Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

How Changes in Home and Neighborhood Environment Factors Are Related to Change in Black Children's Academic and Social Development from Kindergarten to Third Grade

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

How Changes in Home and Neighborhood Environment Factors Are Related to Change in Black Children's Academic and Social Development from Kindergarten to Third Grade

Article excerpt

There are numerous studies and education policy reports have documented the lower school readiness skills, both in terms of achievement and social competence, of Black children compared to their White peers (Aud, Fox, & KewalRamani, 2010; Haskins & Rouse, 2005; West, Denton, & Germino-Hausken, 2000). Similarly, studies have shown significant differences in early literacy, language, and numeracy by kindergarten (K) entry for Blacks compared to Whites (Joe & Davis, 2009; Matthews, Kizzie, Rowley, & Cortina, 2010; Rashid, 2009; Tsoi-A-Fatt, 2010). Many studies that investigate the complexity of Black children's achievement and social outcomes by deeply examining the interplay of home and neighborhood factors focus on adolescent populations (Bowen & Bowen, 1999; Gonzales et al., 1996; Rankin, & Quane, 2002). However, given the evidence that the early years lay the foundation of later school and future success, it is critical to determine the factors that support Black children's development and learning during these years. Therefore, in the present study the authors investigate Black children's school success during elementary school and attempt to examine their academic achievement and social development using a theoretical framework that would include the complexity of both home and neighborhood environments.


This study is guided primarily by Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Theory (Bronfenbrenner & Evans, 2000); however, the Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (PVEST; Spencer, Dupree, & Hartman, 1997) and the Integrative Model on Minority Children's Development (García Coll, Lamberty, Jenkins, McAdoo, Crnic, Wasik, & García, 1996) are used to supplement Bronfenbrenner's model. The bioecological framework postulates that children develop within a layered context of interconnected systems such as the home, neighborhood, and school environments. Ecological contexts are characterized by both interpersonal interactions (e.g., parental responsiveness) and environmental structure features (e.g., the percent of minority enrollment within a school); in addition, these contexts are characterized by features of growth/change, such as the age/grade of the child and chronicity (e.g., length of time). Both PVEST and García Coll and colleagues' integrative model provide a framework for examining the multiple social factors that shape and constrain such ecological contexts. For instance, Black children's development and learning is not only effected by their home environment but also through America's social stratification system that is based on race, gender, and socioeconomic status (SES) and society's history and cultural traditions that are based on racism, SES, and gender oppression. Taken together, these three frameworks provide the specificity and flexibility to decipher which factors of Black children's environment are likely to be associated with academic success across the early childhood elementary school years.


Since children's success can be affected by multiple ecological contexts (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2007), it is important to examine these multiple contexts. Although the ecological contexts are interconnected, it is also important to examine their unique contributions to children's academic and social growth, especially those outside of school like the home environment and neighborhood. The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which home and neighborhood factors in kindergarten are linked to Black children's academic and social growth from kindergarten to third grade.

This study uses a longitudinal framework to examine the effect of home and neighborhood factors on Black children's growth during the early elementary years using a large-scale, nationally-representative sample. Relatively few studies have used longitudinal designs to understand whether change in multiple ecological systems would be related to change in Black children's academic achievement and social skills. …

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