Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1332–1349 | Cite as

Parental Involvement and Adolescent Academic Outcomes: Exploring Differences in Beneficial Strategies across Racial/Ethnic Groups

  • Elizabeth DayEmail author
  • Aryn M. Dotterer
Empirical Research


Gaps in educational outcomes between racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups persist in the United States, and parental involvement is often cited as an important avenue for improving outcomes among racially/ethnically diverse adolescents. This study utilized data from the Education Longitudinal Study 2002–2013 (56% female, N = 4429), which followed 10th-graders through high school and ten years post-high school, to examine the links between parental involvement strategies and academic outcomes (grade point average and educational attainment). Participants included white, African American, and Hispanic/Latino adolescents from low-SES families. This study used recursive partitioning, a novel analytic strategy used for exploring higher-order interactions and non-linear associations among factors (e.g., parental educational involvement strategies) to predict an outcome (e.g., grade point average or educational attainment) through step-wise partitioning. The results showed that the combination of greater academic socialization and school-based involvement was beneficial for all adolescents’ grade point average, whereas the combination of home-based involvement with academic socialization and school-based involvement yielded mixed results. Greater academic socialization and home-based involvement appeared beneficial for educational attainment among African American and Hispanic/Latino adolescents, but not white adolescents. More home-based involvement and less academic socialization were associated with less educational attainment for white adolescents. Overall, the findings showed different combinations of parental educational involvement strategies were beneficial for adolescents across racial/ethnic groups, which may have implications for practice and policy.


Parent involvement in education Educational attainment High school students Race/ethnicity Recursive partitioning 



The authors would like to thank Sharon Christ, Marilyn Hirth, and Shawn Whiteman for their feedback on this project.

Authors’ Contributions

Both authors made substantial contributions to this study. E.D. conceived of the study, performed the statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript. A.D. participated in the design and interpretation of the data, as well as revising the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Data Sharing Declaration

The datasets analyzed during the current study are publicly available from the U.S. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics at

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study design and use of the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 data were approved by the Purdue Institutional Review Board (protocol #1601016989).

Informed Consent

All data used in these analyses came from the publicly available Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Prior to data collection, state and district leaders consented to school participation and the sampling of students. Prior to questionnaire and test administration to students, parents were sent consent letters to notify them about the study. The full details regarding data collection procedures can be found here:


  1. Anguiano, R. P. V. (2004). Families and schools: The effect of parental involvement on high school completion. Journal of Family Issues, 25(1), 61–85. Scholar
  2. Auerbach, S. (2007). From moral supporters to struggling advocates reconceptualizing parent roles in education through the experience of working-class families of color. Urban Education, 42(3), 250–283. Scholar
  3. Benner, A. D., Boyle, A. E., & Sadler, S. (2016). Parental involvement and adolescents’ educational success: The roles of prior achievement and socioeconomic status. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(6), 1053–1064. Scholar
  4. Bhargava, S., & Witherspoon, D. P. (2015). Parental involvement across middle and high school: Exploring contributions of individual and neighborhood characteristics. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(9), 1702–1719. Scholar
  5. Biggs, D., De Ville, B., & Suen, E. (1991). A method of choosing multiway partitions for classification and decision trees. Journal of Applied Statistics, 18(1), 49–62. Scholar
  6. Brody, G. H., & Murry, V. M. (2001). Sibling socialization of competence in rural, single-parent African American families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 996–1008. Scholar
  7. Carnevale, A. P., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2013). Recovery: Job growth and education requirements through 2020. Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  8. Catsambis, S. (2001). Expanding knowledge of parental involvement in children’s secondary education: Connections with high school seniors’ academic success. Social Psychology of Education, 5(2), 149–177. Scholar
  9. Cheung, C. S. S., & Pomerantz, E. M. (2012). Why does parents’ involvement enhance children’s achievement? The role of parent-oriented motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(3), 820–832. Scholar
  10. Christopher, E. (2017). NCES handbook of survey methods: Education longitudinal study of 2002.
  11. Dotterer, A. M., & Wehrspann, E. (2016a). Parent involvement and academic outcomes among urban adolescents: Examining the role of school engagement. Educational Psychology, 36(4), 812–830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dotterer, A. M., & Wehrspann, E. (2016b). Parental knowledge: Examining reporter discrepancies and links to school engagement among middle school studies. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45, 2431–2443. Scholar
  13. Eccles, J. S., & Harold, R. D. (1995). Family involvement in children’s and adolescents’ schooling. In A. Booth & J. F. Dunn (Eds.), Family-school links: How do they affect educational outcomes? (pp. 3–34). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  14. Epstein, J. L. (2001). School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  15. Falbo, T., Lein, L., & Amador, N. A. (2001). Parental involvement during the transition to high school. Journal of Adolescent Research, 16(5), 511–529. Scholar
  16. Garcia-Coll, C., Crnic, K., Lamberty, G., Wasik, B. H., Jenkins, R., Garcia, H. V., & McAdoo, H. P. (1996). An integrative model for the study of developmental competencies in minority children. Child Development, 67(5), 1891–1914. Scholar
  17. Gonzalez-DeHass, A. R., Willems, P. P., & Holbein, M. F. D. (2005). Examining the relationship between parental involvement and student motivation. Educational Psychology Review, 17(2), 99–123. Scholar
  18. Gordon, M. S., & Cui, M. (2012). The effect of school-specific parenting processes on academic achievement in adolescence and young adulthood. Family Relations, 61(5), 728–741. Scholar
  19. Gruenewald, T. L., Mroczek, D. K., Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. H. (2008). Diverse pathways to positive and negative affect in adulthood and later life: an integrative approach using recursive partitioning. Developmental Psychology, 44(2), 330–343. Scholar
  20. Gruenewald, T. L., Seeman, T. E., Ryff, C. D., Karlamangla, A. S., & Singer, B. H. (2006). Combinations of biomarkers predictive of later life mortality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(38), 14158–14163. Scholar
  21. Hayes, D. (2011). Predicting parental home and school involvement in high school African American adolescents. The High School Journal, 94(4), 154–166. Scholar
  22. Hill, N. E., Castellino, D. R., Lansford, J. E., Nowlin, P., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (2004). Parent academic involvement as related to school behavior, achievement, and aspirations: Demographic variations across adolescence. Child Development, 75(5), 1491–1509. Scholar
  23. Hill, N. E., & Chao, R. K. (2009). Background in theory, practice, and policy. In N. E. Hill & R. K. Chao (Eds.), Families, schools, and the adolescent (pp. 1–15). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hill, N. E., & Torres, K. (2010). Negotiating the American dream: The paradox of aspirations and achievement among Latino students and engagement between their families and schools. Journal of Social Issues, 66(1), 95–112. Scholar
  25. Hill, N. E., & Tyson, D. F. (2009). Parental involvement in middle school: A meta-analytic assessment of the strategies that promote achievement. Developmental Psychology, 45(3), 740–763. Scholar
  26. Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., & Sandler, H. (1995). Parental involvement in children’s education: Why does it make a difference? The Teachers College Record, 97(2), 310–331.Google Scholar
  27. Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., & Sandler, H. M. (1997). Why do parents become involved in their children’s education? Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 3–42. Scholar
  28. IBM Corp. Released. (2013). IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 22.0. Armonk, NY: Corp.Google Scholar
  29. Ingels, S. J., Pratt, D. J., Alexander, C. P., Jewell, D. M., Lauff, E., Mattox, T. L., & Wilson, D. (2014). Educational longitudinal study of 2002 (ELS: 2002) third follow-up data file documentation (NCES 2014-364). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  30. Jeynes, W. H. (2007). The relationship between parental involvement and urban secondary school student academic achievement a meta-analysis. Urban Education, 42, 82–110. Scholar
  31. Kuperminc, G. P., Darnell, A. J., SpringerAmpamp; Alvarez-Jimenez, A. (2008). Parent involvement in the academic adjustment of Latino middle and high school youth: Teacher expectations and school belonging as mediators. Journal of Adolescence, 31(4), 469–483. Scholar
  32. Lareau, A. (2011). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  33. Mistry, R. S., White, E. S., Benner, A. D., & Huynh, V. W. (2009). A longitudinal study of the simultaneous influence of mothers’ and teachers’ educational expectations on low-income youth’s academic achievement. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(6), 826–838. Scholar
  34. Murrell, S. A., Salsman, N. L., & Meeks, S. (2003). Educational attainment, positive psychological mediators, and resources for health and vitality in older adults. Journal of Aging and Health, 15(4), 591–615. Scholar
  35. National Center for Education Statistics. (2016a). Digest of education statistics.
  36. National Center for Education Statistics. (2016b). The nation’s report card.
  37. National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). The condition of education 2000. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  38. Pomerantz, E. M., Altermatt, E. R., & Saxon, J. L. (2002). Making the grade but feeling distressed: Gender differences in academic performance and internal distress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(2), 396–404. Scholar
  39. Pomerantz, E. M., Moorman, E. A., & Litwack, S. D. (2007). The how, whom, and why of parents’ involvement in children’s academic lives: More is not always better. Review of Educational Research, 77, 373–410. Scholar
  40. Purpura, D. J., Day, E., Napoli, A. R., & Hart, S. A. (2017). Identifying domain-general and domain-specific predictors of low mathematics performance: A classification and regression tree analysis. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 3(2), 365–399. Scholar
  41. Reynolds, A. D., Crea, T. M., Medina, J., Degnan, E. & McRoy, R. (2015). A mixed-methods case study of parent involvement in an urban high school serving minority students. Urban Education, 50(6), 750–775. Scholar
  42. Rowan-Kenyon, H. T., Bell, A. D., & Perna, L. W. (2008). Contextual influences on parental involvement in college going: Variations by socioeconomic class. The Journal of Higher Education, 79(5), 564–586. Scholar
  43. Smetana, J., & Chuang, S. (2001). Middle-class African American Parents’ conceptions of parenting in early adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11(2), 177–198. Scholar
  44. Speybroeck, N. (2012). Classification and regression trees. International Journal of Public Health, 57(1), 243–246. Scholar
  45. Stewart, E. B. (2008). School structural characteristics, student effort, peer associations, and parental involvement the influence of school-and individual-level factors on academic achievement. Education and Urban Society, 40(2), 179–204. Scholar
  46. Strobl, C., Malley, J., & Tutz, G. (2009). An introduction to recursive partitioning: rationale, application, and characteristics of classification and regression trees, bagging, and random forests. Psychological Methods, 14(4), 323–348. Scholar
  47. Suizzo, M. A., Jackson, K. M., Pahlke, E., Marroquin, Y., Blondeau, L., & Martinez, A. (2012). Pathways to achievement: How low-income Mexican-origin parents promote their adolescents through school. Family Relations, 61(4), 533–547. Scholar
  48. Suizzo, M. A., Jackson, K. M., Pahlke, E., McClain, S., Marroquin, Y., Blondeau, L. A. & Hong, K. (2015). Parents’ school satisfaction and academic socialization predict adolescents’ autonomous motivation: A mixed-method study of low-income ethnic minority families. Journal of Adolescent Research, 31(3), 343–374. 10.117/0743558415605617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Suizzo, M. A., Pahlke, E., Chapman-Hilliard, C., & Harvey, K. E. (2016). African American and Mexican American youths’ college adjustment and perceptions of parental academic socialization: Interactions between ethnicity and parental education. Research in Human Development, 13, 241–257. Scholar
  50. Toldson, I. A., & Lemmons, B. P. (2013). Social demographics, the school environment, and parenting practices associated with parents’ participation in schools and academic success among Black, Hispanic, and White students. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 23(2), 237–255. Scholar
  51. U.S. Department of Commerce. (2011). Overview of race and Hispanic origin: 2010. 2010 Census Briefs, March Issue.
  52. Wang, M. T., & Sheikh-Khalil, S. (2014). Does parental involvement matter for student achievement and mental health in high school? Child Development, 85(2), 610–625. Scholar
  53. Wang, M. T., Hill, N. E., & Hofkens, T. (2014). Parental involvement and African American and European American adolescents’academic, behavioral, and emotional development in secondary school. Child Development, 85(6), 2151–2168. Scholar
  54. Wehrspann, E., Dotterer, A. M., & Lowe, K. (2015). The nature of parental involvement in middle school: Examining nonlinear associations. Contemporary School Psychology, 20(3), 193–204. Scholar
  55. Williams, T. T., & Sánchez, B. (2012). Parental involvement (and uninvolvement) at an inner-city high school. Urban Education, 47(3), 625–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yan, W., & Lin, Q. (2005). Parent involvement and mathematics achievement: Contrast across racial and ethnic groups. The Journal of Educational Research, 99(2), 116–127. Scholar
  57. Zhang, Y., Haddad, E., Torres, B., & Chen, C. (2011). The reciprocal relationships among parents’ expectations, adolescents’ expectations, and adolescents’ achievement: A two-wave longitudinal analysis of the NELS data. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40(4), 479–489. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Postdoctoral Fellow, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational ResearchCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations