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Title:The academic achievement of African American students during early adolescence: An examination of multiple risk, promotive, and protective factors
Author:Gutman, L. M., Sameroff, A. J., & Eccles, J. S.
Resource Type:Journal Article
American Journal of Community Psychology, 30(3)

pp. 367Ð399
Education Level:Middle
Literature type:Research and Evaluation

The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of multiple risks on achievement-related outcomes of African American youth during early adolescence. This study focuses on risk factors, as well as protective factors and promotive factors. Examples of protective and promotive factors are family factors (such as consistent discipline and parental school involvement) and social support factors (such as teacher or peer support). Protective factors are thought to effect only high-risk children while promotive factors should be beneficial to all children, regardless of their risk status. The authors report three main findings of the study. First, the more risk factors adolescents experienced, the worse their outcomes, so that adolescents had lower grade point averages, more absences, and lower achievement scores as their risk factors increased. Second, different promotive and protective factors were significant contributors depending on the outcome that was being assessed. Consistent discipline and parental school involvement had positive effects on grade point average and absences. Teacher support was negatively related to math achievement. This could be due to the measurement method in this study where students who elicited more teacher support were more likely to experience personal and academic difficulty. Third, protective factors were identified. Peer support and parental democratic decision making had a protective effect in that they were associated with higher achievement only for students facing multiple risks. Authors also identified factors that were promotive only, such as parental school involvement, which had positive influences on all children. There were 837 seventh grade African American student participants in this study. Measures included grade point average, number of absences, and math achievement. A multiple risk score was calculated for each family and positive factors were also assessed. The study was part of the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context study. The reliance on correlational data clearly limits the extent to which conclusions about causality can be made based on the findings. In addition, the sample was not completely random and the analysis was not intended to be exhaustive, there are many other factors that could have played a role.

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