Family Disadvantage, School Context, and the Educational Attainment of African American Males Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Roberts, Cheryl
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • Black boys and men face multifaceted and well-documented barriers to equality. Taking a life-course and ecological approach, this dissertation uses the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to investigate how the concentration of disadvantages in home and school environments in early to middle adolescence relates to the educational attainment of black males in young adulthood. This study makes strategic comparisons to black females and white youth. It finds that accumulating disadvantages in the home and school environments show a particularly negative relationship to college entry for black males relative to black females and white youth. School disadvantages also accentuate the negative effects of family disadvantage on educational attainment. Chapter 2 investigates how multiple family disadvantages individually and cumulatively relate to high school completion and college entry. The cumulative family disadvantage index includes: low parental education, poverty status, non-intact family structure, and being born to a teenage mother. High levels of family disadvantage show a more negative relationship to college entry among black males than among black females and white youth. This chapter demonstrates how the intersection of multiple status configurations in early adolescence--race, gender and family disadvantage--relates to educational attainment. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on the student composition at school. Among black males, concentrated schoolmate disadvantage sharply reduces the likelihood of high school completion and especially college entry (after accounting for individual, family, school, and neighborhood covariates). Chapter 4 investigates the male climate at the school level, finding that exposure to a higher prevalence of aggressive and violent boys negatively relates to the educational attainment of black and white males. This negative risk is multiplied in the presence of other disadvantages: individual family disadvantage and school environments with high concentration of disadvantaged peers. This chapter highlights how disadvantages tend to cluster to amplify risk among African American boys. This dissertation contributes to our understanding of how interdependent ecological contexts in adolescence relate to educational attainment and how these relationships vary according to individuals' overlapping social statuses and identities (race, gender, and family background).
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Tyson, Karolyn
  • Harris, Kathleen Mullan
  • Burchinal, Margaret
  • Elder, Glen H.
  • Shanahan, Michael
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2014
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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