American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 381–402 | Cite as

Academic Achievement of African American Preadolescents: The Influence of Teacher Perceptions

  • Sherri F. Seyfried


The purpose of this study was to identify the factors associated with the academic success of predominantly, middle-class African American preadolescent students. This study proposed an ecological model that considered the interaction of family environment, teacher perceptions of social skills, and student characteristics. The estimated model explained 58% of the variance in grade point average. Path analysis revealed three direct effects on grade point average, (a) grade level (negative), (b) teacher perceptions of social skills, and (c) academic ability. Findings revealed that teacher perceptions of social skills was a stronger predictor of grade point average than academic ability. Two indirect effects on grade point average were found. The first indirect effect was negative: gender predicted academic ability, which predicted teacher perceptions of social skills, which predicted grade point average. The second indirect effect was positive and it was from ability to teacher perceptions to grade point average. Implications for policy and practice are made that suggest a collaborative model of school counseling designed to “promote” the social and academic competence of African American students. Interventions that enhance teacher practices are also suggested.

academic success African American preadolescents teacher perceptions 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adenika-Morrow, T. J. (1995). Building self esteem in at-risk minority youths through a creative approach to teaching math and science. Equity and Excellence in Education, 28(3), 32–37.Google Scholar
  2. Babad, E., Inabar, J., & Rosenthal, R. (1982). Pygmalion, Galatea and the and the Golem: Investigations of biased and unbiased teachers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(4), 459–474.Google Scholar
  3. Bee, H. (1995). The developing child. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  4. Berger, J., Rosenholtz, S., & Zelditch, M. (1980). Status organizing processes. Annual Review of Sociology, 6, 479–508.Google Scholar
  5. Bloom, B. L. (1977). Community mental health (p. 250). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  6. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments bv nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brooks-Gunn, J., Klebanov, P. K., & Duncan, G. J. (1996). Ethnic differences in children's intelligence scores: Role of economic deprivation, home environment, and maternal character. Child Development, 67, 396–408.Google Scholar
  8. Brophy, J. (1987). Synthesis of research on strategies for motivating students to learn. Educational Leadership, 45, 1987.Google Scholar
  9. Brophys, J., & Good, T. L. (1986). Teacher behavior and achievement. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (pp. 328–375). New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  10. Bushweller, K. (1995). Ahead of the curve. Executive Educator, 17(1), 25–27.Google Scholar
  11. Chunn, E. W. (1989). Sorting black students for success and failure: The inequity of ability grouping and tracking. In W. D. Smith and E. W. Chunn (Eds.), Black education: A quest for equity and excellence (pp. 93–106). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.Google Scholar
  12. Clark, R. M. (1983). Family life and school achievement: Why poor black children succeed or fail. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Coll, C., Lamberty, G., Jenkins, R., MacAdoo, Pipes, H., Crnic, K., Wasik, B., Hanna, G., & Vazquez, H. (1996). An integrative model for the study of development competencies in minority children. Child Development, 67, 1891–1914.Google Scholar
  14. College Entrance Examination Board (1992). Annual report: Report of the College Entrance Examination Board. Princeton, NJ: Author.Google Scholar
  15. Copperrnan, J. (1984). Summary. The National Commission in Education. A National at Risk: The Full Account (p. 1–3). Cambridge, MA: United States Research.Google Scholar
  16. Crandall, V. C., Katkovsky, W., and Crandall, V. J. (1965). Children's beliefs in their own control of reinforcements in intellectual-academic achievement situations. Child Development, 36, 91–109.Google Scholar
  17. Dryfoos, J. G. (1990). Adolescents at risk: Prevalence and prevention. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Epps, E., & Jackson, K. W. (1985). Educational and occupational aspirations and early attainment of black males and females. Research report: Southern Education Foundation.Google Scholar
  19. Erikson, E. H. (1964). Insight and responsibility: Lectures on the ethical implications of psychoanalytical insight. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  20. Feldman, S. S., & Wentzel, K. R. (1990). Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 813–819.Google Scholar
  21. Feldman, S. S., & Wood, D. N. (1994). Patients' expectations for preadolescent sons' behavioral autonomy: A longitudinal study of correlates and outcomes. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 4(1), 45–70.Google Scholar
  22. Ford, D. Y., & Harris, J. J. III. (1992). The American achievement ideology and achievement differentials among preadolescent gifted and non gifted African American males and females. Journal of Negro Education, 61(1), 45–64.Google Scholar
  23. Fordham, S., & Ogbu, J. U. (1986). Black students school success: Coping with the burden of ‘acting white’. Urban Review, 18(3), 176–296.Google Scholar
  24. Germain, C. (1988). School as a living environment within the community. Social Work in Education, 10(4), 260–276.Google Scholar
  25. Graham, S. (1994). Motivation in African Americans. Review of Educational Research, 64(1), 55–117.Google Scholar
  26. Graham, S. (1997). Using attribution theory to understand social and academic motivation in African American youth. Educational Psychologist, 32(1), 21–34.Google Scholar
  27. Gresham, F. M., & Elliot, S. N. (1990). Social Skills Rating System, Manual. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  28. Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., Kosterman, R., Abott, R. D., Hill, K. G., and Janodz, M. (1996, October). Promoting academic success and preventing adolescent health risk behaviors: Six year follow-up of the Seattle Social Development Project. Paper presented at the meeting of the Life History Research Society, London.Google Scholar
  29. Herrnstein, R. J., & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American Life. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  30. Howerton, L. D., Enger, J. M., & Cobbs, C. R. (1993). Locus of control and achievement for at-risk adolescent black males. High School Journal, 76(3), 210–214.Google Scholar
  31. Jacobs, J. E. (1989). Taking the initiative in education: The National Urban League agenda. In W. D. Smith & E. W. Chunn (Eds.), Black education: A quest for equity and excellence (pp. 13–17). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.Google Scholar
  32. Kellam, S. G., & Rebok, G. W. (1992). Building developmental and etiological theory through epidemiologically based preventive intervention trials. In J. McCord and R. E. Tremblay (Eds.) Preventing antisocial behavior interventions from birth through adolescence (pp. 162–195). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  33. Lefcourt, H. M. (1990). Locus of control. In P. R. Shaver & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  34. Madhere, S. (1995). Beyond the Bell Curve Toward a model of talent and character development. Journal of Negro Education, 64(3), 326–339.Google Scholar
  35. Maguin, E., & Loeber, R. (1996). Academic performance and delinquency. Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, 20, 145–264.Google Scholar
  36. McLoyd, V. C. (1990). The impact of economic hardship on black families and children: Psychological distress, parenting, and socioemotional development. Child Development, 61, 311–346.Google Scholar
  37. Moos, R., & Moos, B. (1987b). Family Environment Scale Manual, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press.Google Scholar
  38. Mussen, P. H., Conger, J. J., and Kagan, J. (1974). Child development and personality. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  39. Nowicki, S., Jr., & Strickland, B. R. (1973). A locus of control scale for children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 40, 154–158.Google Scholar
  40. Ogbu, J. (1993). Differences in cultural frame of reference. In International roots of minority child development [Special issue]. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 16(3), 483–506.Google Scholar
  41. Page, S., & Rosenthal, R. (1990). Sex and expectations of teachers and sex and race of students as determinants of teaching behavior and student performnance. Journal of School Psychology, 28(23, 119–131.Google Scholar
  42. Pappas, G., Queen, S., & Fisher, G. (1993). The increasing disparity in mortality between socioeconomic status and mortality. New England Journal of Medicine, 329, 103–109.Google Scholar
  43. Pedhazur, E. J. (1982). Multiple regression in behavioral research prediction and explanation (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  44. Powell, G. J. (1983). The psychosocial development of minority group children. New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  45. Rosenthal, R. (1973). The pygmalion effect lives. Psychology Today, 7(4), 56–63.Google Scholar
  46. Rosenthal, R. (1995). Critiquing Pygmalion: A 25-year perspective. Current directions in psychological science, 4(6), 171–172.Google Scholar
  47. Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the classroom: Teacher expectations and pupils' intellectual development. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  48. Rothenberg, D. (1995). Supporting girls in early adolescence. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement.Google Scholar
  49. Rotter, G. (1966). Generalized expectations for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychology Monographs, 80(No. 609).Google Scholar
  50. Sabatino, C. A. (1991). School social work consultation: Theory, practice, and research. In R. Constable, J. P. Flynn, & S. P. McDonald (Eds.), Social work: Practice and research (pp. 257–272). Homewood, IL: Dorsey.Google Scholar
  51. Seyfried, S. F. (1994). Academic achievement of Black preadolescents: Factors associated with success. Unpublished dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago.Google Scholar
  52. Spencer, M. B., & Markstrom-Adams, C. (1990). Identity processes among racial and ethnic minority children in America. Child Development, 61, 209–310.Google Scholar
  53. Steinberg, L., & Darling, N. (1994). The broader context of social influence in adolescence. In R. K. Silbereisen & E. Todt (Eds.), Adolescence in context (pp. 25–45). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  54. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. (1990). Healthy people 2000: National health promotion and disease prevention objectives. Washington, DC: Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Printing Office.Google Scholar
  55. Wangler, D. G. (1995). Is “The Bell Curve” a ringer? Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 41(3), 360–366.Google Scholar
  56. Wechsler, D. (1939). The measurement of adult intelligence. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.Google Scholar
  57. White, R. W. (1959). Motivation reconsidered: The concept of competence. Psychological Review, 66, 297–333.Google Scholar
  58. Wilson, M. N, Kohn, L. P., & Curry-El, J. (1995). The influence of family structure characteristics on the child-rearing behaviors of African American mothers. Journal of Black Psychology, 21, 450–462.Google Scholar
  59. Winters, W., & Maluccio, A. (1988). School, family and community: Working together to promote social competence. Social Work in Education, 10, 207–217.Google Scholar
  60. Wolfe, L., & Ethington, C. (1985). Gemini: Program for analysis of structural equations with standard errors of indirect effects. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers 17, 581–584.Google Scholar
  61. Yuchtman-Yaar, E., & Semyonov, M. (1979). Ethnic inequality in Israeli schools and sports: An Expectation-States approach. American Journal of Sociology 85(3), 576–590.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sherri F. Seyfried
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Washington School of Social WorkUSA.

Personalised recommendations