This study examined how youth, peer, family, and school factors serve as risk and protective factors for African American youth’s school competence during the transition to high school. Understanding factors that affect school competence is critical for addressing academic achievement gaps and differential opportunities as adults between African Americans and non-minority peers in American society.
Objectives were to: a) identify mediators of anticipated negative effects of exposure to multiple risks for the academic achievement and adjustment of African American youth during the transition to high school; b) determine multiple youth (e.g., greater engagement in school, stronger racial identity), peer (e.g., higher quality friendships and less loneliness), family (e.g., greater parental monitoring of activities and responsive and supportive parenting), and school (e.g., supportive teacher-student relationships and fewer low-income youth) characteristics that serve as protective factors for school competence; and c) examine whether developmental trajectories across academic achievement, adjustment, and peer relationships during the transition to high school are linked for African American youth.
Understanding the sociocultural factors that affect school competence of African Americans in high school is critical, given the demographic and ecological gaps between African American and White children in American society. Study findings should have important implications for school success and guide interventions to promote school competence.