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Academic Behavior and Performance Among African American Youth: Associations with Resources for Resilience

Abstract

A social support and coping framework informed the present research on children’s academic behavior and performance. Forty-six African American children aged 8–12 years were recruited from the 2011/2012 enrollment list of a partnering school. Data on children’s resources for resilience (e.g., coping skills, perceived support from caregivers) were collected through administered surveys. Additional data on academic outcomes were collected from children’s progress reports and most recent standardized tests. Children’s resources for resilience were associated with academic outcomes. Among the total sample, greater perceived support from caregivers and behavioral coping by the child were associated with less child-reported school misbehavior and greater teacher-evaluated reading performance. Among African American boys, but not girls, a quarter of the variance in standardized test scores in reading (r = .50 vs. r = .06) and math (r = .55 vs. r = −.01) was explained by behavioral coping. If further research supports the present set of findings, school-based mental health services for families and prevention programs that target children’s use of coping strategies in the presence of stressors may prove beneficial to children’s academic success.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by a grant awarded to Dr. Winston and Dr. Brady by the University of Minnesota Medical School Program in Health Disparities Research. Dr. Winston and Dr. Brady’s time was also supported by the National Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center for African American Men’s Health, funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (1U54MD008620-01). The authors gratefully acknowledge the support and contributions of the following individuals: Lauren Mammini, MPH; Sonja Ausen-Anifrani, MPH; Nancy Spack, Family & Community Liaison; Delores Henderson, PhD; Steve Schellenberg, PhD; Michael Golden, MPH; Rhonda Jones-Webb, PhD; and members of the Minnesota Association of Black Psychologists.

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Correspondence to Ashley A. Chesmore.

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Chesmore, A.A., Winston, W. & Brady, S.S. Academic Behavior and Performance Among African American Youth: Associations with Resources for Resilience. Urban Rev 48, 1–14 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-015-0342-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-015-0342-9

Keywords

  • Resilience
  • Coping
  • Social support
  • Academics
  • African American
  • Behavior