Maternal and Child Health Research Program

Advancing Applied MCH Research

School Competence of African American High School Youth

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Project Number: R40 MC 05488-04
Grantee: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department/Center: Child Development/Behavioral Science
Project Date: 09/01/2005

Final Report

School Competence of African American High School Youth Final Report (PDF) Exit Disclaimer

Principal Investigator

Margaret Burchinal, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, Sheryl Mar, CB #8185, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-8185
Phone: (919) 966-5059
Email: burchina@mail.fpg.unc.edu

Age

  • Adolescence (12-18 years)

Race/Ethnicity

  • African American

Abstract

This study examines how selected youth, peer, family, and school factors serve as risk and protective factors for African American youth's school competence during the transition to high school. Understanding the sociocultural factors that affect the school competence of African Americans during the high school years is critical for addressing the academic achievement gaps and differential opportunities as adults between African Americans and their non-minority peers in American society. The study objectives are to: a) identify mediators of the anticipated negative effects of exposure to multiple risks for the academic achievement and adjustment of African American youth during the transition to high school; b) determine the multiple youth (e.g., greater engagement in school, stronger racial identity), peer (e.g., higher quality friendships and less loneliness), family, (e.g., greater parental monitoring of activities and responsive and supportive parenting), and school (e.g., supportive teacher-student relationships and fewer low-income youth) characteristics that serve as protective factors for the school competence of African American youth during the transition to high school; and c) examine whether developmental trajectories across academic achievement, adjustment, and peer relationships during the transition to high school are linked for African American youth. Study participants are 140 13 to 16 year old African American youth from low- and middle-income families, 70 of whom have been studied since infancy and their 70 friends who have been studied since 6th grade. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau has provided the funding since the youth began the study. Study youth's school engagement, racial beliefs and practices, peer relationships, adjustment, and academic achievement, and selected family, parenting, and school characteristics will be assessed in the summers after 9th and 10th grades. Standardized assessments will be used to measure the youth's academic achievement in reading, writing, and math. Questionnaires completed by the study youth and their teachers and families will examine the study youth's social and school adjustment, engagement in school, peer relationships, and racial beliefs/behavior. Characteristics of the school will be collected. Growth curve analyses will determine whether hypothesized youth, peer, family, and school factors serve as mediating or promotive/protective factors in the school competence of African American youth during the transition to and during the high school years. Study findings should have important implications for understanding the sociocultural factors that affect the school success of African American youth in their transition to high school and guide interventions to promote their school competence. Understanding the sociocultural factors that affect the school competence of African Americans in high school is critical, given the demographic and ecological gaps between African American and White children in American society. Study findings should have important implications for the school success of African American youth in their transition to high school and guide interventions to promote school competence.

Publications

Listed is descending order by year published.

Wolfram W. The African American English canon in sociolinguistics. In: Adams M, Curzan A, eds. Contours of English and English Language Studies. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press; 2011:34-52.

Hooper SR, Roberts JE, Sideris J, Burchinal M, Zeisel S. Longitudinal predictors of reading and math trajectories through middle school for African American versus Caucasian students across two samples. Dev Psychol. 2010 Sep;46(5):1018-29.

Terry JM, Hendrick R, Evangelou E, Smith RL. Variable dialect switching among African American children: inferences about working memory. Lingua. 2010 Oct;120(10):2463-75.

Terry JM, Jackson SC, Evangelou E, Smith RL. Expressive and receptive language effects of African American English on a sentence imitation task. Topics Lang Disord. 2010 April/June;30(2):119-34.

Van Hofwegen J, Wolfram W. Coming of age in African American English: a longitudinal study. J Socioling. 2010 Sep 1. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9841.2010.00452.x

Rowley SJ, Burchinal M, Roberts JE, Zeisel SA. Racial identity, social context, and race-related social cognition in African Americans during middle childhood. Dev Psychol. 2008 Nov;44(6):1537-46.

Wheeler AC, Skinner DG, Bailey DB. Perceived quality of life in mothers of children with fragile X syndrome. Am J Ment Retard. 2008 May;113(3):159-77.

Burchinal M, Roberts JE, Zeisel SA, Hennon EA, Hooper S. Social risk and protective child, parenting, and child care factors in early elementary school years. Parent Sci Pract. 2006 Jan-Mar;6(1):79-113.

Gravel JS, Roberts JE, Roush J, Grose J, Besing J, Burchinal M, et al. Early otitis media with effusion, hearing loss, and auditory processes at school age. Ear Hear. 2006 Aug;27(4):353-68.

Hooper SR, Ashley TA, Roberts JE, Zeisel SA, Poe M. The relationship of otitis media in early childhood to attention dimensions during the elementary school years. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2006 Aug;27(4):281-9.

Jung TT, Hunter LL, Alper CM, Paradise JL, Roberts JE, Park SK, et al. Recent advances in otitis media. 9. Complications and sequelae. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol Suppl. 2005 Jan;194:140-60.

Gravel J, Roberts J, Grose J, Roush J, Besing J, Zeisel S, et al. Otitis media with effusion, early hearing loss, and later auditory processes. In: Lim DJ, Bluestone CD, Casselbrant M, et al., eds. Recent advances in otitis media: Proceedings of the eighth International symposium June 3-7, 2003, Marriott Harbor Beach Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Philadelphia, PA: Decker Publishers; 2004:303-305.

Roberts JE, Gravel J, Wallace I, Jackson SC, Burchinal M, Neebe E, et al. Otitis media and children's language and academic achievement during early elementary school years in two prospective samples. In: Lim DJ, Bluestone CD, Casselbrant M, et al., eds. Recent Advances in Otitis Media: Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium June 3-7, 2003, Marriott Harbor Beach Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Philadelphia, PA: Decker Publishers; 2004:306-308.

Keywords

School Outcomes & Services, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Parenting, Social & Emotional Development, Cultural Competence, Cognitive & Linguistic Development

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