School characteristics associated with the educational resilience of low-income and ethnic minority youth
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This study empirically tested Benard’s (1991, 2004) theory of resilience and youth development by examining the influence of caring relationships, high expectations and opportunities for participation and contribution within the schools on the mathematics achievement and timely graduation of public high school students. Additional analyses focused on subsamples of students who were at risk of academic failure and school dropout—students from the lowest socioeconomic quartile, African American and Hispanic students, and a generic at-risk sample that includes students from these three groups plus students who had nontraditional families, had a disability, or were retained a grade in school. The study used data from the Educational Longitudinal Study: 2002, which was designed to monitor young people as they transition from tenth grade to postsecondary education and/or employment. Hierarchical Linear Models and Hierarchical Generalized Linear Models were used for the analyses. Experiences within the schools that conveyed caring relationships, high expectations, and opportunities for participation and contribution were associated with higher senior year mathematics achievement scores and increased odds of timely graduation for the overall public school sample and for the at-risk groups. Suggestions are made for increasing caring relationships, high expectations, and opportunities for participation and contribution within the schools. The limitations of this study and directions for further research are also discussed.