Journal of Research in Rural Education, 2006, 21(3)
School Adjustment and the Academic Success of
Rural African American Early Adolescents in the Deep South
Thomas W. Farmer, Matthew J. Irvin, Jana H. Thompson,
Bryan C. Hutchins, and Man-Chi Leung
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Citation: Farmer, T. W., Irvin, M. J., Thompson, J. H., Hutchins, B. C., & Leung, M.-C. (2006, April 5). School adjustment and the academic success of rural African American early adolescents in the Deep South. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 21(3). Retrieved [date] from http://jrre.psu.edu/articles /21-3.pdf
This study examined the relationship between end-of-year grades and the academic, behavioral, and social characteristics of rural African American youth. Participants included 392 7th and 8th grade students from 2 rural middle schools in the south. Participants were African American and were from 2 communities that have child poverty rates exceeding 50% for public school students. Girls were more likely to have positive characteristics than boys. Academic, behavioral, and social difﬁculties were linked to low end-of-year grades, and positive characteristics were linked to high grades. Implications for supporting low-achieving African American students from low-resource communities are discussed.
Educational difﬁculties are often pronounced in rural
school districts that serve high proportions of minority youth from impoverished backgrounds (Johnson & Strange, 2005;
Khattri, Riley, & Kane, 1997; Save the Children, 2002). In
response to the special needs of low-income rural districts, the U.S. Department of Education established the Rural and
Low-Income School Program (RLISP). To qualify for this
program a district must be designated locale code 6, 7, or 8, and at least 20% of the school-age population must be from
families living below the federal poverty level. The RLISP
serves more than 2.5 million students, over 80% of RLISP
eligible schools are located in the south, and about 500,000 students in the RLISP are African American youth who live
in southern states (Farmer et al., 2006). Although they make up a substantial portion of the RLISP student population,
few studies have focused on the academic performance and
related school adjustment factors of rural African American
youth from low-resource communities. The extant data suggest that there is a signiﬁcant need for more research with this population.
This study was supported by grants U81CCU416369 and
R49CCR419824 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Thomas W. Farmer (Principal Investigator) and in part by Institute of Education Sciences grant R305A04056. The views expressed in this article do not represent the granting agencies. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Thomas W. Farmer, National Research Center on Rural Education Support, C.B. #8115, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8115. (email@example.com)
In a randomly selected sample of RLISP schools, 30%
failed to make adequate yearly progress on No Child Left
Behind (NCLB) criteria (Farmer et al., 2006). In over 40%
of the failing schools, African American and impoverished
youth did not pass end-of-grade standardized tests. These
ﬁndings are consistent with other studies that suggest impoverished rural African American youth may be at risk for achievement problems, school failure, school dropout, and
low educational and occupational attainment (Farmer et al.,
2004; Jeffries, 1993; Kao, & Tienda, 1998; Khattri et al.,
1997; Kim, Brody, & Murry, 2003; McLoyd, 1990, 1998;
Smith, Beaulieu, & Israel, 1992; Valdez, 2000). While this
work indicates that rural African American youth from impoverished communities are at increased risk for academic difﬁculties, very little is known about school adjustment
variables that distinguish between low- and high-achieving
students from such backgrounds. Information along these...
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