American Journal of Community Psychology

, 24:365

First online:

Family, peer, and neighborhood influences on academic achievement among African-American adolescents: One-year prospective effects

  • Nancy A. GonzalesAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Ana Mari CauceAffiliated withUniversity of Washington
  • , Ruth J. FriedmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Craig A. MasonAffiliated withUniversity of Miami

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Using a 1-year prospective design, this study examined the influence of family status variables (family income, parental education, family structure), parenting variables (maternal support and restrictive control), peer support, and neighborhood risk on the school performance of 120 African American junior high school students. In addition to main effects of these variables, neighborhood risk was examined as a moderator of the effects of parenting and peer support. Family status variables were not predictive of adolescent school performance as indexed by self-reported grade point average. Maternal support at Time 1 was prospectively related to adolescent grades at Time 2. Neighborhood risk was related to lower grades, while peer support predicted better grades in the prospective analyses. Neighborhood risk also moderated the effects of maternal restrictive control and peer support on adolescent grades in prospective analyses. These findings highlight the importance of an ecological approach to the problem of academic underachievement within the African American community.

Key Words

academic achievement African American neighborhood family peer