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Citation:Jimerson, S., Egeland, B., & Teo, A. (1999). A longitudinal study of achievement trajectories: Factors associated with change. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(1), 116-126.

In this study, researchers try to understand what factors lead some children from disadvantaged backgrounds to excel academically as they go through the school system while others fall behind. They investigate several factors possibly related to Òachievement deflectionsÓ in reading and mathematics. ÒAchievement deflectionsÓ refers to the change in a studentÕs achievement over time, as compared to an estimate of expected academic progress throughout the school years. The results indicated that family socioeconomic status (SES) during the elementary years had the greatest association with positive achievement deflections in both reading and mathematics in the first grade, and then throughout elementary school and into high school. The quality of the home environment, as measured by the HOME inventory (Bradley & Caldwell, 1979) during the first grade, was also important in accounting for a positive achievement deflection in reading and mathematics across time. Finally, parent involvement in grades 1-3, measured by teacher perceptions of involvement, was related to positive achievement deflections in mathematics during the elementary years. The 174 low-income children in the sample were part of the University of Minnesota Mother-Child Project, a longitudinal study of children at risk for developmental problems. Student achievement data were collected when the children were in grades 1, 2, 3, 6 and at age 16. At those points, data were collected on the factorsÐspecial education services received, school behavior, parent involvement, quality of home environment and family SES. Hierarchical multiple regressions and simple correlation analyses were conducted to explore the relationship between these factors and deflections in math and reading achievement in grade 6 and at age 16. This study reminds us of the critical function family SES, the quality of home environment, and early parent involvement may have on childrenÕs academic development. The results also suggest parent involvement may function as a protective factor facilitating the academic success of children from disadvantaged backgrounds that are negatively affected by other factors. The researchers caution about the limitations of the relatively small, localized and specific sample used, since all students were from at-risk conditions. However, they highlight the direct implications that the use of this sample has for the development of appropriate interventions with at-risk populations.

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