College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 11-20-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Susan D. McMahon, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bernadette Sánchez, Ph.D.


Achievement gaps among students of color in the United States are pervasive and persistent. Identifying trajectories of resilience among Black teens is an important step toward promoting their educational attainment. This study identified risk and protective factors at the individual, family, and school levels hypothesized to influence Black high school students’ attainment. The effects of these risk (behavior problems, lack of college planning, and school problems) and protective factors (academic self-efficacy, parent involvement, and academic climate) on Black students’ educational attainment at 10-year follow-up were assessed. The sample included 2,423 Black 10th-grade students who participated in the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. Multiple hierarchical regression was employed to test the compensatory and protective factor models of resilience. Fewer behavior problems and school problems significantly predicted greater educational attainment at age 26. Higher academic self-efficacy, more college planning, and a more academically oriented climate also predicted greater educational attainment at age 26. In addition, academic climate moderated the relationship between school problems and educational attainment: Black students attending schools with fewer problems benefitted more from an academically oriented climate than students attending schools with more problems. The findings provide a better understanding of how factors at multiple levels contribute to Black youths’ educational attainment in adulthood. Implications for future research and practice are discussed, including recommendations for reducing school problems, increasing college planning, and promoting an academic climate.

SLP Collection