Family disruption and academic functioning in urban, black youth

Cheryl L. Somers, Lisa M. Chiodo, Jina Yoon, Hilary Ratner, Elizabeth Barton, Virginia Delaney-Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine from an ecological perspective the relationships between multiple levels of family disruption and children's academic functioning in a sample of 390 urban, Black adolescents at age 14. Subjects in this cohort have been followed longitudinally since before their birth. Data from previous assessments at birth and age 7 years allowed for control of important correlates in this analyses. Examination of this unique sample, using multisource data collection procedures, provides important information about the many family disruptions among urban, low-income families and the effects of these disruptions on academic outcomes. Results revealed several consistent findings, the most notable of which is that, when parents were married, adolescents demonstrated significantly higher grades, mediated through paternal involvement. Of all variables studied, the role of fathers in the lives of these adolescents was the most influential on academic outcomes. In this unique sample, even variables such as involvement with child protective services were not significantly related to outcomes after important control variables were factored into analyses. Results of this study have important implications for future research and for prevention and intervention efforts in urban, at-risk samples. Emphasis is made for work in the school context, particularly for school psychologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology in the Schools
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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