Families, neighborhood play role in achievement

young girl drawing in a workbook

A UIC study of academic achievement suggests that urban youth may benefit from strong families and safe neighborhoods in addition to child-centered interventions.

The study aimed to learn what factors influence how young people develop their future aspirations — and how those aspirations shape their experiences at school.

“The results of this study indicate that when youth in urban environments have supportive parents and feel safe in their neighborhoods, they are positive about their future and believe they can be successful in school,” said lead author Henrika McCoy, assistant professor of social work.

The study analyzed data collected from 489 youth in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, a multidisciplinary study of the effects of family, school and neighborhood-level factors on child and adolescent development and success.

The findings suggest that, in urban environments, neighborhood safety and supportive parental relationships help youth maintain their future aspirations, and those hopes serve as a source of motivation that allows youth to feel positive when facing academic challenges.

“The larger implications — particularly in Chicago, given the challenges experienced right now with neighborhood violence and school closings — highlight, at the practice and policy levels, the need to invest in communities, parents and youth,” McCoy said.


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