A Prospective Study of Mexican American Adolescents' Academic Success: Considering Family and Individual Factors

Mark W. Roosa, Megan O'Donnell, Heining Cham, Nancy A. Gonzales, Katherine H. Zeiders, Jenn Yun Tein, George P. Knight, Adriana Umaña-Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Mexican American youth are at greater risk of school failure than their peers. To identify factors that may contribute to academic success in this population, this study examined the prospective relationships from 5th grade to 7th grade of family (i. e., human capital [a parent with at least a high school education], residential stability, academically and occupationally positive family role models, and family structure) and individual characteristics (i. e., externalizing symptoms, bilingualism, gender, and immigrant status) to the academic performance of 749 Mexican American early adolescents (average age = 10.4 years and 48.7% were girls in 5th grade) from economically and culturally diverse families as these youth made the transition to junior high school. Results indicated that while controlling for prior academic performance, human capital and positive family role models assessed when adolescents were in 5th grade positively related to academic performance in 7th grade. Further, being a girl also was related to greater 7th grade academic success, whereas externalizing symptoms were negatively related to 7th grade academic performance. No other variables in the model were significantly and prospectively related to 7th grade academic performance. Implications for future research and interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-319
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic performance
  • Bilingualism
  • Human capital
  • Mental health
  • Mexican Americans
  • Role models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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