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Citation:Halle, T.G., Kurtz-Costes, B., & Mahoney, J.L. (1997). Family influences on school achievement in low-income, African American children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(3), 527-537.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between parental beliefs of their childrenÕs academic achievement and their childrenÕs academic achievement. Authors examined parentsÕ interaction aimed at fostering math and literacy skill development and the presence of books in homes to determine whether childrenÕs self-perceptions were related to their achievement and whether childrenÕs perceptions were related to their parentsÕ perceptions. The study found that parentsÕ education-related beliefs were related to achievement-fostering behaviors in the home and that parent perceptions of their childrenÕs ability were related to childrenÕs academic self-concept and actual achievement scores. In spite of low scores, both children and parents had positive views of the childrenÕs abilities and high expectations for future educational success. Most parents believed their children would complete college. ChildrenÕs math and reading achievement scores were not related to parentsÕ reported instruction in the home. Forty-one economically disadvantaged African American children and their primary caregivers were interviewed. Structured interviews were conducted with parents to assess their beliefs and behaviors regarding academic achievement, expectations for their childrenÕs educational attainment, perceptions of their childrenÕs achievement relative to peers, the frequency with which they spoke to their children about pre-academic subjects, and to estimate the number of childrenÕs books in the home. Children completed measures of academic self-concept and two standardized achievement tests. The study illustrates that providing access to childrenÕs books within disadvantaged communities may do more to promote childrenÕs academic achievement than other achievement-related behaviors. The study also shows that parent behaviors, beliefs, and lifestyles may help to foster academic success in some disadvantaged children. One limitation of this study is the relatively small sample since it relies on data from one school thus, the findings may not be applicable to all school contexts. In addition, because data are based on self-report, there is some question about their validity.

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