Tag Education

Tag Education

Religious Attendance, Family Structure and School Performance of U.S. High School Students

Tags:

Download PDF

American high school students from intact families that worship frequently have as a group the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) for English and math combined.

Teenagers who live in intact families that worship weekly score a combined GPA of 2.9. Students who worship at least monthly but reside in families not headed by both biological parents score a combined 2.7 GPA, as do students who live in a family with both natural parents but who worship less than monthly. Those who are not living with both biological parents and who worship less than monthly have the lowest GPA (2.5).

Other Studies

Several other studies also reveal significant correlations among religious attendance, intact family structure, and educational performance. Examining the National Education Longitudinal Study, Jerry Trusty at Texas A&M University and Richard Watts of Baylor University report that “the more frequently [high school seniors] attended religious activities, the more likely they were to have parents who were involved in their lives and gave recognition to good grades, to have high expectations for the future and to have a positive attitude toward academics, and to spend more time on homework.”1

Chandra Muller and Christopher Ellison of the University of Texas at Austin concur in their finding that “youths who were more religiously involved were more likely to report that their parents had high expectations for their education and were more likely to talk with their parents about school.”2

Having natural married parents to talk with about school makes an even bigger difference, according to a study by Nan Astone of Johns Hopkins University and Sara McLanahan of Princeton University. “Children of single or stepparents reported that their parents had lower educational expectations for them, compared to reports from children in intact families. The former group also reported that their parents are less likely to monitor schoolwork … compared to reports from children in intact families.”3

The combination, then, of an intact married family with frequent religious activity seems key to fostering superior educational outcomes. Diane Brown of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Lawrence Gary of Howard University conducted a survey of black adults in a major Eastern city, a demographic in which broken families are quite prevalent, which indicates that although “religious socialization had a stronger impact on educational attainment than did family structure, … at the highest levels of religious socialization, educational attainment was higher for those individuals who grew up with both parents. In other words, the impact on education was greatest when there was an intact family and high religious attendance.4

When the two great loves are combined, love of God and love of spouse, children thrive most.

1 Jerry Trusty and Richard E. Watts, “Relationship of High School Seniors’ Religious Perceptions and Behavior to Educational, Career, and Leisure Variables,” Counseling and Values 44 (1999): 30-40.

2 Chandra Muller and Christopher G. Ellison, “Religious Involvement, Social Capital, and Adolescents’ Academic Progress: Evidence from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988,” Sociological Focus 34 (2001): 155-183.

3 Nan M. Astone and Sara S. McLanahan, “Family Structure, Parental Practices, and High School Completion,” American Sociological Review 56 (1991): 309-320.

4 Diane R. Brown and Lawrence E. Gary, “Religious Socialization and Educational Attainment among African Americans: An Empirical Assessment,” The Journal of Negro Education 60 (1991): 411-426.

Religious Attendance and Expulsion or Suspension from School

Tags:

Download PDF

Adolescents who worship at least weekly are least likely to be expelled or suspended from school.

According to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Waves I and II, 21 percent of students in Grades 7-12 who worship at least weekly have ever been suspended or expelled. By contrast, almost 39 percent of adolescents who never worship have been suspended or expelled. In between are those who attend services one to three times a month (27.6 percent) and those who attend services less than once a month (30.4 percent).

Other Studies

Very little research has been done on the correlation between religious attendance and suspension or expulsion from school, but what research exists corroborates the direction of these findings.

In a 2002 study, Christian Smith and Robert Faris of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that only 17.8 percent of high school seniors who attended religious services weekly or more had ever been expelled or suspended. By contrast, 31.8 percent of seniors who never attended religious services had been expelled or suspended. In between are those who attended services once or twice a month (23.4 percent) and those who attended “rarely” (27.9 percent).[2]

Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin and Glen Elder of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also reported that religious attendance reduces the likelihood of expulsion or suspension.[3]

Jerry Trusty of Texas A&M University and Richard Watts of Baylor University examined religion and delinquency data in the National Education Longitudinal Study[4] and found that high school seniors who frequently attended religious activities were less likely to be delinquent than those who do not attend church frequently.[5]

As the evidence shows, students who spend more time in church are likely to spend more time in school.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow
Director of the Center for Family and Religion
Family Research Council

[1] This chart draws on a large national sample (16,000) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. This work was done by the author in cooperation with former colleagues at The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.

[2] Christian Smith and Robert Faris, Religion and American Adolescent Delinquency, Risk Behaviors and Constructive Social Activities (Chapel Hill, N.C.: National Study of Youth and Religion, 2002): 40-41.

[3] Mark D. Regnerus and Glen H. Elder, “Staying on Track in School: Religious Influences in High- and Low-Risk Settings,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 42 (2003): 633-649.

[4] The delinquency data included school suspensions, arrests, and time spent in juvenile centers.

[5] Jerry Trusty and Richard E. Watts, “Relationship of High School Seniors’ Religious Perceptions and Behavior to Educational, Career, and Leisure Variables,” Counseling and Values, vol. 44 (1999): 30-40.

Family Structure and Expulsion or Suspension from School

Tags:

Download PDF

Adolescents who live in an intact married family are least likely to be expelled or suspended from school.

According to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Waves I and II, 20 percent of students in Grades 7-12 who live with their married, biological parents have ever been suspended or expelled from school. By contrast, more than 50 percent of adolescents who live with a single, never-married parent have ever been suspended or expelled. In between are those who live with two biological cohabiting parents (34.3 percent), those living with a step-parent (35.9 percent), those whose parents are divorced (37 percent), and those who live with one biological cohabiting parent (40.8 percent).

Other Studies

Several other studies corroborate the direction of these findings. Christine Winquist Nord of Westat and Jerry West of the National Center for Education Statistics reported that students living with both biological parents “are less likely to have behavior problems at school that result in their being suspended or expelled.”[2]

John Hoffman of Brigham Young University also found that the incidence of problem behaviors, including fighting, being arrested, and getting expelled or suspended, was much lower among adolescents living with both biological parents than within any other family structure.[3]

Cesar Rebellon of the University of New Hampshire examined five measures of delinquency data from the National Youth Survey, including truancy and interpersonal aggression, and found that adolescent boys (and to a lesser extent, adolescent girls) living with divorced parents had higher delinquency scores than adolescents from intact married families.[4]

In a study of youth in Edinburgh, Scotland, David Smith and Susan McVie of the University of Edinburgh found that adolescents living with a mother and stepfather or in single-parent homes were more delinquent[5] than those living with both biological parents.[6]

The data clearly indicate that adolescents who live with both parents are more likely to be in school and less likely to be suspended or expelled.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow
Director of the Center for Family and Religion
Family Research Council

[1] This chart draws on a large national sample (16,000) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. This work was done by the author in cooperation with former colleagues at The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.

[2] Christine Winquist Nord and Jerry West, “Fathers’ and Mothers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools by Family Type and Resident Status,” National Household Education Survey (May 2001): 31-32.

[3] John P. Hoffman, “Family Structure, Community Context, and Adolescent Problem Behaviors,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 35 (2006): 867-880.

[4] Cesar J. Rebellon, “Do Adolescents Engage in Delinquency to Attract the Social Attention of Peers? An Extension and Longitudinal Test of the Social Reinforcement Hypothesis,” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, vol. 43 (2006): 387-411.

[5] Two of the fifteen delinquency measures used included theft at school and truancy.

[6] David J. Smith and Susan McVie, “Theory and Method in the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime,” British Journal of Criminology, vol. 42 (2003): 169-195. This finding is from www.familyfacts.org .

Religious Attendance, Family Structure, and Expulsion or Suspension from School

Tags:

Download PDF

Adolescents from intact families who worship frequently are the least likely to be expelled or suspended from school.

This chart depicts the percentage of adolescents in Grades 7-12 who have ever been suspended or expelled from school, correlated with their religious attendance and family structure. Only 17.3 percent of adolescent students who are living with both biological parents and worship at least monthly have ever been suspended or expelled from school. By contrast, 46.7 percent who worship less than monthly and come from single-parent or reconstituted families have been expelled or suspended. In between are those who live with both biological parents and worship less than monthly (25.5 percent) and those in non-intact families who worship at least monthly (32.5 percent). The data are taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Waves I and II.

Other Studies[2]

Though little additional research has been done on the correlation of religious attendance, family structure, and expulsion or suspension from school, several studies corroborate the direction of these findings.

Wendy Manning of Bowling Green State University and Kathleen Lamb of the University of Wisconsin reported that adolescents who were more religious were less likely to be suspended or expelled, as were adolescents who lived with their married parents.[3]

Bryon Johnson of Baylor University and colleagues analyzed delinquency data from the National Youth Survey, which included delinquency measures such as “damaged school property,” “hit teacher,” “hit students,” and “skipped classes.” They found that adolescent religiosity was associated with lower levels of delinquency and that adolescents who lived with both biological parents were less likely to associate with delinquent friends.[4]

Jerry Trusty of Texas A&M University and Richard Watts of Baylor University found that the more often adolescents attended religious activities and the greater importance they gave to religion, the more likely they were to have involved parents and the less likely they were to be delinquent.[5]

When it comes to keeping adolescents from being expelled, the intact married family that worships weekly earns the best marks.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow
Director of the Center for Family and Religion
Family Research Council

[1] This chart draws on a large national sample (16,000) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. This work was done by the author in cooperation with former colleagues at The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.

[2] The following findings are from www.familyfacts.org.

[3] Wendy D. Manning and Kathleen A. Lamb, “Adolescent Well-Being in Cohabiting, Married, and Single-Parent Families,” Journal of Marriage and Family, vol. 65 (2003): 876-893.

[4] Byron R. Johnson, et al., “Does Adolescent Religious Commitment Matter? A Reexamination of the Effects of Religiosity on Delinquency,” vol. 38 (2001): 22-44.

[5] Jerry Trusty and Richard E. Watts, “Relationship of High School Seniors’ Religious Perceptions and Behavior to Educational, Career, and Leisure Variables,” Counseling and Values, vol. 44 (1999): 30-40. The three delinquency measures derived from the National Education Longitudinal Study included school suspensions, arrests, and time spent in juvenile centers.

Repeating a Grade and Religious Attendance

Tags:

Download PDF

This chart is taken from a study conducted by Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.[1] for Family Research Council.[2]

Children who attend worship at least monthly are less likely to repeat a grade than those who worship less frequently.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, children who attend religious services one to three times a month and those who attend every week are only half as likely to have ever repeated a grade in school as those who attend less than one a month or not at all. The respective rates of grade repetition found in the survey were 10.2 percent for those attending weekly, 8.7 percent for those attending at least monthly but less than weekly, 20.7 percent for those attending less than once a month, and 20.6 percent for those who did not attend at all in the last year.

The difference in grade repetition rates between those attending services weekly and monthly was inconsequential, as was the difference in rates between those attending less than monthly and not at all.

Other Studies

While at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mark Regnerus found that “youth church participation positively affects both educational aspirations and achievement.”[3]

Glen Elder of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Rand Conger of Iowa State University reported that adolescents who become more religiously involved in high school tend to score higher on academic competence indicators.[4]

Regnerus, now at the University of Texas at Austin, and Elder also found that “church attendance exhibits a stable relationship with educational progress.”[5]

As the data indicate, students who attend religious services at least monthly are more likely to excel academically and much less likely to repeat a grade.

Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist
Former Vice President of Westat
Founding President of Child Trends

[1] Nicholas Zill is a research psychologist and consultant. Until his recent retirement, he was a vice president of Westat Inc. He was the founder of Child Trends and its executive director for 13 years.

[2] This chart draws on data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) in 2003. The data sample consisted of parents of 102,353 children and teens in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 68,996 of these children and teens were between six and 17 years old, the age group that was the focus of the study. The survey sample in this age range represented a population of nearly 49 million young people nationwide.

[3] Mark D. Regnerus, “Shaping Schooling Success: Religious Socialization and Educational Outcomes in Metropolitan Public Schools,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 39 (2000): 363-370.

[4] Glen H. Elder Jr. and Rand D. Conger, Children of the Land (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 159-160.

[5] Mark D. Regnerus and Glen H. Elder Jr., “Staying on Track in School: Religious Influences in High- and Low-Risk Settings,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 42 (2003): 633-649.

Repeating a Grade and Family Structure

Tags:

Download PDF

This chart is taken from a study conducted by Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.[1] for Family Research Council.[2]

Children who live with both biological parents or two adoptive parents are less likely to repeat a grade than those who do not.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, children who live with both biological parents or two adoptive parents are only one third as likely to have ever repeated a grade in school as those who living with their mother only, with one biological parent and a stepparent,[3] or in other family configurations, such as with their father only or with foster parents.[4] The respective rates of grade repetition found in the survey were 6.5 percent for those living with both parents, 19.9 percent for those living with mother only, 21.8 percent for those living with a parent and stepparent, and 21.9 percent for those living in other family configurations.

The difference in grade repetition rates between those living with mother only and those living with a birth parent and stepparent, while statistically significant, was relatively minor.

Other Studies

Nicholas Zill found similar differences in grade repetition rates between children of ages 7-17 living with their mother and father and those living with their mother only or with mother and stepfather in an analysis of data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey on Child Health.[5]

Several other studies corroborate these findings. Robert Byrd of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and colleagues reported that students in two-parent households are less likely to repeat a grade than those in one-parent households.[6]

Hak-Ju Kim of Washington University in St. Louis also found that children living with two biological parents are less likely to repeat a grade than those living with single parents or stepparents. Children living with single parents, though, are slightly more likely to repeat a grade than those living with a stepparent.[7]

Examining the National Study of Adolescent Health, Paul Amato of Pennsylvania State University reported that 30 percent of adolescents living with single parents have repeated a grade, compared to 19 percent of adolescents living with married parents.[8]

When it comes to keeping children on schedule academically, the intact family proves to be the most effective family structure.

Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist
Former Vice President of Westat
Founding President of Child Trends

[1] Nicholas Zill is a research psychologist and consultant. Until his recent retirement, he was a vice president of Westat Inc. He was the founder of Child Trends and its executive director for 13 years.

[2] This chart draws on data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) in 2003. The data sample consisted of parents of 102,353 children and teens in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 68,996 of these children and teens were between six and 17 years old, the age group that was the focus of the study. The survey sample in this age range represented a population of nearly 49 million young people nationwide.

[3] Most of the parents in the “biological parent and a stepparent” category are married.

[4] “Other family configurations” also include children living with grandparent or other relatives.

[5] Nicholas Zill, “Family Change and Student Achievement: What We Have Learned, What It Means for Schools,” in Family-School Links: How Do They Affect Educational Outcomes, eds. Alan Booth and Judith F. Dunn (Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996): 139-174.

[6] Robert S. Byrd, Michael Weitzman, and Peggy Auinger, “Increased Behavior Problems Associated with Delayed School Entry and Delayed School Progress,” Pediatrics, vol. 100 (1997): 654-661.

[7] Hak-Ju Kim, “Family Resources and Children’s Academic Performance,” Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 26 (2004): 529-536.

[8] Paul R. Amato, “The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Well-Being of the Next Generation,” The Future of Children, vol. 15 (2005): 75-96.

Repeating a Grade, Religious Attendance, and Family Structure

Tags:

Download PDF

This chart is taken from a study conducted by Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.[1] for Family Research Council.[2]

Children from intact families who frequently attend worship are least likely to repeat a grade in school.

This chart depicts the percentage of children aged 6 to 17 who have repeated a grade in school, correlated with religious attendance and family structure. Only six percent of children who worship frequently and live with both biological parents or with two adoptive parents have repeated a grade. By contrast, 34 percent of children who worship less than monthly and live in single-parent or reconstituted families have repeated a grade. In between are those who live in intact families and worship less than monthly (eight percent) and those who live in non-intact families who worship at least monthly (15 percent). The data are taken from the National Survey of Children’s Health.

Other Studies

Several other studies corroborate the direction of these findings. Mavis Sanders of Johns Hopkins University and Jerald Herting of the University of Washington reported that parental involvement and church support are significant positive predictors of black male adolescents’ attitudes toward their academic capabilities and also have a positive indirect effect on their academic achievement.[3]

In a study of Asian-American students from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), Sampson Lee Blair and Zhenchao Qian of Arizona State University found a significant correlation between Catholicism and educational performance among Southeast Asians and Filipinos and also that fewer than ten percent of these Southeast Asian and Filipino students come from single-parent families.[4]

As the evidence indicates, children who are religiously active, come from intact families, and have involved parents are more likely to excel academically.

Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist
Former Vice President of Westat
Founding President of Child Trends

[1] Nicholas Zill is a research psychologist and consultant. Until his recent retirement, he was a vice president of Westat Inc. He was the founder of Child Trends and its executive director for 13 years.

[2] This chart draws on data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) in 2003. The data sample consisted of parents of 102,353 children and teens in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 68,996 of these children and teens were between six and 17 years old, the age group that was the focus of the study. The survey sample in this age range represented a population of nearly 49 million young people nationwide.

[3] Mavis G. Sanders and Jerald R. Herting, “Gender and the Effects of School, Family, and Church Support on the Academic Achievement of African-American Urban Adolescents,” Schooling Students Placed at Risk: Research, Policy, and Practice in the Education of Poor and Minority Adolescents, ed. Mavis G. Sanders (Philadelphia: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000), 141-161.

[4] Sampson Lee Blair and Zhenchao Qian, “Family and Asian Students’ Educational Performance: A Consideration of Diversity,” Journal of Family Issues, vol. 19 (1998): 355-374.

Parental Concerns about Children’s Achievement by Religious Attendance

Tags:

Download PDF

This chart is taken from a study conducted by Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.[1] for Family Research Council.[2]

Religious attendance has very little impact and, if anything, may slightly raise parental concerns about their children’s achievement.[3]

Description: According to the National Survey of Children’s Health,

children who attend religious services less than once a month have parents with the lowest parental concerns score (49.4);
children who never attend religious services have parents with a parental concerns score of 49.9;
children who attend religious services at least weekly have parents with a parental concerns score of 50.1;
children who worship one to three times a month have parents with the highest parental concerns score (50.2).

It is worth noting that “concern” is often a good indicator of parental attentiveness, especially in a hostile environment. Thus the scores above make sense and are in line with other less “contra-factual” data in this series.

Related Insights from Other Studies

Several other studies, however, demonstrate that parents with children involved in religious activities, at least within minority communities, generally need not be anxious about their children’s achievement.

Leslie Gutman and Vonnie McLoyd of the University of Michigan found that high-achieving black students participated in more religious activities, such as choir and Bible study, than low-achieving black students.[4]

William Jeynes of the University of Chicago also reported that “very religious Black and Hispanic students outperformed less religious students in academic achievement.”[5]

Several previous issues of Mapping America (40, 52) showed that children who worship at least monthly are less likely to repeat a grade and less likely to be the object of a “behavior problems” call from their school to their parents than children who worship less frequently.[6]

Though children’s religious attendance seems to have little bearing on parental concerns about their children’s achievement, the evidence indicates that religiously involved students are less likely to give their parents cause for concern about their achievement in the first place.

Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist
Former Vice President of Westat
Founding President of Child Trends

[1] Nicholas Zill is a research psychologist and consultant. Until his recent retirement, he was a vice president of Westat Inc. He was the founder of Child Trends and its executive director for 13 years.

[2] This chart draws on data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) in 2003. The data sample consisted of parents of 102,353 children and teens in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 68,996 of these children and teens were between six and 17 years old, the age group that was the focus of the study. The survey sample in this age range represented a population of nearly 49 million young people nationwide.

[3] It is worth noting the contrast between this finding and the noticeable impact family structure seems to have on parental concerns about children’s achievement in Mapping America 68: Parental Concerns about Children’s Achievement by Family Structure (Washington, D.C.: Family Research Council, 2009), www.mappingamericaproject.org.

[4] Leslie Morrison Gutman and Vonnie C. McLoyd, “Parents’ Management of Their Children’s Education within the Home, at School, and in the Community: An Examination of African-American Families Living in Poverty,” The Urban Review 32 (2000): 1-24.

[5] William H. Jeynes, “The Effects of Religious Commitment on the Academic Achievement of Black and Hispanic Children,” Urban Education 34 (1999): 458-79.

[6] Mapping America 40: Repeating a Grade and Religious Attendance and Mapping America 52: Parents Contacted by School about Their Children’s Behavior Problems and Religious Attendance (Washington, D.C.: Family Research Council, 2009), www.mappingamericaproject.org.

Parental Concerns about Children’s Achievement by Family Structure

Tags:

Download PDF

This chart is taken from a study conducted by Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.[1] for Family Research Council.[2]

Children who live with both biological parents or with two adoptive parents are less likely to have parents who have concerns about their children’s achievement.

Description: According to the National Survey of Children’s Health,

children who live with both biological parents or two adoptive parents have parents who score lowest on the parental concerns scale (48.8);

children who live with a biological parent or stepparent have parents with a parental concerns score of 50.7; [3]

children who live with single mothers have parents with a parental concerns score of 51.8;

children who live within other family configurations, such as with their father only or with foster parents, have parents with highest parental concerns score (52.5).[4]

Related Insights from Other Studies

Several other studies in related areas corroborate the direction of these findings. Wendy Grolnick of Clark University and colleagues reported that mothers in single parent-families were less involved in their children’s education than mothers from two-parent families. This finding held true in all three measurements used: individual interactions between mother and child, warmth and stress level of the contextual familial environment, and interactions between mother and teacher.[5]

Gwynne Kohl of the University of Washington and colleagues also found that single-parent status was negatively related to parental involvement in school, “the quality of the parent-teacher relationship, and the teacher’s perception of the parent’s value of education.”[6]

In a study of British households, John Ermisch and Marco Francesconi of the University of Essex found that an intact family structure in the first five years of a child’s life is positively related to the child’s future educational achievement.[7]

Steven Garasky of Iowa State University also reported that children who “grow up with both biological parents have the highest likelihood of graduating from high school” and that “spending the majority of time between birth and age three in a household headed by a single father or a father and stepmother is related to a reduced likelihood of graduating from high school.”[8]

Several previous issues of Mapping America (41, 53) demonstrated that children who live with both biological parents or two adoptive parents are less likely to repeat a grade and less likely to be the object of a “behavior problems” call from their school to their parents than those who do not live with both parents.[9]

As the data show, children living with both biological parents have parents who are more involved in their children’s education and are more likely to be high scholastic achievers.

Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist
Former Vice President of Westat
Founding President of Child Trends

[1] Nicholas Zill is a research psychologist and consultant. Until his recent retirement, he was a vice president of Westat Inc. He was the founder of Child Trends and its executive director for 13 years.

[2] This chart draws on data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) in 2003. The data sample consisted of parents of 102,353 children and teens in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 68,996 of these children and teens were between six and 17 years old, the age group that was the focus of the study. The survey sample in this age range represented a population of nearly 49 million young people nationwide.

[3] Most of the parents in the “biological parent and a stepparent” category are married.

[4] “Other family configurations” also include children living with grandparent or other relatives.

[5] Wendy S. Grolnick, Corina Benjet, Carolyn O. Kurowski, and Nicholas H. Apostoleris, “Predictors of Parent Involvement in Children’s Schooling,” Journal of Educational Psychology 89 (1997): 538-48.

[6] Gwynne O. Kohl, Liliana J. Lengua, and Robert J. McMahon, “Parent Involvement in School Conceptualizing Multiple Dimensions and Their Relations with Family and Demographic Risk Factors,” Journal of School Psychology 38 (2000): 501-23.

[7] John F. Ermisch and Marco Francesconi, “Family Structure and Children’s Achievements,” Journal of Population Economics 14 (2001): 249-70.

[8] Steven Garasky, “The Effects of Family Structure on Educational Attainment: Do the Effects Vary by the Age of the Child?” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 54 (1995): 89-105.

[9] Mapping America 41: Repeating a Grade and Family Structure and Mapping America 53: Parents Contacted by School about Their Children’s Behavior Problems and Family Structure (Washington, D.C.: Family Research Council, 2009), www.mappingamericaproject.org.

Parental Concerns about Children’s Achievement by Religious Attendance and Family Structure

Tags:

Download PDF

This chart is taken from a study conducted by Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.[1] for Family Research Council.[2]

Intact families clearly have a greater positive impact in reducing parents’ concern about their children’s achievement. Religious attendance for non-intact families may even increase their level of concern. But this may be realistic on their part, for religious parents are likely to assess the environment their children grow up in to be more hostile towards the interests of children than the environment of a generation ago.

Description: According to the National Survey of Children’s Health,

children who live with both biological parents or with two adoptive parents and worship at least monthly have parents who score lowest on the parental concerns scale (48.8);
children who live with both biological parents or with two adoptive parents and worship less than monthly have parents with a parental concerns score of 48.9;
children who live in single-parent or reconstituted families and worship less than monthly have parents with a parental concerns score of 50.7;
children who live in single-parent or reconstituted families and worship at least monthly have the highest parental concerns score (51.9).
Related Insights from Other Studies

Several other studies in related areas add insights. William Jeynes of the California State University at Long Beach reported that black and Hispanic students “who were devoutly religious and also came from intact families” outperformed academically black and Hispanic students who did not fall into both of these categories.[3]

Jay Teachman of Washington State University and colleagues found that children living with divorced fathers are less likely to see their fathers “involved with their schools” than children living with both biological parents. They also reported that families who “send their children to Catholic schools are also families that connect quite closely with their children’s schools.”[4]

Several previous issues of Mapping America (42, 54) demonstrated that children who attend religious services once a month or more and live in intact families are less likely to repeat a grade and less likely to be the object of a “behavior problems” call from their school to their parents than those who worship less than monthly and live in non-intact families.[5]

As the data indicate, children who live with both biological parents and are involved in religious programs tend to have a higher degree of academic achievement while also having parents who are more involved in their education.

Nicholas Zill, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist
Former Vice President of Westat
Founding President of Child Trends

[1] Nicholas Zill is a research psychologist and consultant. Until his recent retirement, he was a vice president of Westat Inc. He was the founder of Child Trends and its executive director for 13 years.

[2] This chart draws on data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) in 2003. The data sample consisted of parents of 102,353 children and teens in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 68,996 of these children and teens were between six and 17 years old, the age group that was the focus of the study. The survey sample in this age range represented a population of nearly 49 million young people nationwide.

[3] William H. Jeynes, “The Effects of Black and Hispanic 12th Graders Living in Intact Families and Being Religious on Their Academic Achievement,” Urban Education 38 (2003): 35-57.

[4] Jay D. Teachman, Kathleen Paasch, and Karen Carver, “Social Capital and Dropping Out of School Early,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (1996): 773-83.

[5] Mapping America 42: Repeating a Grade, Religious Attendance, and Family Structure and Mapping America 54: Parents Contacted by School about Their Children’s Behavior Problems, Religious Attendance, and Family Structure (Washington, D.C.: Family Research Council, 2009), www.mappingamericaproject.org.