A LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF INNER-CITY ELEMENTARY-SCHOOL CHILDREN'S ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT, SELF-CONCEPT, AND ATTITUDE TOWARD SCHOOL

FREDERIC WALTER WIDLAK, Purdue University

Abstract

The academic and social-personal development of inner-city elementary-school children was investigated longitudinally from grades one through six. Initial data-gathering included social-personal information from pupils' teachers, parents, and peers, together with classroom-administered cognitive and affective measures. Subsequent data collection was limited to repeated measures of three major educational outcomes: academic achievement, self-concept, and attitude toward school. Attrition of students over time biased the complete-data sample toward exclusion of boys and low-achievers. Tracking of students was disrupted by busing out of neighborhood schools and produced a two-part study: an investigation of demographic and ability influences on outcomes at the first-grade level (N = 108); plus a longitudinal follow-up of outcomes in grades two, three, and six (N = 80). First-grade results showed the greatest reading achievement for high-ability black girls, the most positive self-concept for high-ability whites, and the most favorable attitude toward school for black children. School aggregate effects were minimal for first-grade reading achievement, but substantial for self-concept and attitude toward school. Longitudinal results in grades two, three, and six showed virtually no influence on academic achievement by previous levels of self-concept or school attitude, a moderate association between self-concept and school attitude starting at grade three, some influence of prior achievement level on the social-personal outcomes at grade six, and increasing intercorrelation among concurrent levels of the three outcomes as students progressed through school. Grade progress curves for the outcomes were similar for boys and girls, and showed reading grade-equivalent scores gradually slip below the national norm. Self-concept scores showed a relatively flat profile over time. School-attitude scores increased significantly between grades two and three, then declined significantly between grades three and six. The predictability of outcome levels increased with grade level, but school aggregate effects weakened substantially as students passed through the grades. ^

Degree

Ph.D.

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology

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