This study had two aims: (1) to test whether or not parental involvement, student-teacher relationships and extracurricular participation are associated with two educational outcomes: degree obtainment and educational expectations; and (2) to test if student-teacher relationships and extracurricular participation moderate the relationship between parental involvement and educational outcomes. Drawing from the Developmental Assets framework, researchers hypothesized that (1) parent involvement will be associated with higher educational expectations and higher likelihood of degree obtainment; and (2) student-teacher relationships and extracurricular participation will moderate that relationship, such that stronger relationships and/or greater participation will be associated with weaker associations between parental involvement and educational outcomes.
Methods: Data was drawn from three waves of the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (N=16,197). At baseline, parents/guardians reported their level of involvement in school organizations, academic advice, and contact with the school. High school sophomores self-reported their level of extracurricular participation and strength of student-teacher relationships at baseline, and then their educational expectations and college degree obtainment two and ten years later. Control variables included race/ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, academic risk, baseline educational expectations and urbanicity. Multilevel linear and logistic regression were used to test for longitudinal associations and moderation, after accounting for covariates and school-level effects. Full information maximum likelihood estimation was used to account for missing data.
Results: Parental involvement was significantly associated with educational expectations two years later (ß =.057, p < .001) and degree obtainment ten years later (OR =1.13, p < .001). Student-teacher relationships (OR =1.29, p < .001), school-based programs (OR =1.05, p < .001), volunteering (OR =1.25, p < .001), and sports lessons (OR =1.03, p < .05) were associated with higher likelihood of degree obtainment. Notably, we found no evidence of moderation of the relationship between parental involvement and educational expectations. However, findings suggest some moderation of the association between parental support and degree obtainment. Specifically, student-teacher relationships moderated the association between parental involvement and degree obtainment (p < .05), such that with stronger student-teacher relationships, the relationship between parental involvement and degree outcomes was weaker. Likewise, volunteering significantly moderated the association between parental involvement and degree obtainment (p < .05), such that higher levels of volunteering were associated with weaker relationships between parental support and educational outcomes. No other extracurriculars were significant moderators.
Conclusions/Implications: Overall, this study suggests that healthy student-teacher relationships and involvement in community volunteering may compensate for lower parental involvement in postsecondary attainment, but not short-term educational expectations. Social workers may be well-situated to support students by facilitating participation or fostering positive student-teacher relationships. Additional practice implications for teacher-student relationships, youth participation and school social work will be discussed.