A Longitudinal Study of Latino Students' Grade 3 Academic Achievement: The Role of Early Childhood Family and School Characteristics
Previous Grant Number: R305A130090
Previous University Affiliation: New York University School of Medicine
Purpose: Experiences during early childhood play a critical role in shaping the academic trajectories of students throughout elementary school and into middle and high school. For Latino students, who are at high risk for high school dropout, these experiences unfold within a unique cultural context defined by immutable factors such as country of origin and immigrant status. Yet within this context, culturally specific processes at the child, family and school levels, such as cultural socialization, culturally responsive teaching and student ethnic identity, represent potentially malleable targets for intervention. Consideration of these processes may indicate ways to improve the efficacy of early childhood interventions that involve both parents and teachers working together to reduce well-documented achievement gaps for Latino students. The purpose of this exploratory study is to test a model of Latino children’s academic development by examining universal and culturally specific characteristics of the early childhood ecological context as predictors of student academic achievement in third grade.
Project Activities: This Exploration study takes advantage of an ongoing, prospective longitudinal study (NICHD-funded to Esther Calzada; 2010–2015) of Latino students at risk for academic underachievement. Specifically, the family and school environments of two large and growing Latino subgroups, Mexican and Dominican, are being examined to determine the role of these environments in shaping trajectories of learning from prekindergarten to first grade. The investigation will be extended with this IES funding to look at academic achievement in third grade. Specifically, the researchers will test hypotheses about the role of universal (e.g., parenting practices, classroom behavior management) and culturally specific variables (e.g., cultural socialization in the home and culturally responsive teaching practices) in prekindergarten and kindergarten and their relationship to Latino children’s early learning and behavior problems in first grade and academic achievement in third grade. Child, family, and school characteristics (e.g., child gender, maternal language status) that may moderate the relations between early childhood predictors and later academic achievement will also be explored.
Products: The products of this study will be information about culturally specific processes at the child, family, and school levels, to improve the academic achievement trajectories for Latino students. Peer-reviewed publications will also be produced.
Setting: The proposed study builds on an ongoing, prospective longitudinal study of prekindergarten and kindergarten Latino students from 24 public elementary schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City.
Sample: Data will be collected from 650 third-grade students who enrolled in the NICHD-funded longitudinal study when they were in prekindergarten or kindergarten who are either of Mexican or Dominican origin. Across the sample, the families are primarily immigrants (92 percent), Spanish-speaking (88 percent), and low-income (70 percent living in poverty).
Intervention: Malleable factors such as cultural socialization, culturally responsive teaching and student ethnic identity are being investigated. These factors are possible targets for intervention among young Latino students and their families of Mexican or Dominican origin, to improve academic trajectories in early elementary school.
Research Design and Methods: This is a follow-up study to evaluate academic trajectories from the first year of schooling (in prekindergarten or kindergarten) to third grade. As part of the NICHD-funded study, children of Mexican or Dominican origin are being enrolled over 3 years from 24 public elementary schools as they enter school in prekindergarten or kindergarten and are followed until the end of first grade to examine characteristics of the child, family, and school in the first year of school that predict children’s early learning and behavior problems in first grade. In this study, the researchers will follow these same children into third grade and assess their academic achievement in order to identify universal and culturally specific processes that may predict academic achievement at a key developmental time point (i.e., third grade) that has significant implications for high school graduation.
Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no control condition.
Key Measures: Academic achievement will be measured in third grade using (1) New York state standardized achievement test scores in Math and English Language Arts; (2) school grades; and (3) teacher ratings of academic competence on the Behavior Assessment System for Children- 2 (BASC-2). Measures that are currently being collected as part of the NICHD-funded study will be considered as predictors of third-grade academic achievement outcomes (e.g., Parenting Styles and Dimensions, the Teaching Strategies Questionnaire, the Abbreviated Multidimensional Acculturation Scale (AMAS), the Cultural Socialization of Latino Children, the Culturally Responsive Teaching Self-Efficacy Scale, the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, Second Edition, Brief Form, the Early Childhood Ethnic Identity Interview, and the Wechsler Nonverbal Scale of Ability).
Data Analytic Strategy: Multivariate mixed model analyses will be applied. Data will be drawn from multiple time points starting in prekindergarten or kindergarten (depending on enrollment into the study) through grade 3. Mediation models will be used to test whether parent and teacher practices in prekindergarten and kindergarten predict Latino students’ behavior and learning in first grade, and whether they in turn predict academic achievement in third grade. Moderation mediation models will be used to examine whether child, family or school characteristics moderate relations between early childhood predictors and academic outcomes in third grade.