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To examine the effects of family process variables (specific things families do) and family status variables (who families are) on students' academic achievement and nonacademic outcomes, the author uses the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, a U.S. longitudinal dataset that follows a nationally representative sample of children from kindergarten through fifth grade, and the Programme for International Student Assessment, a cross-country cross-sectional dataset that assesses academic achievement of 15-year-old students. The U.S. data indicate that even after controlling for demographics and school inputs, student achievement was associated with such process variables as parental expectations and beliefs, learning structure, resource availability, home environment, parenting and disciplinary practices, and parental involvement. In addition, doing homework more frequently, having home Internet access, and owning a community library card had higher returns in terms of student achievement for black children or children from low socio-economic families than for their counterparts. U.S. students did not fare as well as their peers in other countries and economies, and family process variables, especially considered collectively, are important factors in explaining student achievement in an international setting.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Family Factors and Student Achievement: The Case of U.S.

  • Chapter Two

    Family Factors and Nonacademic Outcomes: The case of U.S.

  • Chapter Three

    Family Factors and Student Achievement: An International Comparison

  • Appendix 1A

    Variables Measuring Family Process Factors in ECLS-K

  • Appendix 1B

    Scale Items and Reliability Coefficients

  • Appendix 1C

    Descriptive Statistics: Waves 2-5

  • Appendix 1D

    Family Process Factors by Race/Ethnicity: Waves 2-5

  • Appendix 1E

    Correlations Between SES and Reading/Mathematics Test Scores

  • Appendix 1F

    Correlations Between SES and Family Process Factors: Waves 2-5

  • Appendix 1G

    SES by Family Process Factors: Waves 2-5

  • Appendix 1H

    Coefficients of Unconditional Models

  • Appendix 1I

    Coefficients of Interaction Models

  • Appendix 2A

    Scale Items and Reliability Coefficients

  • Appendix 2B

    Correlations Between SES and Teacher SRS Scale Scores

  • Appendix 2C

    Coefficients of Unconditional Models

  • Appendix 2D

    Education Production Function and Econometric Estimation Strategies

  • Appendix 2E

    Specification Tests

  • Appendix 2F

    OLS Coefficients of Baseline and Family Process Models

  • Appendix 2G

    Tobit Coefficients of Baseline and Family Process Models

  • Appendix 2H

    Tobit Coefficients of Interaction Models

  • Appendix 3A

    PISA 2006 Countries and Economies

  • Appendix 3B

    Variables Measuring Family Process Factors in PISA 2006

  • Appendix 3C

    Achievement Test Scores by Country

  • Appendix 3D

    Coefficients of Unconditional Models

  • Appendix 3E

    Coefficients of Interaction Models

This document was submitted as a dissertation in December 2009 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Richard Buddin (Chair), Sheila Nataraj Kirby, and Vi-Nhuan Le.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. PRGS dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a PRGS faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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