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Citation:Valadez, J. R. (2002). The influence of social capital on mathematics course selection by Latino high school students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 24(3), 319-339. EJ659874.

Using data from the NELS:88, this study explores the link between parental involvement and enrollment in algebra and advanced mathematics courses. The results indicated that overall, parental involvementÑparent-child discussion, monitoring (e.g., studentÕs homework and TV watching), at-school involvement (e.g., attending school meetings, talking with teachers and visiting classes), and participation in Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs)Ñwas associated with greater enrollment in algebra and advanced mathematics courses. However, when ethnic and socioeconomic status (SES) variables were introduced, the results were not as clear. Parent-child discussion was strongly associated with Latino enrollment in algebra and advanced courses, but at-school involvement was negatively associated. PTO participation and monitoring had no statistical influence on Latino enrollment. For White students, parent-child discussion was associated with greater enrollment in advanced courses, although not algebra. At-school involvement, PTO participation, and monitoring all had a positive influence on enrollment in both algebra and advanced courses for White students. Further analyses found that all parent involvement variables were more strongly associated with enrolling in algebra and advanced math courses for upper SES Latinos than for lower SES Latinos. The NELS:88, a nationally representative database of eighth graders, began in 1988 with follow-ups occurring every 2 years thereafter. The sample used in this study was limited to Latino (2,107) and White students (9,787). The analyses used descriptive statistics as well as logistical regression models, and controlled for other factors that have been documented as influential in educational decisionmaking. Based on the findings, the researcher concludes that parental involvement seems to be advantageous for making informed curricular decisions, but the conditions tend to favor White and upper SES students. He suggests schools consider interventions and partnerships to help lower income Latino parents recognize and take advantage of their own resources, such as familial social networks and cultural values that encourage hard work. Given that the findings come from a correlational analysis of pre-existing data, results do not imply causation, only an association between parent involvement and enrollment in algebra and advanced mathematical courses.

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