping out of school (Alexander, Entwisle, & Kabbini, 2001; Barrington & Hendricks, 1989; Cairns, Cairns, & Neckerman, 1989). During sixth grade, poor attendance, receiving a report from a teacher about behavior problems, and failing either math or English are strong predictors of dropping out of high school (Balfanz & Herzog, 2005).

Parental support and expectations are among the most important influences on students' behavior and academic performance, especially for students in the middle school years (W. Chen & Gregory, 2009; Woolley & Grogan-Kaylor, 2006). Students' perceptions about their parents' expectations have the potential to protect them from problem behavior and poor grades (Anthony & Stone, 2010; G. L. Bowen, Rose, Powers, & Glennie, 2008; Powers, Bowen, & Rose, 2005). When students perceive that their parents expect them to perform well in school, they are more likely to avoid problem behavior and excel academically (G. L. Bowen et al., 2008).

To better understand the relationship between parents' expectations and students' outcomes, researchers need to observe the impact of these expectations on outcomes over time as well as to examine the influence of parental expectations in the context of other risk and protective factors. Unfortunately, most research to date is cross-sectional and relies on students' perceptions for assessing both independent and dependent variables.

The present study uses longitudinal data from 11 public schools in North Carolina to examine a parent support variable that has shown promise in recent cross-sectional analysis as associated with the self-reports by middle school students of their school engagement, academic performance, and educational aspirations: students' perceived parental school behavior expectations (Anthony & Stone, 2010; Berzin, 2010; G. …

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