Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)

Friday, January 18, 2008: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Blue Prefunction (Omni Shoreham)
[Pov/C] Social Environment Influences on the Academic Success of Middle and High School Students: the School Success Profile
Symposium Organizer:Susan Stone, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Discussant (Optional):Gary L. Bowen, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
An Analysis of Moderators of the Negative Relationship between Grade Retention and School Performance
Susan Stone, PhD
Direct, Mediated, and Moderated Effects of Teacher Support and Academic Press on School Outcomes
Michael E. Woolley, PhD
Teacher Support, Student “at Risk” Status and Academic Performance
Kate L. Phillippo, MSW
Understanding the Role of Social Supports in Educational Aspirations
Stephanie C. Berzin, PhD
Willingness to Seek-Help: the Role of Social Inclusion and Capital
G. Lawrence Farmer, PhD
Abstract Text:
Theme: Students' relationships and experiences across key social settings-- neighborhood, school, family, and peer group-- influence specific student-adaptation outcomes associated with school success (Richman, Bowen, & Woolley, 2004). Five papers are proposed that use data collected from the School Success Profile (SSP) to examine relationships between various features of the social environment and the academic success of middle and high school students.

The first paper examines the relationship between social support from adults and friends and the educational aspirations of middle and high school youth. The second paper examines the contribution of teacher support on middle and high school students' academic performance. The third paper extends this analysis by modeling the direct and interactive effects of both teacher support and teacher press on students' behavioral, attitudinal, and academic outcomes while examining student gender and race/ethnicity differences using SEM analysis. The fourth paper explores the role of social inclusion and social capital on students' willingness to seek help in times of trouble. The final paper analyzes the extent to which student learning attitudes and perceptions of family and school supports moderate the persistent, negative influence of the experience of grade retention on academic performance.

The symposium organizer will introduce the five papers and provide an overview of the SSP dataset that was used in all five analyses. The discussant, Gary Bowen, will provide an integrative summary of the results at the conclusion of the presentations, discuss implications for policy and practice, and offer recommendations for further analysis and research. This summary will illustrate how coordinated analysis of a rich, secondary data source functions as a strategy for knowledge base development and, as such, exemplifies “research that matters.”

Dataset: The SSP is a 220 item self-report questionnaire administered to students in the sixth through twelfth grades that assesses four social environment domains (neighborhood, school, family, and peers), academic performance, and health and well-being (Bowen, Rose, & Bowen 2005). From the population of students who completed the survey (N = 37,354) between 2001 and 2005, a working sample of 20,749 middle and high school students across 67 school sites are used for secondary analysis. The working sample excludes students from sites with fewer than 50 students, those that attend special intervention programs (e.g., juvenile detention, teen court), and those where the SSP was administered on a previous occasion during the 2001 – 2005 timeframe. The dataset was further restricted to include only respondents who answered at least 95 percent of the 220 items on the SSP and those for whom with valid codes for gender, race/ethnicity, and grade level were available. An interest in using a consistent dataset across various analyses overrode considerations of retaining respondents with high levels of missingness. The dataset includes a high percentage of “at-risk” youth.

Implications: Using these assessment data in a series of coordinated secondary data analyses is an opportunity to conduct knowledge building research. Such research has potentially important implications for prevention and intervention planning and programming to improve school outcomes.

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