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School transitions (e.g., from elementary school to middle school and from middle school to high school) are times of great change for most youth and are often associated with declines in motivation, confidence, and school grades. Little research on these critical transitions has focused on African American students, whose adjustment is further complicated by their growing awareness of racial discrimination and race stereotypes. In spite of these challenges, many African American youth do well in school. The goal of this longitudinal project is to identify the factors that lead to success in middle school and high school for Black youth. We are particularly interested in the influences of parents’ attitudes and beliefs about achievement, ways in which parents talk to their children about stereotypes and discrimination, and how parents foster healthy adjustment and academic success in African American youth.

Approximately 900 youth and their parents and teachers have participated in the study. Our initial sample was recruited when children were in fifth grade. Follow-up assessments occur in Grades 7, 10, and 12.

Here are a few helpful links for more information about school achievement and how you can help your student thrive:

The Adjustment to Middle School
Homework Hints
Helpful Websites for Parents
Project Results

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants DRL #0819079 and BSC #0335221. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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