Effects of parental involvement on Mexican-American eighth grade students' academic achievement: a structural equations analysis

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Virginia Tech


Mexican-American children are educationally disadvantaged, are at-risk for academic failure, and have not demonstrated the academic achievement that other immigrant groups have, even after they have lived in the U.S. for many generations. Today, parental involvement is being touted by government officials and the popular press as one mechanism through which academic achievement can be increased. If parental involvement is indeed effective, it may be one mechanism for improving the achievement of Mexican-American students.

For this research, causal modeling (path analysis) was used to investigate the influence of parental involvement on overall academic achievement, and the reading, math, science, and social studies achievement on 1,714 eighth grade Mexican-American children. This research utilized the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS 88), the third major national longitudinal survey developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Parental involvement, defined as discussing school activities and having high educational aspirations for children, positively affected all academic achievement areas. SES (socioeconomic status) and previous learning also had strong influences on achievement. Interestingly, as parents' language proficiency increased, parental involvement decreased, when controlling for the gender of the student, SES, parents' birth place, and previous learning. Gender differences were evident in all academic areas, and females received more attention than males from their parents. Family rules did not influence academic achievement and may in fact have a negative influence on social studies achievement.

Since a good education is necessary for all who live in modern society, educators and policy makers should continue to encourage Mexican-American parents to discuss school activities and have high educational aspirations for their children. Parental involvement is one potentially alterable variable which can positively influence the academic achievement of Mexican-American children.