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FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY

COLLEGE OF HUMAN SCIENCES

THE USEFULNESS OF SOCIAL CAPITAL THEORY TO UNDERSTAND

ACADEMIC IMPROVEMENT IN YOUNG CHILDREN: THE IMPACT OF FAMILY

STRUCTURE

BY:

MICHAEL SHRINER

A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Family and Child Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Awarded:

Fall Semester, 2008

UM! Number: 3348544

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The members of the Committee approve the Dissertation of Michael Shriner defended on August 26 th , 2008.

Received by:

Ronald L. Mullis Professor Directing Dissertation

Patrice latarola Outside Committee Member

Thomas A. Cornille Committee Member

B. Kay Pasley, Chair, Department of Family and Child Sciences

Billie Collier, Dean, College of Human Sciences

The office of Graduate Studies has verified and approved the above named committee members.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  • I would like to acknowledge the members of my dissertation committee—

Drs. Ronald L. Mullis, Thomas A. Cornille, and Patrice latarola. Your contributions to this project were greatly appreciated. I couldn't have asked for a more responsive, understanding, and helpful major professor than you, Dr. Mullis, and for that I thank you. In addition, I would like to thank Dr. Ann Mullis. You have been an extremely supportive presence in my life.

  • I will never be able to thank Bethanne enough. You are a gift. I love you. Finally, I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation to the people who

had an overwhelming personal impact on me during my time in Tallahassee either through their entrance, exit, or ever-present existence in my life—Adrian, Afroman, Amy, Dad, Eileen, Heineken, Heidi, K.C., Karen, Jim, Jes, Joe, Maxine, Michelle, Missy, Mom, Nana, Pat, R. J. Reynolds, Scott, Tara, and Wayne.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Figures

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List of Tables .......................................................................................................viii

 

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  • 1 INTRODUCTION............................................................................................1 Background of the Problem .........................................................................3 Purpose of the Study.....................................................................................5 Research Questions ...................................................................................5 Definitions of Terms .....................................................................................5 Abbreviations .............................................................................................6 Delimitations ...............................................................................................7

  • 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.................................................................................8 Family Social Capital.....................................................................................8 Young Children's Academic Achievement in a Family/Social Context.......11 Family Structure and Academic Achievement Single-Parent Families................................................................................16 Children Reared in Stepfamilies.................................................................19

  • 3 METHODS...................................................................................................25 Conceptual Framework.............................................................................25 Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Kindergarten Cohort........................27 Direct Cognitive Assessment Measures......................................................29 Reading Assessment.................................................................................30

Mathematics Assessment..........................................................................30 Reliabilities for Mathematics and Reading Assessment Scores.................30 Validity for Direct Cognitive Assessment in Mathematics and Reading ....31 Participant Characteristics of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort-Analytical Sample................................32 Analytical Sample: Family Structure Variable.............................................33 Participant Demographics...........................................................................33

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Descriptives................................................................................................35

Math Change Score and Indicator Variables-Social Capital..............35

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Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables-Social Capital..........35 Math Change Score and Indicator Variables-Resource Capital..........35 Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables-Resource Capital....36 Sample Weights.........................................................................................36 Missing Data..............................................................................................36 Data Analysis Plan.....................................................................................37 4. RESULTS.......................................................................................................38 Parent Social and Resource Capital and Children's Reading Change

Scores................................................................................................38

Parent Social Capital...................................................................................38 Parent Resource Capital.............................................................................39 Parent Education.......................................................................................39 Socioeconomic Status...............................................................................40

Gender.......................................................................................................40

Race...........................................................................................................40

Family Structure, Parent Social and Resource Capital and Children's Reading Change Scores.........................................................................41 Parent Social and Resource Capital and Reading Change Scores:

Children in Stepfamilies .....................................................................41 Parent Social Capital..................................................................................41 Parent Resource Capital.............................................................................42 Socioeconomic Status...............................................................................42

Race...........................................................................................................42

5. DISCUSSION..................................................................................................43

Parent Social and Resource Capital ..........................................................43 Family Structure, Parent Social and Resource Capital, and Children's Reading and Math Change Scores.........................................................48 Parent Social and Resource Capital and Reading Change Scores:

Children in Stepfamilies ......................................................................48

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Implications................................................................................................51

Limitations..................................................................................................52

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Future Research........................................................................................53

CONCLUSION...................................................................................................54

Appendix A

Figures................................................................................................56

Appendix B

Tables.................................................................................................59

Appendix C

IRB Approval Letter.............................................................................73

References.................................................................................................75

Biographical Sketch...................................................................................85

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1: Social and Resource Capital as Predictors of Academic

Improvement...................................................................................57

Figure 2: Social Capital, Resource Capital, and Family Structure as Predictors of Academic Improvement..............................................58

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1: Correlation Matrix amongst Social and Resource Capital Predictor Variables ..................................................................................................60

Table 2: Step-by-Step Process Leading to the Resultant Analytical Sample.......61

Table 3: Analytical Sample: Family Structure Variable..........................................62

Table 4: Demographic Characteristics for Children with Change Scores in Math from the Spring of Kindergarten to the Spring of Fifth Grade....................63

Table 5: Demographic Characteristics for Children with Changes Scores in Reading from the Spring of Kindergarten to the Spring of Fifth Grade......64

Table 6: Descriptives: Math Change Score and Indicator Variables: Social

Capital........................................................................................................65

Table 7: Descriptives: Math and Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables—Social Capital using Sample Weights.......................................66

Table 8: Descriptives: Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables—Social

Capital........................................................................................................67

Table 9: Descriptives: Math Change Score and Indicator Variables—Resource

Capital........................................................................................................68

Table 10: Descriptives: Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables— Resource Capital ......................................................................................69

Table 11: Regression of Parent Indicator Variables—Social and Resource Capital —on Reading and Math Change Scores....................................................70

Table 12: Regression of Parent Indicator Variables—Social and Resource Capital —and Family Structure on Reading and Math Change Scores................71

Table 13: Regression of Parent Indicator Variables—Social and Resource Capital —on Reading Change Scores—Stepfamilies ..........................................72

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ABSTRACT This study explored the extent to which differences in social capital among family structures predicted academic improvement in young children using data from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, (ECLS) Kindergarten class of 1998-1999, which is administered by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). For all children included in the analyses, parent social and resource capital explained 13% of the variance in reading change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade and 15% of the variance in math change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade. In addition, parent social and resource capital explained 34% of children's reading change scores in stepparent family structures. In light of these findings, implications for policymakers, parents, and scholars are discussed.

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In recent years there has been a growing body of evidence that children in alternative families (i.e., reside with a single parent or a stepparent) demonstrate less academic achievement than those children residing in two-biological-parent families (Abd-El-Fattah, 2006; Bjorklund, Ginther, & Sundstrom, 2006; Cavanagh, 2006; Heard, 2007; Jeynes, 2006; Tillman, 2007). For example, researchers have concluded that stepchildren and children from single parent families are at somewhat greater risk for academic difficulties than are children from two-biological families (Coleman, Ganong & Fine, 2000; Majoribanks, 2002). Although research has demonstrated that children reared in stepfamilies and single parent families achieve less well in school than children reared in two-biological-parent families, research has also shown that children in married or cohabiting stepfamilies have academic outcomes quite similar to those in single-parent families (Biblarz & Raftery, 1999; Hofferth, 2006; Manning & Lamb, 2003; McLanahan & Sandefur, 1994).

McLanahan and Sandefur (1994) argued that the similarities in academic achievement of high school-aged children reared in single-parent and stepparent family structures were due to variations in parent involvement. The authors noted that the instability of family relationships (i.e., grandmothers and grandfathers, parents' boyfriends and girlfriends, stepmothers and stepfathers) moving in and out of the single- parent and stepparent households created uncertainty about household rules and responsibilities, which negatively impacted children's academic achievement. Manning and Lamb (2003) have supported this finding with parents of adolescents. Although similar to each other, adolescents in single mother and stepfather family structures had lower grades and vocabulary scores compared to their two-biological-parent counterparts. In these family structures, the academic outcomes were more likely related to mothers' race, education, monitoring and attachment than family structure. Other researchers (e. g., Biblarz &Raftery 1999; Hofferth, 2006) have supported these findings. Biblarz and Raftery also suggested that variations in academic achievement could be explained by demographic and economic factors. They concluded that while demographic and economic factors impacting parent involvement were similar in single-

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parent and stepparent family structures, they differed from two-biological-parent family structures. They suggested a spurious relationship between academic achievement and family structure as a result of parental investment (i.e. stepparents lack interest and single-parents lack time; children in these family structures evidence less academic achievement). Therefore, the negative consequences of living within a single-parent or stepparent family structure for an older child's academic outcomes are typically explained through either structural characteristics or family process characteristics (Matjasko, Grunden, & Ernst, 2007; Park, 2007).

Matjasko, Grunden, and Ernst (2007) defined structural characteristics as various socioeconomic qualities measured by such indicators as a parent's educational background, employment status, and use of public assistance. Accordingly, children residing in alternative family forms have families with less family income and parental education and are more likely to be living in poverty (Amato, 1993; McLanahan & Sandefur, 1994; Pong, 1997; Pong & Ju, 2000; Thomson, Hanson, & McLanahan, 1994). So, children in these circumstances are subject to deprivations in economic, parental, and community resources, which ultimately undermine their chances of future academic success and achievement.

A number of authors have documented that biological parents are more likely to invest their time, energy, money, and resources on their children than their single parent and stepparent counterparts (Cooksey & Fondell, 1996; Daly & Wilson, 1980; Popenoe, 1994). According to this perspective, it is family processes, (the interactions or lack thereof) within these alternative families that negatively impact academic achievement in children residing with a single-parent or stepparent (i.e. children in stepfamilies and single parent families receive less parental monitoring, interest, and interactions, which subsequently leads to lower academic achievement). Adding to the complexity of this issue, children from stepfamilies may be differentially impacted by their interaction with parents based on select variables. For example, gender of the child and socioeconomic status do not impact stepparent involvement (Hofferth & Anderson, 2003). However, age of child and race do appear to impact involvement, particularly for stepfathers. Accordingly, stepfathers spend more time with younger than older stepchildren (Dunn, Davies, O'Connor, & Sturgess, 2000) and Black stepfathers spend significantly less

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time with their stepchildren than White stepfathers (Hofferth & Anderson, 2003). A possible alternative explanation combines both the structural characteristics and family process explanations for lower academic improvement in children reared in single- parent and stepparent family structures—lower levels of social and resource capital (Smith, Beaulieu, & Seraphine, 1995).

The notion of social capital has been used in the literature to help explain differences in families based on their access to resources (Majoribanks, 2002; Mullis, Rathge, &, Mullis, 2003). Coleman (1987) viewed a family's social capital as a medium through which a child could gain access to his/her parents' financial and human capital (viewed as income and education, respectively) and not necessarily the result of a child's own attempts at developing social capital independently. In addition, Coleman (1990) stated that "the function identified by the concept 'social capital' is the value of those aspects of social structure to actors, as resources that can be used by the actors to realize their interests" (p.305). As a construct, social capital is measured by the quality and quantity of networks connecting children to the resources of their parents. Theoretically, children with high stocks of social capital are characterized as having parents who spend considerable time and effort making connections with them, the parents of their friends, the teachers and administrators of their schools, and various other individuals within their communities (Majoribanks, 2002). Therefore, under the guiding rubric of social capital theory espoused by Coleman (Coleman, 1987; 1988; 1990; 1997), in this study I explored the extent to which differences in social capital amongst family structures predict academic improvement in young children using data from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, (ECLS) Kindergarten class of 1998-1999, which is administered by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).

Background of the Problem

Because of their emphasis on the early childhood period of development, the advent of recent national policies such as President Bush's 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (http://www.ed.gov/nclb) and the Good Start, Grow Smart initiative (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/earlychildhood) underscore the need to expand empirical investigations of the academic improvement of young children. Focusing on

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young children is particularly salient given the extent to which academic achievement in early childhood can predict various long-term advantages including educational attainment at age 22 (Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2005), dropping out of high school (Alexander, Entwisle, Dauber, 2002; Finn, Gerber, & Boyd-Zaharias, 2005), and attending college (Garces, Thomas, & Currie, 2002). Further, because early childhood offers an optimal period for intervention and represents the period when gaps in academic achievement first emerge (Perez-Johnson & Maynard, 2007), the period of early childhood deserves continued research-based study.

As the first national survey designed to follow a cohort of children from kindergarten entry to middle school, the ECLS-K provides a wealth and breadth of comprehensive and reliable data that scholars can use to better understand children's development as they progress from kindergarten to the middle school grades. In addition, The ECLS-K offers researchers the opportunity to investigate a multitude of questions that are pertinent in today's society. Because of its depth of assessment, researchers are able to tackle complex interactions between young children's academic and cognitive performance and their school, community, and parental involvement (Tourangeau, Nord, Le, Pollack, & Atkins-Burnett, 2006). Other studies have explored these same interactions in older children using such nationally representative datasets as the National Educational Longitudinal Study (Pong, 1997; Teachman, Paasch, & Carver, 1996; 1997), the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (Hampden-Thompson & Pong, 2005), the International Social Science Surveys/Australia (Evans, Kelley, & Wanner, 2001), the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (Parcel & Dufur, 2001), and the High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study (Smith, Beaulieu, & Seraphine, 1995). So, based on these studies with older children, we know that variations in school, community, and parental involvement are associated with dropping out of high school (Teachman, Paasch,& Carver, 1996; 1997) attending college (Smith, Beaulieu, & Seraphine, 1995), completing college (Evans, Kelly, & Wanner, 2001), and math and reading achievement (Hampden-Thompson & Pong, 2005; Parcel & Dufur, 2001; Pong, 1997).

Social capital theory has become an increasingly popular framework for conceptualizing the consequences of interpersonal relationships, family structure, and

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community attributes on children's academic performance (Mullis, Rathge, & Mullis, 2003). For example, Dika and Singh (2002) critically reviewed 35 primary empirical articles appearing between 1986 and 2001 where social capital was used as a framework to explore various educational outcomes. As an exemplar, Israel, Beaulieu, and Hartless (2001) explored the influence of family and community on educational achievement in adolescents from a social capital framework. They found that high school students who lived in two-biological-parent family structures earned higher grades and were more likely to stay in school than their counterparts in single-parent family structures. Further, they suggested that policies be geared toward strengthening family social capital. Although their sample included adolescents, they substantiated the usefulness of social capital theory for conceptualizing and explaining why young children in stepfamilies and single-parent family structures may be less successful academically than their two-biological-parent counterparts.

Purpose of the Study

Although social capital theory has recently been applied to a variety of topics including public health (Szreter & Woolcock, 2004), food consumption (Gertler, Levine, & Moretti, 2006), and corporate organizational development (Adler & Kwon, 2002), here social capital theory was used to explain academic improvement (as measured by changes in standardized math and reading tests) in young children. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to test the usefulness of social capital theory for understanding the academic improvement of young children and to explore how variations in social and resource capital among three family structures (single-parent, two-parent-biological, and stepparent) predict academic improvement in young children over two points in time.

Research Questions

Based on a family social capital perspective, the following research questions

were addressed:

  • 1 Does social and resource capital have an impact on young children's academic improvement, controlling for parent's education and socioeconomic status?

  • 2 Does family structure matter in terms of children's academic improvement?

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Definitions of Terms

Based on previous empirical literature, the resultant definitions were used in this

study:

  • 1 Social capital: resources that an individual can utilize emanating from the

interactions and relationships between and among actors (Coleman, 1988; Leonard, 2005; Putnam, 1995).

  • 2 Resource capital: Resources (e.g., having a computer available to the child in the home) of an academically-oriented environment that is conducive to children's learning (Coleman, 1988).

Operational Definitions

Hoyle, Harris, and Judd (2002) stated that "an operational definition specifies how to measure a variable so that we can assign someone a score", further adding that "the beauty of an operational definition is that it specifies precisely how to measure a variable in such a concrete and specific manner that anyone else could repeat the steps and obtain the same measurements" (p. 76). As such, indicators of social capital included: (a) whether or not a parent contacted the school; (b) whether or not a parent attended the school's open house; (c) whether or not a parent attended a parent- teacher conference; (d) whether or not a parent acted as a school volunteer; and (e) how many parents of their child's friends they talk to regularly. Indicators of resource capital included: (a) how many times they visited the library; (b) whether or not they have a home computer that their child uses; and (c) reports of cognitive stimulation in the home (i.e., frequency of literacy activities). Each indicator of social and resource capital was measured in the spring of kindergarten and fifth grade.

Abbreviations

  • 1 ECLS-K: the abbreviation for the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Kindergarten.

  • 2 NCES: the abbreviation for the National Center for Educational Statistics, sponsor of the ECLS.

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Delimitations

The following delimitations, a function of secondary analysis on existing data, are acknowledged:

  • 1 The study will be limited to the sample recruited for the ECLS-K by the NCES during all four time periods.

  • 2 The measures that will be used in this study are contingent upon those used in the original study conducted by the NCES.

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW In this chapter social capital theory is presented as a theoretical framework for examining the academic achievement of children. In addition, the empirical link between children's academic outcomes and family/social contexts is discussed. Finally, the empirical findings regarding academic achievement of children reared in single-parent and stepparent families are summarized.

Theoretical Perspective

Family Social Capital Leonard (2005) described the existing literature on social capital as burgeoning, and the concept itself, as elusive. She summarized its current status as being "generally imbued with positive connotations, in particular the importance of social networks and trust in promoting a sense of belonging and well-being" (p. 605). Coleman (1990) viewed social, human, and financial capital as three constituent concepts. Though he attributed Loury (1987) with coining the term, Coleman argued that social capital was "defined by its function" and that "social capital is productive, making possible the achievement of certain ends that would not be attainable in its absence" (p. 302). Recently, Widmer (2006) offered a definition of social capital as "the resources stemming from the possession of a durable network of acquaintance or recognition" (p.981). However, it was Coleman who put social capital within a family context.

Coleman (1988) argued that a family's background was analytically separable, comprised by financial capital, human capital, and social capital. He argued that financial and human capital could be adequately measured by certain indicators such as the family's income and the parents' education, respectively. Meanwhile, family social capital, being much less tangible, could be measured by an assortment of indicators such as the ratio of adults to children, the number of siblings, the mother's expectation of the child's going to college, the interests or even intrusiveness of one adult in the activities of someone else's child, and the frequency of talking with parents about personal experiences. For Coleman (1987), these types of indicators served as an attempt to articulate, approximate, and measure the culmination of norms, values, and expectations embedded within a child's social networks that are associated with his or

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her growth, maturation, and overall well-being. However, as Morrow (1999) pointed out, and Leonard (2005) agreed, current applications of social capital ignore a child's immediate, peer-dominated, social networks consisting of his or her own personal collection of friends and work-related or community-related acquaintances. Leonard further argued that as it was currently conceptualized, social capital was something that a child drew on in the future and not something of immediate benefit. Parenthetically, Coleman (1987) viewed a family's social capital as a medium through which a child could gain access to his/her parents' financial and human capital and not necessarily the result of a child's own attempts at developing social capital independently. Subsequently, Coleman (1988) identified four properties of social relations and organizations—and specific to families—that facilitated increases in social capital: (1) intergenerational closure; (2) stability; (3) dependence; and (4) shared ideology.

For Coleman (1988), intergenerational closure is marked by individuals "who see each other daily, have expectations toward each other, and develop norms about each other's behavior" (p.106). As a consequence, when families share a sense of intergenerational closure, the result is an environment where one's behavior has effective sanctions which serve to guide and monitor individual behavior. As a result, children in well established inter-generationally closed families develop a strong sense of trust, obligation, and expectations for themselves and other family members and thus, act accordingly. For example, Pong (1998) described intergenerational closure as a system of interconnected adults outside the immediate family who supported, maintained, and conveyed various social norms that were significantly related to children's academic development and achievement.

Stability within a social structure also serves as a means to develop sanctioned group norms. However, "disruptions of social organization or of social relations can be highly destructive to social capital" and "individual mobility constitutes a potential action that will be destructive of the structure itself—and thus of the social capital dependent on it" (Coleman, 1990, p. 320). Thus, as a family maintains stability, the more developed the group norms, expectations, and obligations, and thus, the higher the level of social capital. However, Coleman is also quick to point out that by their very nature, relationships must be cultivated through continued and consistent communication

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between its members if they are to be maintained over time. Therefore, families must nurture their stability and subsequently, their social capital, to not only flourish, but simply maintain. For example, parents who continuously communicate amongst themselves and with others in the community in an effort to overcome a child's academic difficulties foster the social capital that may be integral to resolving any encountered problematic situation. However, sometimes families—in their ultimately self-defeating quest to maintain stability—organize around a child's academic difficulties. By doing so, they effectively cut-off their supply of social capital by not communicating with others outside their fragile family boundaries and are thus rendered isolated and in a perpetual state of crisis (Cornille & Boroto, 1992; Cornille, Boroto, Barnes, & Hall, 1996).

According to Coleman (1990), dependence on one another within a family assumes that "the more extensively persons call on one another for aid, the greater will be the quantity of social capital generated" (p.321). As family members develop a shared sense of belonging and reliance on one another, their individual social capital increases as a by-product of the established reciprocity of obligation. For example, family members who share an inherent, valued, and mutually understood commitment to each other are more likely to benefit from the social connections of their members (greater social capital) which lead to greater financial gains than those family members who lack a norm of reciprocity (Sanders & Nee, 1996).

Shared ideology "can create social capital by imposing on an individual who holds it the demand that he act in the interests of something or someone other than himself" (Coleman, 1990, p. 320). Under these circumstances, members of a family who develop a common vision, sense of purpose, and implicit direction foster elevated levels of social capital. However, because the degree to which intergenerational closure, stability, dependence, and shared ideology varies amongst families, it is no surprise that levels of social capital differ between families.

Coleman and Hoffer (1987) distinguished disadvantaged families from deficient families—both of which appeared to be increasing in frequency. Disadvantaged families are those families that come from ethnic or language minority backgrounds, include parents who have limited educational backgrounds, and have few monetary resources.

Deficient families include those families consisting of either one parent or two parents who are more involved with work activities than family activities. This is particularly salient given Portes' (1998) assertion that lowered social capital in single-parent families is primarily a function of the single parent's (and his or her child's) residential mobility and lack of in-home support via an additional parent. For Portes, the lack of another parent in the home and frequent relocations leads to inconsistent and weak ties to the community-at-large which are associated with lowered educational performance. However, before examining the educational outcomes of children reared in single- parent families, and later stepfamilies, young children's academic achievement in a family/social context are discussed.

Young Children's Academic Achievement in a Family/Social Context

Hernandez, Denton, and Macartney (2007) argued that most children live in families with two parents, and perhaps even extended family members, who offer nurturance, support, and economic resources to children. However, they also commented that during preschool and the early elementary school years, family income is particularly salient with regard to its impact on a child's cognitive functioning and school achievement. Consequently, the damaging effect of a family's low socioeconomic status on young children's academic achievement and cognitive functioning has been demonstrated repeatedly (Artis, 2007; Boardman, Powers, Padilla, & Hummer, 2002; Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; McLoyd, 1998). However, other factors including parenting style (Duncan & Magnuson, 2005; Hirsh-Pasek & Burchinal, 2006; Merlo, Bowman, & Barnett, 2007), parent involvement (Alomar, 2006; Lee & Bowen, 2006; Marchant, Paulson, & Rothlisberg, 2001), and the amount of a child's cognitive stimulation in his or her home environment (Boardman, Powers, Padilla, & Hummer, 2002; Burchinal, Peisner-Feinberg, Pianta, & Howes, 2002; Downer & Pianta, 2006; Guo & Harris, 2000; Melhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford, & Taggart, 2008) are important factors in a child's academic achievement. In addition, parents' education (and particularly, mother's education) has proven to be a robust predictor of young children's academic achievement (Burchinal, Peisner-Feinberg, Pianta, & Howes, 2002; Downer & Pianta, 2006; Melhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford, & Taggart, 2008). These various other factors often undermine the role

poverty plays in its relation to a child's academic development and achievement. In fact, Guo and Harris (2000), using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth involving approximately 2,000 children with a mean age of 71 months, found that the association between poverty and cognitive functioning is completely mediated by such family context variables as parenting style, cognitive stimulation in the home, and the physical environment of the home. Specifically, through structural equation modeling, the authors concluded that poverty itself offers no direct effect on a child's intellectual development (measured by standardized reading and math achievement tests). However, increases in poverty adversely affected cognitive stimulation (how often the mother reads to a child, the number of books a child has, whether or not a child has a record/tape player, how often a child is taken to a museum, and the number of magazines a family receives), parenting style (how often a mother converses with her child, whether a mother answered her child's questions verbally, whether the mother's voice showed positive feelings toward her child, and whether the mother hugged and kissed her child), and the physical environment of the home (i.e., how clean the home is, how cluttered the home is, how safe the home is, and how bright and stimulating the home is) which negatively impacted intellectual development.

Boardman, Powers, Padilla, and Hummer (2002), using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-Child Data (1986-1996) involving children ages 6 to 14, examined the association between various familial social factors—mother's marital status, poverty, mother's education, and the child's home environment—and children's academic achievement (as measured by standardized reading and math achievement tests). The authors revealed that children whose mothers did not complete high school scored significantly lower on measures of math and reading than their counterparts whose mother's did complete high school. In addition, children with higher levels of cognitive stimulation present in their home environments such as whether or not a mother spoke to her child, responded verbally to her child, hugged or kissed her child, provided toys for her child, how many book's a child had, how often the mother read to her child, and how often the child's parents taught their child new skills scored significantly higher on measures of math and reading than those children with lower levels of cognitive stimulation in the home. In a related study, Hirsh-Pasek and

Burchinal (2006), using longitudinal data from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development examined the association between mothers' sensitivity to their children and their children's academic outcomes. The authors revealed that when children in first grade experienced more sensitive caregiving as indicated by the number and quality of interactions purported to enhance perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, and physical development from their mothers over time (between the ages of 6 and 54 months), they scored significantly higher on tests of academic achievement. In particular, when children received increasingly more developmentally appropriate, responsive, and stimulating caregiving from their mother between the ages of 6 to 54 months, their academic achievement was significantly higher than those children who did not receive progressively more developmentally appropriate, responsive, and stimulating caregiving. Similarly, Merlo, Bowman, and Barnett (2007) studied only children from families with lower socioeconomic status who were transitioning from preschool to elementary school. They revealed, after controlling for such variables as prior reading ability, phonological awareness, verbal reasoning ability, and home academic stimulation, a child's growth in reading achievement could be accounted for by the unique contribution of parental nurturance (measured by self- report and behavioral ratings regarding warmth, hostility, and to what extent the parent is verbally and affectively positive).

Downer and Pianta (2006) examined the early family experiences of 832 children enrolled in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development from birth to 54 months as predictors of academic achievement in first grade. Using the HOME Inventory (Caldwell & Bradley, 1984; a measure of the stimulation and support available to a child in the home), the authors reported that children scored higher on standardized measures of reading and math when their mother was more educated and when they experienced a rich home learning environment growing up. These findings were consistent with Burchinal, Peisner,-Geinberg, Pianta, and Howes (2002) who also reported that children's scores on standardized tests of math and reading were positively associated with mothers' education and positive parenting practices (as measured by the HOME inventory) using 511 elementary (between 1 st and 3 rd grade) children. Additionally, Mulhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford and Taggart

(2008) reported robust and powerful effects of children's home learning environment on reading and math achievement over time. Using data involving 2,354 children followed longitudinally from age 3 to 7, the authors found that over time, children who were classified as underachieving at age 7(defined as scores 1 standard deviation below the mean) had a higher likelihood of living in unsupportive home learning environment (as indicated by children who were not frequently engaged in such activities as being frequently read to, going to the library, playing with numbers, and being taught letters and numbers in the home) at age three.

Duncan and Magnuson (2005) summarized the extent to which familial environments impact children's academic achievement. Acknowledging the racial gaps in both socioeconomic status and achievement scores in reading and math evidenced in the data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, the authors commented on the importance of parental human capital (defined as family income) and its implications for children by concluding that its key advantage was in its ability to offer the opportunities for a stimulating learning environment. Specifically, the authors commented that not only did parents' education indirectly benefit children via a higher family income, it impacted children's well-being via improved parenting skills as well. Relatedly, parent involvement—a salient component of any stimulating home environment—has been consistently linked to children's academic achievement (Alomar, 2006; Lee & Bowen, 2006; Marchant, Paulson, & Rothlisberg, 2001; Mulhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj- Blatchford, & Taggart, 2008).

Marchant, Paulson, and Rothlisberg (2001) using multiple regression on data involving 230 fifth- and sixth-grade students, reported that parenting style (as defined by their level of demandingness, responsiveness, and imposed values), parental involvement (as defined by their participation in activities as the child's school), teaching style, and school atmosphere as an aggregate score predicted 13% of the explained variance in students' grades. However, the authors further added that none of these individual factors predicted any unique variance in the students' grades. Similarly, Alomar (2006) used structural equation modeling on data from 751 eighth grade students to examine the impact of personal and family factors on academic achievement (as measured by an aggregate score of standardized math, science,

English, social science, language, and religion tests). The author found that parent involvement (and indirectly, parent education) contributed a strong (.47) effect on student's achievement.

McIntyre, Eckert, Fiese, DiGennaro, and Wildenger (2007) examined the relationship between children's family experiences and their transition to kindergarten. Families from a lower socioeconomic status (as indicated by receiving government financial aid) were less likely to attend annual meetings at their child's preschool, have monthly communication with their child's preschool, or visit a kindergarten classroom than their higher socioeconomic status counterparts. Lacking what Coleman (1988) referred to as intergenerational closure, The authors concluded that families with fewer financial resources also found it more difficult to devote the time necessary to facilitate the vital relationships between themselves and their child's preschool and kindergarten teachers—a situation that would likely lead to exacerbated risk for school problems later in their children's academic careers. Finally, Lee and Bowen (2006) examined the predictive impact of parent involvement on children's academic achievement using data from 415 children in third through fifth grade. Using hierarchical regression analyses, the authors found that parent involvement in the school (the frequency in which parents attended parent-teacher conferences, volunteered at the school, and went to school for

fun events) contributed a unique 9% of the explained variance in academic achievement (teacher-reported grades in math and reading and teacher reports of whether the student was below, at, or above grade level in reading and math).

Although the damaging impact of poverty on academic achievement in young children is well documented (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; McLoyd, 1998) several contextual factors appear to undermine its overall effect on the academic achievement of children. Specifically, parenting style (Duncan & Magnuson, 2005; Hirsh-Pasek & Burchinal, 2006; Merlo, Bowman, & Barnett, 2007) and cognitive stimulation in the home (Boardman, Powers, Padilla, & Hummer, 2002; Burchinal, Peisner-Feinberg, Pianta, & Howes, 2002; Downer & Pianta, 2006; Guo & Harris, 2000; Melhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford, & Taggart, 2008) have been shown to be powerful and robust predictors of academic achievement. In fact, a combination of parenting style, cognitive stimulation in the home, and the physical environment of the home has

been shown to entirely mediate the impact of poverty on young children's academic achievement (Guo & Harris, 2000). In addition, parent involvement (and particularly, parent involvement in their child's school) significantly contribute to a child's academic achievement (Alomar, 2006; Lee & Bowen, 2006; Marchant, Paulson, & Rothlisberg, 2001; Mulhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford, & Taggart, 2008). However, for children who come from single-parent families, these factors are particularly salient in terms of their impact on academic achievement.

Family Structure and Academic Achievement Single-Parent Families

Kreider and Fields (2005) reported that 59% of all children in non-two biological parent families lived with single mothers. Consequently, this is particularly alarming given the findings by Carlson and Corcoran (2001) who, after controlling for mothers' age at first birth, education, and aptitude, found that children who lived in a continuously single-parent family had significantly lower cognitive test scores than their counterparts in either continuous two-parent families, single-parent to two-parent families, two-parent to single-parent families and those children who experienced multiple family structure transitions. However, the authors also commented that any time spent in a single-parent home placed a child at higher risk for poor behavioral and cognitive outcomes, but that these risks could be minimized if parents provided greater emotional support and cognitive stimulation toward their children.

Pong (1998) suggested two possible explanations for the detrimental impact of single parenthood on children's academic achievement: (1) lack of economic resources; and (2) lack of social capital. Reviewing the economic resources explanation, the author concluded that income differences between children reared in single-parent versus two- parent families account for as much as half of the disparity in educational achievement, tests scores, grades, college enrollment and college graduation. However, the author commented that studies often control for economic resources (namely, SES) and differences still exist. Because of this, she supported the separate, albeit related explanation, lack of social capital in single-parent families. Favoring the social capital explanation, she concluded that efforts to improve the academic achievement in children reared in single-parent families would best be served by facilitating

communication between single-parents and other parents of children in the same school. She offered that by doing so, parents benefit via increases in social capital stemming from the on-ongoing dialogue regarding school policies and personnel, their children and their children's peers, and various strategies that would likely enhance their own parenting practices. She concluded that for single-parent families, improving social capital was critical to the education of their children. Although conceptualized as social capital, but measured differently, other scholars support the notion that social capital (or more appropriately, the lack thereof) plays a vital role in the lowered academic achievement of children reared in single-parent families (Downey, 1994; Lee, 1993).

Downey (1994) examined differences in school performance using data from the National Longitudinal Study involving eight graders from 409 single-father families, 3,483 single-mother families, and 14,269 two biological-parent families. Using ordinary least squares regression, the author found that although children from single-mother and single-father families scored significantly less than their counterparts in two- biological parent families on tests of standardized math, reading, history, and science, and reported grades, they also differed on the extent to which interpersonal parental resources impacted their child's reported grades. Accordingly, variations in interpersonal parental resources (as measured by such indicators as their involvement in their child's school's PTA activities, how many of their child's friends they know by name, how many of these friends' parents they know by name, and whether they attend school meetings) accounted for more of the disparity in reported grades of children from single-father families than single-mother families. Similarly, Lee (1993) using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study examined the extent to which social capital (as measured by the number of parents of their child's friends they knew and the extent to which children discussed school matter with their parents) explained the statistically significant discrepancies in grades, student misbehavior, and standardized tests between single-parent and two-biological-parent families. However, unlike Downey who offered no suggestions to overcome discrepancies, Lee concluded that efforts to improve the educational involvement of single-parents with their children (via more effective communication networks amongst parents of school-going children and increased discussion of school-related activities between single parents and their

children) would likely lead to a decrease in the discrepancies between children in single- parent and children in two-parent-biological families on measures of standardized tests, student misbehavior, and reported grades.

Astone and McLanahan (1991) using data from the High School and Beyond study involving 10,390 children from either two biological parent families (68.3%), single-parent families (17.9%) stepparent families (10%) and other families (3.8%), found that parenting practices (including measures of the extent to which parents engage in day-to-day supervision of school work, overall parental supervision, and the amount of time they spend talking to their child ) impacted the child's grades, school attendance, and likelihood of dropping out more in single-parent families than two- biological parent families after controlling for gender, academic ability, race, and socioeconomic status.

Tillman (2007) used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health study involving 13,988 adolescents, and found that in terms of grade point average, children reared in single-parent families scored lower than their child counterparts reared in two-original parent, married mother-stepfather, and married father-stepmother families. Although children reared in single-parent families reported higher grade point averages than their counterparts in cohabiting stepfamily environments, the author suggested that the combination of experiencing the divorce/separation of their parents coupled with the later transitioning into a stepfamily (through cohabitation) may have accounted for the higher reported grade point averages for children in single-parent families than children in cohabiting stepfamilies. In addition, she suggested that the effects of family formations on academic outcomes be approached from a longitudinal perspective. Heard (2007) also used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health study and reported that in terms of cognitive ability (measured by the Health Picture Vocabulary Test, an abridged version of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test), adolescents in 7 th through 12 th grade who were reared in single-mother families scored lower than their child counterparts reared in two- original parent, married mother-stepfather, and married father-stepmother families. Calling for future research investigating parental investment, family resources, the quality of parent-child relationships, the time parents spend with children, and the

educational resources provided by parents, the author commented that her findings reinforced the empirical argument that residing with two biological parents facilitates the educational socialization, appropriate behavior, and study habits of adolescents.

Given the magnitude in which children reside in single-parent families at any given time (Kreider & Fields, 2005) and the extent that any time spent in these families is deleterious for children's behavioral and academic outcomes (Carlson & Corcoran, 2001) the onus on scholars is to examine and articulate the various contributive factors that affect the academic achievement of a child reared in this family structure. Some scholars have suggested that future research focus on social capital theory and the way in which it helps to explain and predict lowered academic achievement of children in these families (Astone & McLanahan, 1991; Downey, 1994; Lee, 1993; Pong, 1998). Although Heard (2007) and Tillman (2007) both found that children from single-parent families scored lower on measures of academic achievement than their counterparts in married stepfamilies, both populations remain at a disadvantage compared to their two- biological parent counterparts. As such, even though there is another parent—albeit stepparent—in the home for children in stepfamilies, their academic achievement is still lower than those children residing in two-biological-parent family structures.

Children Reared in Stepfamilies

An assortment of nationally representative datasets has been used within the stepfamily literature to explore the academic achievement of older stepchildren. For example, scholars have used data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey (Jeynes, 1998; 1999; 2000a; 2000b; 2002), the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (Carlson & Corcoran, 2001; Ginther & Pollak, 2004), the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (Ram & Hou, 2003), the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Heard, 2007; Tillman, 2007) and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Kindergarten Cohort (Artis, 2007). The findings from these datasets offer a unique opportunity to generalize to a much larger population because the data are comprehensive and representative of the diversity of the population (Nelson & Allred,

2005).

Jeynes (1998) offered several findings derived from separate analyses of data involving a total of 18,726 adolescents (10 th -12 th graders) from the National Education

Longitudinal Survey. Examining the extent to which divorce or remarriage had a greater impact on academic achievement, he revealed that children residing in stepfamilies scored significantly lower on standardized tests of math, reading, science, and social studies and were more likely to have repeated a grade than their counterparts in divorced (but not remarried) households, even after controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and gender.

Jeynes (1999) revealed that after controlling for race, socioeconomic status, and gender, children in stepfamilies scored somewhat lower than children of divorce from single-parent families and significantly lower than children from intact biological families on standardized tests related to reading, math, social studies, and science. Subsequently, Jeynes (2000a), comparing data from 2,395 stepchildren from reconstituted families as a result of divorce and 47 stepchildren from reconstituted families as a result of parental death, examined the impact of family structure on measures of academic performance. He found that even after controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and gender, coming from a stepfamily as a result of divorce significantly reduced children's achievement on standardized tests related to reading, math, social studies, and science, lowered overall GPA, and increased the likelihood of being held back a grade. In addition, Jeynes (2000b) compared the academic achievement of children from remarried stepfamilies to children from divorced single- parent households. His results revealed that after controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and gender, children from stepfamilies scored lower than their divorced single- parent household counterparts on standardized tests related to math and social studies.

The extent to which parental involvement of stepfamilies impacted academic achievement was examined by Jeynes (2002). Jeynes reported that although parental involvement (particularly students discussing school events with their stepparents) positively influenced academic success, it did not compensate for the impact of residing in stepfamily households. After controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and gender, living in a stepfamily household was negatively related to standardized scores related to math, reading, science, and social studies.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Children and Youth, Carlson and Corcoran (2001) explored the impact of family structure on behavioral and

academic outcomes. The authors found that stepchildren's (between the ages of 7 and 10) standardized reading and math scores were lower than their counterparts in two- parent biological families. However, the test score differences became smaller and insignificant after controlling for their mothers' age at first birth, education, and scholastic aptitude. Ginther and Pollak (2004) used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth involving over 10,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 to examine the effects of family structure on children's educational and cognitive outcomes. The authors found that living in either a single parent or stepfamily negatively affected school outcomes, especially reading and math, as evidenced by these children scoring lower than children from two-biological-parent households. However, these results were rendered insignificant after controlling for the number of siblings, birth order, family income, religion, and parental schooling (defined as whether the child's mother and father graduated high school or not and whether he or she had attended some college).

Ram and Hou (2003) using data from three waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth compared the effect of changes in family structure on various child outcomes. They revealed that children (who were between the ages of 4 and 7 at first wave) who had transitioned from a single-parent to a stepparent family scored statistically lower on tests of standardized math than those students who either remained in a two-biological parent family or remained in a single-parent family. In addition, children who transitioned from a two-parent family to a single-parent family scored statistically lower on tests of standardized reading than their counterparts who had always resided in a single-parent family. In terms of the findings related to reading involving children transitioning to single-parent families, the authors speculated that these results may be related to the newly divorced parent's inability to provide her child with school materials, computers, and high-quality day care because of her significant loss in income. In terms of the findings related to math involving children transitioning from single-parent to stepparent families, the authors suggested that although they offered economic benefits (with the addition of income), perhaps stepparents did not grant as much access to material resources such as school materials or computers to their stepchildren as they do their biological children.

Heard (2007) used data from Wavesl and 2 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine the relationship between family structure and academic behavior. Based on results from ordinary least squares regression and logistic regression, she revealed that each year an adolescent lived with a cohabiting mother- stepfather decreased their overall GPA even after controlling for unstable family histories. Each year adolescents lived in a cohabiting mother-stepfather household increased their odds of being suspended or expelled from school 12%, their odds of receiving school discipline by 52%, and reduced their likelihood of having high expectations for attending college by 7%.

Tillman (2007) also used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine family structure and its effects on a child's grades, school-related behavior, and expectations towards college. She revealed that children from married stepfather families were more likely to have lower expectations toward college than their cohabiting stepfather, single-father, cohabiting stepmother, and two-biological parent counterparts. Children from either a married or cohabiting stepparent family evidenced more school-related behavior problems than their consistently-married biological parent counterparts.

In the only study involving young children, Artis (2007), using a subsample of data involving 10,511 kindergarten children (593 from married stepfamilies and 379 from cohabiting stepfamilies) from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study— Kindergarten Cohort examined the relationship between maternal cohabitation and child well-being. Based on results from ANOVA, she revealed that children in cohabiting stepfamilies scored significantly lower on measures of math, reading, and general knowledge than their married stepfamily counterparts. However, children in both cohabiting and married stepfamilies scored significantly lower on measures of math, reading, and general knowledge than their counterparts in two-biological parent families. After controlling for economic resources (as measured by education and income), relationship stability (how long parents were together and how many times the family had moved), and parenting practices (as measured by their involvement with the school and how frequently they were involved with the school) only standardized reading

scores of children in cohabiting stepfamilies remained significantly lower than their counterparts in two-biological-parent families.

Finally, Jeynes (2006) conducted a meta-analysis involving a total of 61 studies published between 1963 and 2003 (over 80% of the participants in the primary studies were between the ages of 13 and 18) to determine the overall impact of parental divorce and remarriage on academic achievement and psychological well-being of children. Based on his analysis of studies with sophisticated statistical controls for socioeconomic status, race, and gender of its participants, he revealed that the overall effect size of children from remarried families on standardized tests of academic achievement were . 12 standard deviations lower than their counterparts from divorced single-parent families.

Collectively, scholars have documented the lowered academic achievement of children reared in stepfamilies compared to their counterparts in two-biological parent family structures (Artis, 2007; Carlson & Corcoran, 2001; Ginther & Pollak, 2004; Jeynes, 1999; Ram & Hou, 2003; Tillman, 2007) and single-parent families (Jeynes, 1998; 1999; 2000b; 2006). Parent involvement does not compensate for the lowered scores of children reared in stepfamilies on standardized measures of math, reading, science, and social studies when compared to their counterparts in two-biological- parent families (Jeynes, 2002). In addition, the amount of time spent in a stepfamily residence is associated with decreases in GPA and increases in the odds of school- related behavioral problems (Heard, 2007; Tillman, 2007) when compared to both single-parent and two-biological-parent families. Given these findings, the academic outlook for children reared in stepfamilies (and single-parent families) is bleak.

One possible reason for the lower academic achievement of children reared in stepfamilies and single-parent families may be a relative lack in social capital. In fact, several scholars have suggested further examination into the role social capital plays in relation to the academic achievement of children reared in these family structures (Artis, 2007; Astone & McLanahan, 1991; Downey, 1994; Lee, 1993; Pong, 1998).

In terms of adolescents, Abd-El-Fattah (2006) and Cavanagh, Schiller, and Riegle-Crumb (2006) argue that family structure impacts students' academic achievement via parent involvement both directly with their (step) children and their

(step) children's school. However, as Cavanagh, Schiller, and Riegle-Crumb (2006) stated "because of time constraints, lack of help, new obligations, and the possible strain introduced to the parent-child relationship by divorce or the start of a parent's new romantic relationships, single parents and those who are married or are cohabiting with new partners may experience less closeness with their adolescents, and despite their best efforts, may be less involved in their adolescents' educational careers (p. 332). Although these authors suggest that the level of parent involvement experienced by adolescents is a function of the inherent constraints of single-parent and stepfamily structures, similar processes undoubtedly impact young children in these family structures as well. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to examine how variations in social and resource capital among three family types (single-parent, two-parent- biological, and stepparent) predict academic improvement in children over time.

CHAPTER 3 METHODS This chapter provides a conceptual framework for examining how social and resource capital (and subsequently family structure) impacts children's academic improvement over time. In addition, a brief overview of the National Center for Educational Statistics' purpose, methodology, and sample for the administration of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Kindergarten Cohort is provided. Finally, an overview of the statistical techniques, specific methodology, sample, and included variables for use in these secondary analyses is also discussed.

Conceptual Framework The associations between variations in social and resource capital and dropping out of high school, attending college, completing college, and math and reading achievement have been explored and subsequently established in adolescents (Evans, Kelly, & Wanner, 2001; Hampden-Thompson & Pong, 2005; Mullis, Rathge, & Mullis, 2003; Parcel & Dufur, 2001; Pong, 1997; Smith, Beaulieu, & Seraphine, 1995; Teachman, Paasch, & Carver, 1996; 1997). However, several scholars have suggested further examination into the role that social and resource capital play in relation to the academic achievement of children (Artis, 2007; Astone & McLanahan, 1991; Downey, 1994; Lee, 1993; Pong, 1998). This is particularly salient because early childhood offers an optimal period for intervention and represents the period when gaps in academic achievement first emerge (Perez-Johnson & Maynard, 2007). In addition, Abd-El-Fattah (2006) and Cavanagh, Schiller, and Riegle-Crumb (2006) argue that family structure impacts an adolescent's academic achievement via parent involvement both directly with their (step) children and their (step) children's school. Similar processes undoubtedly impact young children in these family structures as well. As a result, this study examines two research questions:

  • 1 Does social and resource capital have an impact on young children's academic improvement, controlling for parent's education and socioeconomic status?

  • 1 Does family structure matter in terms of children's academic improvement?

In an effort to answer these questions, a series of multiple regressions is used. Including multiple independent variables in a regression model allows the use of

statistical control in estimating the unique effect of each independent variable on the outcome (Meyers, Glenn, & Guarino, 2006; Tate, 1998). Further, multiple regression is particularly useful when the researcher uses predictor (or independent) variables for which there are sound theoretical reasons for expecting them to predict the outcome (Field, 2005). As such, I used a series of multiple regressions to analyze the relationship between social and resource capital (and subsequently, family structure) and children's academic improvement while controlling for parent's education and socioeconomic status. Figure 1 is a graphic representation of how multiple regressions were used to address how social and resource capital impacts young children's academic improvement controlling for parent education and socioeconomic status.

As can be seen from Figure 1, each of the independent variables (social and resource capital) overlaps the dependent variable (academic improvement). The portion of the dependent variable labeled b represents the proportion of variance in children's academic improvement uniquely explained by the independent variable, social capital. Similarly, the portion of the dependent variable labeled c represents the proportion of variance in children's academic improvement uniquely explained by the independent variable, resource capital. Finally, the portion of the dependent variable labeled a represents the proportion of the variance in children's academic improvement explained by both social and resource capital.

Given the extent to which multiple independent variables were used to predict the dependent variable, a series of bivariate correlations were ran in an effort to examine the potential multicolinearity amongst the predictor variables (see Table 1). Field (2005) suggested that the presence of multicolinearity poses a threat to the validity of any multiple regression analysis in that it limits the variance in the outcome for which the predictors account, makes it difficult to assess the individual contribution of each predictor variable, and increases the variances of regression coefficients which produces unstable predictor equations. As can be from the corresponding correlation matrix, all of the correlations between the predictor variables are well below .5, which suggests the absence of multicolinearity amongst the independent variables.

Hoyle, Harris, and Judd (2002), stated that "an operational definition specifies how to measure a variable so that we can assign someone a score", further adding that

"the beauty of an operational definition is that it specifies precisely how to measure a variable in such a concrete and specific manner that anyone else could repeat the steps and obtain the same measurements" (p. 76). As such, indicators of social capital specifically included: (a) whether or not a parent contacted the school; (b) whether or not a parent attended the school's open house; (c) whether or not a parent attended a parent-teacher conference; (d) whether or not a parent acted as a school volunteer; and (e) how many parents of their child's friends they talk to regularly. Indicators of resource capital included: (a) how many times they visited the library; (b) whether or not they have a home computer that their child uses; and (c) reports of cognitive stimulation in the home (i.e., frequency of literacy activities). Each of these indicators of social and resource capital was measured using the ECLS-K in the spring of kindergarten and fifth grade. In addition, academic improvement was measured via the change from kindergarten to fifth grade in children's IRT scaled scores on standardized reading and math tests.

To answer question 2, an additional independent variable, family structure (two- biological parents, a single-parent, a stepparent, and other) was included in the model. The addition of this variable is depicted in Figure 2. As can be seen from the figure, the portion of the dependent variable labeled d represents the proportion of the variance in children's academic improvement explained by the additional independent variable,

family structure. If significant, this would allow me to examine how the effect of social and resource capital on student improvement differs based upon family structure by running separate regressions for each family type.

Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Kindergarten Cohort

Data for this study were drawn from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 (ECLS-K). Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), this data base was designed to longitudinally assess various student, home, classroom, school, and community factors related to the cognitive and social development of children. As the first national study following a cohort of children from kindergarten entry to middle school, the ECLS-K provides a wealth and breadth of comprehensive and

reliable data that scholars can use to better understand children's development as they progress from kindergarten to the middle school grades.

The ECLS-K offers scholars the opportunity to investigate a multitude of questions that are pertinent in today's society. Because of its depth of assessment, researchers are able to tackle difficult areas of inquiry such as the diverse ways in which classrooms and schools attend to the needs of children, the impact of children's, teacher's, and administrator's backgrounds on children's academic performance, the role parent's expectations about their children's skills, behaviors, and attributes play with regard to their children's transition and success in an academic environment, and the complex interactions between children's academic and cognitive performance and their family, home environment, school, and community (Tourangeau, Nord, Le, Pollack, & Atkins-Burnett, 2006).

As both a multi-source and multi-method study, children, their families, teachers, and school administrators provide information related to children's home environment, home educational activities, school and classroom environments, classroom curriculum, teacher qualifications, and assessments of children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. As a longitudinal investigation, information has been collected in the fall and spring of kindergarten (1998-1999), the fall and spring of first grade (1999- 2000), and the spring of third grade (2002) and fifth grade (2004).

The administration of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) involves a diverse population of children who attended both full- and half-day kindergarten programs in both public and private schools. Children (and their parents, teachers, and schools) from a variety of socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds are included in the study. Data collection for the ECLS-K was conducted in the fall and spring of 1998-1999 (kindergarten), 1999-2000 (first grade), 2001-2002 (third grade) and 2003-2004 (fifth grade).

Authors have used the ECLS-K to investigate a variety of factors related to children's academic improvement including income, maternal hardship, parenting, and their school readiness (Raver, Gershoff, & Aber, 2007), levels of parent involvement (Sy, Rowley, & Schulenberg, 2007), maternal cohabitation (Artis, 2007), various socioeconomic resources (Chatterji, 2005; Denton & West, 2002; Duncan & Magnuson,

2005; West, Denton, & Germino-Hausken, 2000), and their prekindergarten program involvement (Magnuson, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2007). However, this study represents the first attempt to longitudinally examine the impact of family social and resource capital (and subsequently, family structure) using assessment data from participants in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Direct Cognitive Assessment Measures

"The direct cognitive assessments were individually administered at all six time points. The kindergarten-first grade (K-1) cognitive assessment focused on three general content areas: (1) reading; (2) mathematics; and (3) knowledge of

the social and physical world, referred to as "general knowledge." The K-1 assessment did not ask the children to write anything or to explain their reasoning; rather, children pointed to their answers or

responded orally to complete the tasks. The assessment battery was administered using small easels with the items printed on one side and administration instructions for the assessor on the other side. Assessors entered children's responses on a laptop computer.

The direct cognitive domains measured in kindergarten and first grade included reading, mathematics, and general knowledge. In third and fifth grades, the direct cognitive domains measured reading, mathematics, and science. In third and fifth grades, general knowledge was replaced with science because the curriculum at these grades is more differentiated and the amount of time available to administer the assessments was limited. The fifth-grade assessments also utilized a two-stage design. Easels were used to administer

items in reading, mathematics, and science. The students also completed workbooks with open-ended mathematics questions. The reading passages were in a booklet format to allow the student to refer back to the story when answering the questions. All questions were read by the assessor. Although the child read the response options to him/herself in the reading assessment, the assessor

read all the response options to the child in the mathematics and science assessments." (Tourangeau, et al, 2006)

Reading Assessment

The kindergarten reading assessment (containing five proficiency levels) included questions designed to measure various facets including basic skills (print familiarity, letter recognition, beginning and ending sounds, and creating rhyming works), receptive vocabulary, and comprehension (involving listening and words in context).

The fifth grade reading assessment contained items designed to measure a child's ability to make literal inferences, extrapolate, evaluate, and demonstrate his or her ability to comprehend biographical and expository text (evaluating nonfiction).

Mathematics Assessment

The kindergarten mathematics assessment contained items designed to measure skills in conceptual and procedural knowledge and problem solving. Items related to number sense, properties, and operations comprised approximately 50%. Remaining items tapped abilities in measurement, geometry and spatial ability, analysis, statistics, probability, and algebra. These items could be grouped into five proficiency clusters comprised of items requiring a child to: (a) identify some one-digit numerals and geometric shapes; (b) read all one-digit numerals, count beyond ten, recognize a sequence of patterns, and use nonstandard units of length to compare objects; (c) read two-digit numbers, recognize numbers in sequential order, and solve a simple word problem; (d) solve simple addition and subtraction problems; and (e) solve simple multiplication and division problems

The fifth grade mathematics assessment contained items designed to measure number sense, properties, operations, measurement, geometry and spatial sense, analysis, statistics, probabilities, and algebra. These items could be grouped into five proficiency clusters comprised of items requiring a child to: (a) solve simple multiplication and division problems; (b) demonstrate his or her understanding of place value; (c) use their knowledge of measurement to solve word problems; (d) solve problems using fractions; and (e) solve word problems involving area and volume.

Reliabilities for Mathematics and Reading Assessment Scores

Reliabilities for the mathematics and reading assessment scores (derived from item response theory-based scores) for data collection in the spring of kindergarten

were .91 and .93, respectively. The reliabilities for the mathematics and reading assessments in fifth grade were.94 for mathematics and for reading, .93.

Validity for Direct Cognitive Assessment in Mathematics and Reading

"Evidence for the validity of the direct cognitive assessments was derived from several sources. A review of national and state performance standards, comparison with state and commercial assessments, the judgments of curriculum experts and teachers all provided input to test specifications. In addition, comparing the reading and mathematics field-test item pool scores with those obtained from an established instrument provided validity information.

The ECLS-K test specifications were derived from a variety of sources. For the third through fifth-grade assessments, national and state performance standards in each of the domains were examined. The scope and sequence of materials from state assessments, as well as from major publishers, were also considered. The resulting ECLS-K fourth-grade frameworks are similar to the NAEP fourth grade frameworks, with some differences due to ECLS-K formatting and administration constraints. The fourth-grade frameworks were modified for third and fifth grades (and for the earlier K-1 forms). An expert panel of early

elementary school educators, including curriculum specialists in the subject areas and teachers at the targeted grade levels from different regions of the country, examined the pool of items and the recommended allocations. The assessment specifications indicated target percentages for content strands within

each of the subject areas. These percentages were matched as closely as possible in developing the field-test assessment item pool as well as in selecting

items for the fifth-grade assessment forms. Some compromises in matching target percentages were necessary to satisfy constraints related to other issues, including linking to K-1 and third-grade scales, avoiding floor and ceiling effects, and field test item performance. This was especially true for the reading assessment, whose structure, i.e., several questions based on each reading

passage, placed an additional constraint on the selection of items to match content strands. Experts in each of the subject areas then reviewed the proposed

fifth-grade forms for appropriateness of content and relevance to the assessment framework.

An additional method of evaluating the construct validity of the reading

and mathematics assessments was addressed by the inclusion of the Woodcock- McGrew-Werder Mini-Battery of Achievement (MBA) in the spring 2002 field test of fifth-grade items. Selected field-test forms that included reading sections also included the MBA reading test, while the MBA mathematics test was administered along with field-test mathematics forms. Correlations were computed for the MBA scores with the theta estimates based on ECLS-K field- test responses. Test scores can be related to other measures only to the extent that they are consistent within themselves. Generally, a correlation between two

variables cannot exceed the square root of the reliability of either variable. Reliabilities for the MBA were computed both with not-administered and omitted items treated as missing, and with these items treated as incorrect. The correlations of MBA with ECLS-K measures were quite close to the square roots of the reliabilities, indicating that the two assessments were measuring closely related skills" (Tourangeau, et al, 2006).

Participant Characteristics of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Kindergarten Cohort-Analytical Sample

Table 2 provides a visual representation of the step-by-step process leading to the resultant analytical sample. As can been seen from Table 2, although there were a total of 22,813 children who were sampled in the spring of kindergarten, the number of children with IRT scaled scores for reading and math was 16,228 and 16,846, respectively. Similarly, although a total of 16,143 children were sampled in the spring of fifth grade, the number of children with IRT scaled scores for reading and math was 11,262 and 11,271 respectively. However, to answer the proposed research questions, only children with IRT scaled-scores for reading and math in the spring of kindergarten and spring of fifth grade were used. As such, the number of children with IRT scaled scores for reading and math in both the spring of kindergarten and spring of fifth grade was 10,441 and 10,886, respectively. Subsequently, the number of children with IRT scaled scores in both reading and math for both the spring of kindergarten and the

spring of fifth grade represent 46% and 48% of all the children who were sampled in the spring of kindergarten, respectively.

Analytical Sample: Family Structure Variable

In an effort to answer the second research question, four separate family structure variables were created. These variables consisted of children who had either two married biological parents in their household during the spring of kindergarten, a married stepparent in their household during the spring of kindergarten, or a single parent in their household during the spring of kindergarten. The fourth family structure variable consisted of all other types of family structures that children may have experienced during the spring of kindergarten. The corresponding frequencies for each family structure variable can be seen in Table 3.

As can be seen from Table 3, 65% of children with change scores from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade in reading and math had two married biological parents in their households during the spring of kindergarten. The corresponding figures for children with a married stepparent, and single parent, or another family structure configuration who had change scores from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade in reading and math were 3%, 19%, and 8%, respectively. Consequently, 5% of the children with change scores from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade were missing information pertaining to their family structure during the spring of kindergarten.

Participant Demographics

Table 4 provides demographic characteristics for children with change scores in math from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade from the full analytical sample and from households with two married biological parents, a married stepparent, or a single parent. As such, the following descriptions of demographic characteristics are for the full analytical sample only.

In terms of gender, 50.4% of the children were males, whereas 49.6% were females. With regard to race, 58.3% were White, Non-Hispanic, 11.3% were Black or African-American, 9.1% were Hispanic, race specified, 9.6% were Hispanic, race not specified, 6.0% were Asian, 1.2% were Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander, 1.9% were American Indian or Alaska Native, and 2.4% were more than one race. In terms of

their parents' highest educational level, 3.2% of children had a parent who reported a highest educational level of 8 th grade or below, whereas 4.7% of children had a parent who reported a highest educational level of an earned doctorate or professional degree. With regard to socioeconomic status, 14.5% of children were classified as being in the 1 st quintile (the lowest classification), whereas 23.6% of children were classified as being in the 5 th quintile (the highest classification). Table 5 provides demographic characteristics for children with change scores in reading from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade from the full analytical sample and from households with two married biological parents, a married stepparent, or a single parent.

In terms of demographic characteristics for children with change scores in math from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade, nonparametric analyses based on chi-square distribution tests revealed several significant differences among the family structure variables. With regard to gender, there were proportionally more males in families with a married stepparent and more females in single parent households (x 2 = 8.82, degrees of freedom = 3, p <.05). In terms of race, proportionally more children in two biological parent families were White, non-Hispanic, whereas proportionally more children in single parent households were Black or African- American (x 2 = 1575.86, degrees of freedom = 21, p <.01). With regard to their parents' education, proportionally more children from single parent families had a parent with the educational equivalent of eighth grade or below, whereas proportionally more children in two biological parent families had a parent with a doctorate or professional degree (x 2 = 1322.38, degrees of freedom = 24, p <.01). In terms of socioeconomic status, proportionally more children in single parent families were in the first quintile, whereas proportionally more children in two biological parent families were in the fifth quintile (x 2 = 1499.83, degrees of freedom = 12, p <.01).

In terms of demographic characteristics for children with change scores in reading from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade, the same pattern emerged. As such, with regard to demographic characteristics, children in single parent families were more likely to be Black or African-American, have parents with lower educational attainment, and come from families in the lowest socioeconomic quintile,

whereas children in two biological parent families were more likely to be White, have parents with higher educational attainment, and reside in households in the highest socioeconomic quintile.

Descriptives: Math Change Score and Indicator Variables-Social Capital

As can be seen from Table 6, the average math change score from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade for the full analytical sample was 80.40. The corresponding figures for children with two married biological parents, a married stepparent, and a single parent were 82.56, 79.99, and 75.65, respectively. In terms of the indicator variables for social capital, for the entire analytical sample, parents reported talking to an average of 2.56 parents of their child's friends. The corresponding figures for children with two married biological parents, a married stepparent, and a single parent 2.89, 1.73, and 1.81, respectively. The remaining frequency distributions for the social capital indicator variables can be seen in Table 6. In addition, Table 7 provides corresponding descriptive information using the appropriate sample weights.

Descriptives: Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables-Social Capital

As can been seen from Table 8, The average reading change score from the spring of kindergarten to the spring of fifth grade for the entire sample was 99.41. The corresponding figures for children with two married biological parents, a married stepparent, and a single parent were 101.88, 99.89, and 94.07, respectively. In terms of the indicator variables for social capital, for the entire analytical sample, parents reported talking to an average of 2.56 parents of their child's friends. The corresponding figures for children with two married biological parents, a married stepparent, and a single parent 2.90, 1.69, and 1.79, respectively. Table 7 provides the associated descriptive information using the appropriate sample weights. The remaining frequency distributions for the social capital indicator variables can be seen in Table 8.

Descriptives: Math Change Score and Indicator Variables-Resource Capital

In terms of the indicator variables for resource capital, for the entire analytical sample, 4,369 parents reported that their child had access to a home computer (see Table 9). However, 5,923 parents reported that their child did not have access to a home computer. For children with two married biological parents, these figures were 2,372 and 4,716, respectively. The numbers of children with access to a home

computer who resided in a household with a married stepparent or a single parent were

  • 162 and 711, respectively. The remaining frequency distributions for the resource

capital indicator variables can be seen in Table 9.

Descriptives: Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables-Resource Capital

In terms of the indicator variables for resource capital, for the entire analytical sample, 5,882 parents reported that their child had access to a home computer (see

Table 10). However, 3,998 parents reported that their child did not have access to a home computer. For children with two married biological parents, these figures were 4,684 and 2,120, respectively. The numbers of children with access to a home computer who resided in a household with a married stepparent or a single parent were

  • 162 and 706, respectively. The remaining frequency distributions for the resource

capital indicator variables can be seen in Table 10.

Sample Weights

By design, the National Center of Educational Statistics chose to assign weights to compensate for the higher sampling probabilities of certain children from various races, schools, and communities and to adjust for school, child, teacher, and parent nonresponse (Tourangeau, Nord, Le, Pollack, & Atkins-Burnett, 2006). Accordingly, the NCES created numerous categorical variables to be used as weights depending upon the selected sample. Therefore, as suggested by the National Center for Educational Statistics (personal communication, 2008) the base weight variable appropriate for child assessment data from the spring of kindergarten, first grade, third grade, and fifth grade was selected, and subsequently used in all regression analyses.

Missing Data Given the prevalence of missing data in social sciences (Juster & Smith, 1998), the extent to which data are missing in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study comes as no surprise. However, given the relatively low occurrence of missing data for the analytical sample in this study (all but two independent variables have data from over 94% of the analytical sample—the other variables have data from over 87% of the analytical sample) mean substitution was used. As outlined by Acock (2005), mean substitution is especially problematic when there are many missing values (over 30% of the population is missing data). As such, because of the relatively low occurrence of

missing data, the change in the variance brought on by mean substitution for any variable will be minimal (Acock, 2005).

Data Analysis Plan

In an effort to answer the first research question-- does social and resource capital have an impact on young children's academic improvement, controlling for parent's education and socioeconomic status—multiple regression was used. Accordingly, indicators of parents' resource and social capital (measured in the spring of kindergarten), while controlling for their educational level, socioeconomic status, and their child's gender and race was used to predict the change in IRT scaled scores from kindergarten to fifth grade in reading and math. Additionally, by using the specified sample weights, any regression estimates in the statistical model will yield consistent estimates for the entire population from which they were drawn (Winship & Radbill,

1994).

In an effort to answer the second research question-- does family structure matter in terms of children's academic improvement—additional indicators consisting of family structure variables were added to the regression model. If the family structure coefficients are significant, I will examine whether or not the effect of social and resource capital varies by family structure.

CHAPTER 4

RESULTS

This chapter provides the results of statistical analyses using a series of multiple regressions in an effort to answer two research questions:

  • 1 Does social and resource capital have an impact on young children's academic improvement, controlling for parent's education and socioeconomic status?

  • 2 Does family structure matter in terms of young children's academic improvement?

Including multiple independent variables in the regression models allowed the use of statistical control in estimating the unique effect of each independent variable on the outcome (Meyers, Glenn, & Guarino, 2006; Tate, 1998). Accordingly, in an effort to answer the first research question, two multiple regressions were used to analyze the relationship between social and resource capital and children's academic improvement —measured via the change from kindergarten to fifth grade in children's IRT scaled scores on standardized reading and math tests—while controlling for parent's education, socioeconomic status, children's gender, and children's race.

Parent Social and Resource Capital and Children's Reading Change Scores

Table 11 presents the regressions of parents' social and resource capital onto children's reading and math change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade. In terms of the reading change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade, the model explained 13% of the variance. With regard to math change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade, 15% of the variance was explained by the model. However, given the extent to which the various indicators impacted reading and math improvement, only the individual contributions of each statistically significant predictor variable in the model are discussed.

Parent Social Capital

Children whose parent contacted the school scored lower by .022 standard deviations on the change scores in reading and .038 standard deviations on the change scores in math as compared to children whose parent did not contact the school. Similarly, children whose parent attended a parent/teacher conference scored lower by . 021 standard deviations on the change scores in reading and .031 standard deviations

on the change score in math as compared to children whose parent did not attend parent/teacher conferences. However, the magnitude of these contributions was less than the contribution of parents acting as a school volunteer. Accordingly, children whose parent acted as a school volunteer scored .041 standard deviations higher on the change scores in reading and .070 standard deviations higher on the change scores in math compared to their counterparts whose parent did not act as a school volunteer.

Parent Resource Capital

Children who visited the library with their parent scored .025 standard deviations higher on math change scores than children who did not visit the library with their parent. Additionally, compared to children who did not have a home computer, children who had a home computer scored .045 and .046 standard deviations higher on reading and math change scores, respectively. Although these variables had a statistically significant affect, their impact on reading and math improvement was less than the impact of a parent reading to the child. Compared to children whose parent did not read to them, children whose parent read to them three to six times a week scored .144 standard deviation higher on reading change scores and .114 standard deviations higher on math change scores. Regarding reading change scores, compared to children who did not read picture books, children who read picture books once or twice a week scored .051 standard deviations higher. Finally, compared to children who did not read outside of school, children who read outside school once or twice a week or three to six times a week scored .030 and .082 standard deviations higher on their math change scores, respectively. However, compared to children who did not read outside school, children who read outside school every day scored .069 standard deviations and .049 standard deviations higher on reading and math change scores, respectively.

Parent Education

The magnitude of impact of parent education on children's reading and math improvement was directly proportional to the degree to which a parent obtained additional schooling beyond a high school diploma. Children whose parent reported a high school diploma scored .059 standard deviations higher on reading change scores and .080 standard deviations higher on math change scores compared to their counterparts whose parent did not complete high school. Similarly, compared to their

counterparts whose parent did not complete high school, children whose parent reported some college scored .148 standard deviations and .168 standard deviations higher on change scores for reading and math, respectively. Children whose parent earned a bachelor's degree increased the disparity between their and their counterparts' reading and math change scores by .182 standard deviations and .155 standard deviations, respectively. Finally, compared to their fellow classmates whose parent did not complete high school, children whose parent had an educational equivalent beyond a bachelor's degree scored .173 standard deviations higher on reading change scores and .179 standard deviations higher on math change scores.

Socioeconomic Status

Compared to children whose parent-reported socioeconomic status placed them in the lowest quintile, children in the second quintile scored .069 standard deviations higher on reading change scores and .068 standard deviations higher on math change scores. For math change scores, the corresponding advantage of children in either the third, fourth, or fifth quintiles compared to children in the lowest quintile were.085, .097, and .126 standard deviations, respectively. Compared to children whose parent- reported socioeconomic status placed them in the lowest quintile, children in the third and fourth quintile scored .080 and .103 standard deviations higher on reading change scores, respectively. However, for children in the fifth or highest quintile, the corresponding reading change scores was .102 standard deviations higher than those children in the lowest quintile with reading change scores.

Gender

Males scored .111 standard deviations higher than females on math change scores. However, in terms of reading change scores, females scored .023 standard deviations higher than males.

Race

Black children scored .142 standard deviations lower on reading change scores and .153 standard deviations lower on math change scores than their White classmates. Additionally, children from other races scored .036 standard deviations lower on reading change scores than White children. However, in terms of math change

scores, compared to White children, Hispanic and Asian children scored .047 and .048 standard deviations higher, respectively.

Family Structure, Parent Social and Resource Capital and Children's Reading Change Scores

The second regression question—does family structure matter in terms of children academic improvement—was answered by including the family structure variables in the initial model. Table 12 presents the regressions of parents' social and resource capital onto children's reading and math change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade with the additional family structure variables included in the model. In terms of the reading change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade, the model explained 13% of the variance. With regard to math change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade, 16% of the variance was explained by the model. Although the addition of the family structure variables was associated with slight changes in the standardized betas of the various resource and social capital variables, the results are quite similar to those obtained in the model without the family structure variables. However, children with a married stepparent scored .036 standard deviations higher on reading change scores compared to children in households with two married biological parents. Accordingly, given that the stepfamily coefficient was statistically significant in the model, I examined the extent to which social and resource capital impacted children's reading change scores in this family structure separately.

Parent Social and Resource Capital and Reading Change Scores: Children in Stepfamilies

Table 13 presents the regression of parents' social and resource capital onto children's reading change scores for only those children residing with a married stepparent. The model explained 34% of the variance in reading change scores. However, given the extent to which the various indicators impacted reading improvement, only the individual contributions of each statistically significant predictor variable in the model are discussed.

Parent Social Capital

Children whose parent contacted the school scored higher by .134 standard deviations on the change scores in reading compared to children whose parent did not

contact the school. In contrast, compared to children whose parents did not attend a parent/teacher conference, those children whose parents did attend a parent/teacher conference scored .015 standard deviations lower on reading change scores. Finally, as the number of parents of their friends that their parents talk to regularly increased by one standard deviation, their reading change scores increased by .144 standard deviations.

Parent Resource Capital

Compared to children whose parent did not read books to them, children whose parent read books to them once or twice a week scored .457 standard deviations higher. In addition, compared to children who did not read picture books, children who read picture books three to six times a week scored .482 standard deviations higher on reading change scores. Further, children who read outside school three to six times a week scored .245 standard deviations higher and children who read outside school everyday scored.334 standard deviations higher than their counterparts who did not reading outside school.

Socioeconomic Status

Compared to children whose parent-reported socioeconomic status placed them in the lowest quintile, children in the second quintile scored .328 standard deviations higher on reading change scores. The corresponding advantage of children in either the third, fourth, or fifth quintiles compared to children in the lowest quintile were.343, .333, and .332 standard deviations, respectively.

Race

Black children scored .230 standard deviations lower on reading change scores than White children. Additionally, children who represented other races scored .125 standard deviations lower than White children.

CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION In light of evidence to suggest that children in alternative families (i.e., reside with a single parent or a stepparent) demonstrate less academic achievement than those children residing in two-biological-parent families (Abd-El-Fattah, 2006; Bjorklund, Ginther, & Sundstrom, 2006; Cavanagh, 2006; Heard, 2007; Jeynes, 2006; Tillman, 2007), the purpose of this study was to examine the usefulness of social capital theory as a basis for understanding the academic improvement of young children and to explore how variations in social and resource capital among three family structures (single-parent, two-parent-biological, and stepparent) predicted academic improvement in young children over two points in time. Focusing on young children was particularly salient given the extent to which scholars have shown that academic achievement in early childhood can predict various long-term advantages/disadvantages including educational attainment at age 22 (Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2005), dropping out of high school (Alexander, Entwisle, Dauber, 2002; Finn, Gerber, & Boyd-Zaharias, 2005), and attending college (Garces, Thomas, & Currie, 2002). Further, because early childhood offers an optimal period for intervention and represents the period when gaps in academic achievement first emerge (Perez-Johnson & Maynard, 2007), the period of early childhood deserved continued research-based study. Accordingly, from a family social capital perspective, the following research questions were addressed:

  • 1

Does social and resource capital have an impact on young children's academic improvement, controlling for parent's education and income level?

  • 2 Does family structure matter in terms of children's academic improvement?

Parent Social and Resource Capital

Scholars previously established the associations between variations in social and resource capital and dropping out of high school (Teachman, Paasch, & Carver, 1996; 1997), attending college (Smith, Beaulieu, & Seraphine, 1995), completing college (Evans, Kelly, & Wanner, 2001), academic performance (Mullis, Rathge, & Mullis, 2003) and math and reading achievement (Hampden-Thompson & Pong, 2005; Parcel & Dufur, 2001; Pong, 1997) in older children. However, this study addressed the role of

social and resource capital in relation to the academic improvement of young children— an area of inquiry which has been repeatedly called to attention by scholars in the past as needing further examination (Artis, 2007; Astone & McLanahan, 1991; Downey, 1994; Lee, 1993; Pong, 1998).

As a theoretical framework, social capital was useful in that it permitted the measurement and articulation of the quality and quantity of networks connecting children to the resources of their parents (Coleman, 1990)—a construct that has helped scholars explain differences among students in terms of their academic performance based on the presence/absence of these resources (Majoribanks, 2002; Mullis, Rathge, & Mullis, 2003). In this study, for all children included in the analyses, parent social and resource capital explained 13% of the variance in reading change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade and 15% of the variance in math change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade. In addition, parent social and resource capital explained 34% of children's reading improvement in stepparent family structures.

For the entire analytical sample of school-age children, having a parent who acted as a school volunteer significantly increased their reading and math improvement scores. However, other types of parent involvement including parents contacting the school and parents attending parent teacher conferences were negatively related to student achievement. Previous authors have linked parent involvement to students' positive academic achievement (Alomar, 2006; Lee & Bowen, 2006; Marchant, Paulson, & Rothlisberg, 2001). However, for children in this study, children whose parent contacted the school or attended a parent/teacher conference had lower reading and math improvement scores than their counterparts whose parent did not contact the school or attend a parent teacher conference. One possible explanation for this finding may be that children whose parent either contacted the school, attended a parent/teacher conference, or both, were already performing poorly and thus necessitated greater parent involvement via their teachers' requests for further meetings and/or contact. In fact, Black (2005), Elmore (2008), and Potter (2008) suggested that teachers primarily schedule conferences with parents in an effort to discuss problematic situations such as declines in a child's academic performance, positive attitude, or appropriate behavior. Further, Patrikakou and Weissberg (1999, 2000) suggested that

the quality of parent teacher conferences is more important that the quantity of parent teacher contacts. It may also be that for the children in this study who were performing poorly, their parents' contact with teachers via scheduled conferences may have been rendered ineffective, given Swap's (1993) assertion that parent teacher conferences tend to "smooth over problems, limit honest dialogue, and inhibit future connections (p.

21).

In terms of parent resource capital, children who visited the library with their parent scored higher on math change scores that children who did not. Mulhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford and Taggart (2008) reported similar findings for both math and reading achievement. In addition, children in this study who had access to a home computer scored significantly higher on reading and math improvement than those children who did not have a home computer. This is consistent with findings of other researchers who have documented the association between a rich learning environment and children's standardized reading and math scores (Burchinal, Peisner- Feinberg, Pianta, & Howes, 2002; Downer and Pianta, 2006; Duncan & Magnuson, 2005). For children in this study, having a parent who read to them, and reading outside school every day themselves, was associated with higher reading and math improvement scores. These findings are similar to Boardman, Powers, Padilla, and Hummer (2002) and Guo and Harris (2000). However, whereas Boardman, Powers, Padilla and Hummer merely linked children's intellectual development to parenting style, cognitive stimulation in the home, and the physical environment of the home, Guo and Harris reported that a negative association between poverty and cognitive functioning could be completely mediated by these same factors. However, unlike Guo and Harris, even after controlling for the impact of parent education, socioeconomic status, and the child's gender and race, parent social and resource capital variables associated with higher math and reading improvement were still statistically significant.

The devastating impact of a family's low socioeconomic status on children's cognitive functioning and academic achievement has been well documented (Artis, 2007; Boardman, Powers, Padilla, & Hummer, 2002; Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; McLoyd, 1998). In this study, school age children whose parent-reported socioeconomic status placed them in the lowest quintile scored significantly lower in both reading and

math improvement compared to children whose parent-reported socioeconomic status placed them in all other quintiles. Hirsh-Pasek and Burchinal (2006) and Merlo, Bowman, and Barnett (2007) reported that a child's reading achievement could be accounted for by parent nurturance and involvement. Perhaps in this population, the children in the lowest quintile (i.e. lowest 20% in terms of family socioeconomic status), lacked sufficient parent involvement and nurturance, thereby reducing their academic improvement compared to all other children in higher quintiles. However, the complexity of this interpretation is further exacerbated by the fact that a number of other factors have also been shown to be related to socioeconomic status which impact children's academic achievement including lowered exposure to household literature (Evans, 2004; Vernon-Feagans, Hammer, Miccio, & Manlove, 2002), poorer quality neighborhoods (Evans, 2004; Lee & Burkam, 2002), the extent and quality to which teachers' interact with students during classroom instruction and activities (Entwisle & Alexander, 1993; Pianta, LaParo, Payne, Cox, & Bradley, 2002), decreased parental involvement in their child's schooling (Evans, 2004), and decreased occurrences of parents reading to children (Lee & Burkam, 2002; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998). In fact, at least in terms of reading improvement, Aikens and Barbarin (2008) offered compelling evidence to suggest that the impact of SES could be systematically mediated through efforts "that direct resources to strengthening family literacy environments, encouraging parental involvement in schools, and reducing parental role strain" (p. 248).

Parent education, and particularly maternal education, has repeatedly been linked to children's academic achievement (Burchinal, Peisner-Feinberg, Pianta, & Howes, 2002; Downer & Pianta, 2006; Melhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj- Blatchford, & Taggart, 2008). For children in this study, having a parent without a high school diploma placed them well below their peers—in reading and math improvement scores—whose parent had either a high school diploma, some college, a bachelor's degree, or the educational equivalent beyond a bachelor's degree. Boardman, Powers, Padilla, and Hummer (2002) reported similar results using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-Child Data involving children between the ages of six and fourteen. They found that children whose mothers did not complete high school scored

significantly lower on measures of math and reading than their counterparts whose mother's did complete high school. Magnuson (2007), using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-Child Data involving children similar in ages (between 6 and 12), revealed that the acquisition of additional schooling by young mothers increased the academic skills in reading and math of their young children through associated increases in the quality of their children's home environments.

Previous scholars have documented no gender differences in overall math and reading achievement of children in kindergarten (West, Denton, & Germino-Hausken, 2002) and from kindergarten to first grade (Denton & West, 2002; Chatterji, 2005) using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999. However, this study revealed gender differences in math and reading improvement from kindergarten to fifth grade. Overall, males showed higher math improvement, whereas females showed higher reading improvement. One potential explanation for these long- term gender improvement differences may be due to variations in sub-test performance, which impacted overall improvement longitudinally. In fact, as Denton and West (2002) stated, "differences (or lack of differences) in overall achievement scores only tell part of the story. Another way to think about how certain child and family characteristics relate to first-graders' spring achievement is in terms of children's acquisition of specific reading and mathematics knowledge and skills. Whether or not certain groups of children acquire certain skills or sets of skills may add meaning to an overall achievement score difference" (p. 3). Perhaps this is exactly what happened for the children in this investigation as they progressed from kindergarten to fifth grade. The acquisition of certain skills or skill sets in reading may have been more pronounced in females from kindergarten to fifth grade, whereas the acquisition of certain skills or skill sets in math may have been more pronounced in males from kindergarten to fifth grade. Future research should examine whether or not these gender differences in skills sets do indeed exist, and if they do, whether or not they persist beyond this elementary school period.

Racial disparities between White, Black, and Hispanic children on measures of reading and math achievement using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 have been well articulated in the literature (Chatterji,

2005; Denton & West, 2002; Duncan & Magnuson, 2005; Raver, Gershoff, & Aber, 2007). Although the authors of these previous studies limited their analyses to include only children in kindergarten and kindergarten through first grade, the results of this investigation suggested that disparities remain well into fifth grade. Duncan and Magnuson (2005) suggested that differences in parent education, family structure, and neighborhood conditions should be targeted for intervention and that by focusing on these three key components, policy makers could perhaps alleviate some of the socioeconomic pressures directly impacting children's parents and indirectly impacting children's academic improvement across racial categories. In fact, Raver, Gershoff, and Aber (2007) reported clear evidence that lower income was associated with increased economic hardships, higher parental stress, less positive parenting behaviors, and lowered social skills amongst children from all three racial groups, all of which impacted children's academic achievement. Further, Denton & West (2002) reported significant racial differences among subtest performance related to math and reading achievement in kindergartners and first graders using the ECLS-K. Additionally, West, Denton, & Germino-Hausken (2000) used the ECLS-K to show that kindergartner's problem behaviors varied by race. Perhaps further research could explore the potential link between problem behaviors and subtest performance (in addition to parent education, family structure, economic hardship, parenting stress, parenting practices and neighborhood conditions), which may account for the some of the overall racial disparities in the math and reading improvement scores.

Family Structure, Parent Social and Resource Capital, and Children's Reading and Math Change Scores

A primary objective of this investigation was the examination of how family structure mattered in terms of children's academic improvement from kindergarten to fifth grade. Given that numerous scholars have documented the relative academic disadvantages faced by children residing with a single parent (Astone & McLanahan, 1991; Carlson & Corcoran, 2001; Downey, 1994; Heard, 2007; Lee, 1993; Pong, 1998; Tillman, 2007) the results of this study are quite unexpected. For children in this study, there was no significant difference on reading or math improvement from kindergarten to fifth grade between children residing with a single parent and children residing with

two married biological parents during kindergarten. Although, Astone and McLanahan (1991), Carlson and Corcoran (2001), Downey (1994), Lee (1993), and Pong (1998) all reported academic differences between children in single parent families and two biological parent families from a static perspective (their respective analyses included only assessments held during one point in time), Heard (2007) and Tillman (2007) reported differences between children in single parent families and two biological parent families using longitudinal analyses from children sampled over a period of time. However, both of these researchers used samples with significantly older child participants (in grades 7 through 12). In fact, all of the authors reporting differences between children in single parent and two biological parent families used data drawn from children who were at least middle school-aged. DeBell (2008) using data from a nationally representative sample of children residing in single mother households reported a positive relationship between parent involvement and children's age for children in grades one through five, but a negative relationship between parent involvement and children's age for children in grades six through eight and nine through twelve. Given the relative absence of studies examining the effect of single parents' school involvement on their young children's academic achievement (Lee, Kushner, & Cho, 2007) and the results from this study involving children from single parent families, future research could longitudinally explore the potential link between children's age, their single parent's involvement with their school, and their overall academic improvement.

Parent Social and Resource Capital and Reading Change Scores: Children in Stepfamilies

One of the most surprising findings in this study was the extent to which children living with a married stepparent in kindergarten scored significantly higher on their reading change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade compared to their counterparts who lived in two married biological parent families during kindergarten. There are a number of studies that have documented the overall educational disadvantage of children in stepfamilies compared to intact biological families (Artis, 2007; Carlson & Corcoran, 2001; Ginther & Pollak, 2004; Jeynes, 1999), single parent families (Jeynes, 1998; Jeynes, 2000b; Jeynes, 2006; Ram & Hou, 2003; Tillman, 2007) and even

widowed-parent stepfamilies (Jeynes, 2000a). Therefore, the comparatively inconsistent findings in this study deserve considerable attention.

One possible reason for these findings is the extent to which social capital—in the form of the number of parents of their friends that their parent talked with regularly— impacted stepchildren. Through analysis of the population in its entirety, this indicator of social capital offered no statistical significance with regard to children's math and reading change scores. However, for children living with a stepparent during kindergarten, this indicator of social capital suggested that as the number of parents of their friends that their parent talked to regularly increased by one standard deviation, their reading change score increased by .144 standard deviations. Abd-El-Fattah (2006) and Cavanagh, Schiller, and Riegle-Crumb (2006) concluded that social capital —via parent involvement—played a vital role in terms of the academic achievement of adolescents in stepfamilies. Further, Artis (2007), Astone and McLanahan (1991), Downey (1994), Lee (1993) and Pong (1998) recommended that scholars examine the role social capital plays in relation to the academic achievement of children reared in stepfamilies. Perhaps more so in young children, as opposed to adolescence, does social capital (by way of parents speaking to the parents of their children's friends) impact academic improvement.

A second possible explanation for these divergent findings may be related to a combination of the specific population characteristics themselves, and family processes— including parent involvement. Perhaps as a subsample, the stepparents in this study differentially impacted their stepchildren which subsequently affected their reading change scores. Scholars have demonstrated that gender of the child does not impact stepparent involvement (Hofferth & Anderson, 2003). Additionally, scholars have also found that stepfathers spend more time with younger as opposed to older stepchildren (Dunn, Davies, O'Connor, & Sturgess, 2000) and that Black stepfathers spend significantly less time with their stepchildren than White stepfathers (Hofferth & Anderson, 2003). The fact that there was no difference on reading change scores between males and females within the stepparent family structure subsample (but there was in the entire analytic sample), and that there was a greater discrepancy between Black children compared to White children in this subsample than there was in the

entire analytical sample, supports this assertion. Accordingly, in may be that the stepparents in the population from which the data were analyzed interacted with their stepchildren differently, thereby affecting their stepchild's reading improvement.

The differences in the proportion of explained variance in reading change scores from kindergarten to fifth grade between the stepchildren subsample and the entire analytical sample also supports the assertion that children in stepfamilies are uniquely impacted by the population characteristics themselves, and family processes—including parent involvement. Based on these findings, it appears as though the indicators used to measure social and resource capital were more salient for stepchildren's academic improvement in reading and math than they were for children in single parent and two- biological parent families. Unlike Widmer (2006), who stated that "respondents in post- divorce families have a small number of ties embedded in long chains of connections", the children in these stepfamilies appear to reside in families characterized as those providing "bonding social capital—densely connected family networks" (p. 995), which may have positively impacted their overall longitudinal reading improvement compared to children in other family structures.

Implications

The results of this study have implications for various groups of individuals including (step)parents, scholars, and policymakers. The fact that parenting behaviors are amenable to change and directly and indirectly associated with improved child development, academic achievement, and scholastic performance (Mulhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford, & Taggart (2008) provides a compelling argument for parents and stepparents to examine, and perhaps modify, their own parenting practices. Given the extent to which involvement in school functions impacted children's academic improvement in this study and others (Alomar, 2006; Lee & Bowen, 2006; Marchant, Paulson, & Rothlisberg, 2001) the parent/child/school connection appears to offer an optimal avenue for parents to concentrate their focus in an effort to assist their children. For stepparents (and parents as well), actively engaging in the social aspect of their (step)children's lives also appears to provide a way in which they can assist their stepchildren academically. By speaking to the parents of their stepchild's friends on a regular basis, and actively engaging in the social web surrounding their stepchild, the

social capital generated will undoubtedly benefit their stepchild academically. Other scholars have certainly supported this assumption (Coleman, 1990; Israel, Beaulieu, & Hartless, 2001; Majoribanks, 2002; Widmer, 2006).

These findings suggest that social capital—even with its purported overall decline (Putnam, 1995)— longitudinally impacts children's academic improvement from kindergarten to fifth grade. For parents, this highlights the significance and importance of becoming actively involved in the lives of their children at an early age. Active parenting at an early age is especially vital considering the extent to which parent involvement impacts early academic achievement (Alomar, 2006; Lee & Bowen, 2006; Marchant, Paulson, & Rothlisberg, 2001; Mulhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj- Blatchford, & Taggart, 2008), which subsequently has long-term implications for educational attainment in young adulthood (Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2005), dropping out of high school (Alexander, Entwisle, Dauber, 2002; Finn, Gerber, & Boyd- Zaharias, 2005) and attending college (Garces, Thomas, & Currie, 2002).

These findings also have implications in light of recent national policies such as President Bush's 2002 No Child Left Behind Act and the Good Start, Grow Smart initiative. Consequently, policymakers should continue to focus on building better parent, child, and school connections that increase the level of academic and social support children experience. By fostering stronger ties to schools, communities, and fellow parents (i.e., increasing social capital), policymakers can directly and indirectly assist parents in their effort to build a richer environment that is conducive to their children's learning and academic improvement.

Limitations

Although a secondary analysis on the data drawn from the ECLS-K offered a low cost, readily accessible, and nationally representative population from which to derive information, the inability to determine which parent responded to questions pertaining to (step)children is an obvious drawback. Because only one parent was interviewed, and no information was obtained to distinguish that parent's exact relationship to the focus child, it was impossible to determine whether the parent respondent was a step or biological parent—only that the child lived in a stepparent household. (Tourangeau, Nord, Le, Pollack, & Atkins-Burnett, 2006). This poses potential problems with respect

to the view that "studies have generally favored collecting data primarily from the mother, who researchers believed was most knowledgeable about residential children and their well-being" (Hofferth, 2005, p. 897). Further, because relationship quality data between parent and child are not available in the ECLS-K, leaving this important factor unmeasured provided no way of knowing how the participant's perceptions of the child may have flavored responses to inquiry (Artis, 2007).

Hofferth (2005) stated that "the major reason for large sample size, of course, is to obtain greater precision of estimates of subgroups of the U.S. population, given that the population is diverse in ethnicity, socioeconomic status, family structure, and family employment" (p. 893). Even thought the ECLS-K offers employable sample weights to compensate for unequal probabilities of selection, participant or unit non-response, and to conform to known population distributions, the weighted results stemming from these analyses of the relatively small sample of stepparent family structures warrants caution. This is particularly relevant given Cohen's (1988) assertion that as sample size increases so does power and precision, while the chance of error decreases. However, the ratio of participants to predictor variables in the stepparent family structure was sufficient (at least 15 to 1, Field, 2005). Nonetheless, the resultant stepparent family structure analyses and associated model were based on heavily weighted data in order to adjust for the overall distribution of stepfamilies within the population as a whole, and should be interpreted with this caveat.

Future Research The findings of this study accentuate the impetus for scholars to continually examine parent, child, and school interactions from a social capital perspective. Although not explored in the present study directly, opportunities abound for the examination of various teacher-related social capital indicators within the ECLS-K dataset. Perhaps by including these additional variables related to teachers, the amount of explained variance in children's reading and math improvement can be dramatically improved. In fact, several scholars have documented the positive impact of teachers' social and resource capital on children's academic achievement (Parcel & Durfur, 2001; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005). Future researchers could extend this study's

focus of parent resource and social capital to include teacher resource and social capital using the ECLS-K dataset.

The magnitude in which social and resource capital indicators accounted for stepchildren's reading improvement from kindergarten to fifth grade warrants additional empirical focus. Given the longitudinal nature of the ECLS-K data, latent variable growth curve modeling might be one way to specifically answer how changes in family social and resource capital impact stepchildren's academic performance over time. In fact, because "the primary goal of longitudinal analysis of repeated measures and growth curve analyses in particular is to describe patterns of change over time" (McCartney, Burchinal, & Bub, 2006, p. 66), latent variable growth modeling would represent the optimal means by which to explore this phenomenon.

Finally, another potential avenue for academic exploration is the link between computer usage, social capital, and children's academic improvement. In this study, having a computer in the home was associated with increases in both reading and math improvement. Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, and Gross (2000) reported that "much of children's alone time on computers appears actually to be spent extending social relationships by connecting with others through interpersonal communication applications via the Internet" (p. 131). Accordingly, with the relatively recent rise of social networking Internet sites geared toward keeping families connected (Gutner, 2006) and targeted toward elementary-aged children (Borja, 2006), children's social capital acquisition may have, in fact, "gone digital". The potential that children's social capital may be shifting toward cyberspace offers a compelling rebuttal to Putman's (1995) assertion that social capital's decline stems from parents not having enough time to spend with their children, the sociological shift of women working outside the home with greater frequency, and the overall increase in marital disruptions.

Conclusions

An effort to build a model detailing the impact of family and school capital on children's academic outcomes, Majoribanks (2002) succinctly summarized the extent to which parental involvement benefitted children by stating, "it is generally agreed that if parents are involved positively in activities associated with children's learning then the school outcomes of those children are likely to be enhanced" (p.1). The results of this

study clearly elucidate the utility of family social capital theory (Coleman, 1987; 1988; 1990; 1997) for examining and explaining variations in children's academic improvement. By using various indicators of both resource and social capital present in the ECLS-K dataset as an attempt to articulate, approximate, and measure the culmination of norms, values, and expectations embedded within a child's social networks, a statistically significant proportion of the variation in children's reading and math improvement has been explained. Further, the way in which family social and resource capital impacts the academic improvement of children in stepfamilies has been specifically modeled, and shown to account for a substantial amount of explained variation.

APPENDIX A

FIGURES

Figure 1 Social and Resource Capital as Predictors of Academic Improvement Unique Effect of Resource Capital

Figure 1

Social and Resource Capital as Predictors of Academic Improvement

Unique Effect of Resource Capital on Academic Improvement

Proportion of Variance in Academic Improvement Explained by Social and Resource Capital

Unexplained Variance

Controls (Parental SES Education, Child's Race and Gender)

Unique Effect of Social Capital on Academic Improvement

Figure 2

Figure 2 Social Capital, Resource Capital, and Family Structure as Predictors of Academic Improvement. Unique effect

Social Capital, Resource Capital, and Family Structure as Predictors of Academic Improvement.

Unique effect of Family Structure on Academic Improvement

Controls (Parental SES Education, Child's Race and Gender)

Unexplained Variance Unique Effect of Resource Capital on

Academic Improvement

Family Structure Academic Improvement

Social Capital Unique Effect of Social Capital on Academic Improvement

Resource Capital

Proportion of Variance in Academic Improvement Explained by Social and Resource Capital

APPENDIX B

TABLES

Table 118

Correlation Matrix amongst Social and Resource Capital Predictor Variables

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

  • 1 .

1

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

  • 2 .

.

1

.

.

.

.

.

.

  • 3 .

.

.

1

4

.

.

.

1

5

.

.

.

.

  • 6 .

.

.

.

  • 7 .

.

.

.

  • 8 .

.

.

.

  • 9 .

.

.

.

  • 1 .

.

.

.

.

.

1

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1

.

10

.

.

.

.015

.

.

.

.

.

1

*p < .001 Variable Numbers for Appendix A

  • 1 How often you read to child

  • 2 Parent contacted school

  • 3 Attended open house

  • 4 Attended parent/teacher conference

  • 5 Parent acted as a school volunteer

  • 6 Number of parents of child's friends parent talks to regularly

  • 7 Visited the library

  • 8 Have home computer child uses

  • 9 How often child reads picture books

  • 1 How frequently child reads books outside school

Table 2

Step-by-Step Process Leading to the Resultant Analytical Sample

Population

Frequency

Percentage

Full Sample: Spring of Kindergarten

22,813

100%

Number of Children in Spring of Kindergarten with IRT Scaled- Scores for Reading

16,228

71.1%

Number of Children in Spring of Kindergarten with IRT Scaled-Scores for Math

16,846

73.8%

Full Sample: Spring of Fifth Grade

16,143

100%

Number of Children in Spring of Fifth Grade with IRT Scaled-Scores for Reading Number of Children in Spring of Fifth

11,262

70%

Grade with IRT Scaled-Scores for Math

11,271

70%

Number of Children with change scores for Reading

10441

93%*

Number of Children with change scores for Math

10886

97%*

*This percentage represents the proportion of children in fifth grade with IRT Scaled- Scores who also have IRT Scaled-Scores from when they were in Kindergarten.

119

Table 120

Analytical Sample: Family Structure Variable

Population

Number of Children

With Change Scores in Math

Full Analytical Sample

10,886

100%

Two Married Biological Parents

7,091

65%

A Married Stepparent

317

3%

A Single Parent

2040

19%

Other

852

8%

Missing

586

5%

With Change Scores in Reading

Full Analytical Sample

10,441

100%

Two Married Biological Parents

6,807

65%

A Married Stepparent

313

3%

A Single Parent

1977

19%

Other

791

8%

Missing

553

5%

62

Table 121

Demographic Characteristics for Children with Change Scores in Math from the Spring of Kindergarten to the Spring of Fifth Grade

 

Full Analytical

 

Two Married

A

A Single

Sample (n =

Biological

Married

Parent (n =

10,886)

Parents (n =

Steppar

2040)

 

7091)

ent

(n

Gender

= 317)

 

Males

5482 (50.4%)

3600 (50.8%)

172 (54.3%)

974 (47.7%)

Females

5404 (49.6%)

3491 (49.2%)

145 (45.7%)

1066 (52.3%)

Race

White, Non-Hispanic

Parent Highest

6349 (58.3%)

4781 (67.4%)

215 (67.8%)

791 (38.8%)

Black or African-

1234

(11.3%)

314 (4.4%)

28 (8.8%)

657 (32.2%)

American Hispanic, Race

991 (9.1%)

602 (8.5%)

25 (7.9%)

204 (10%)

Specified Hispanic, Race not

1050 (9.6%)

625 (8.8%)

19 (6.0%)

202 (9.9%)

Specified Asian

648 (6.0%)

459 (6.5%)

4 (1.3%)

47 (2.3%)

Native Hawaiian,

133 (1.2%)

80 (1.1%)

3 (.9%)

26 (1.3%)

Other Pacific Islander American Indian or

203 (1.9%)

71 (.1.0%)

11 (3.5%)

55 (2.7%)

Alaska Native More than One

266 (2.4%)

155 (2.2%)

12 (3.8%)

57 (2.8%)

Non-Hispanic

Educational Level 8 th Grade or Below

350 (3.2%)

190 (2.7%)

1 (.3%)

108 (5.3%)

12 `" Grade

SES

619 (5.7%)

234 (3.3%)

11 (3.5%)

275 (13.5%)

High School

2600 (23.9%)

1333 (18.8%)

101 (31.9%)

762 (37.4%)

Diploma/Equivale Voc/Tech Program

560 (5.1%)

366 (5.2%)

22 (6.9%)

118 (5.8%)

Some College

2831 (26.0%)

1869 (26.4%)

120 (37.9%)

543 (26.6%)

Bachelor's Degree

2006 (18.4%)

1675 (23.6%)

42 (13.2%)

156 (7.6%)

Graduate/Profession

264 (2.4%)

215 (3%)

7 (2.2%)

27 (1.3%)

School-No Master's Degree

826 (7.6%)

732 (10.3%)

8 (2.5%)

39 (1.9%)

Doctorate or

517 (4.7%)

477 (6.7%)

5 (1.6%)

12 (.6%)

Professional Degree

1 s ` Quintile

1581 (14.5%)

604 (8.5%)

29 (9.1%)

646 (31.7%)

2 nd Quintile

1844 (16.9%)

1011 (14.3%)

76 (24.0%)

453 (22.2%)

3 ts Quintile

2035 (18.7%)

1369 (19.3%)

94 (29.7%)

364 (17.8%)

4 ts Quintile

2115 (19.4%)

1649 (23.3%)

68 (21.5%)

234 (11.5%)

5 th Quintile

2570 (23.6%)

2216 (31.3%)

31 (9.8%)

188 (9.2%)

Other (n =

Missing (n

852)

=586)

441 (51.8%)

295 (50.3%)

411 (48.2%)

291 (49.7%)

376 (44.1%)

186 (31.7%)

120 (14.1%)

115 (19.6%)

114 (13.4%)

46 (7.8%)

117 (13.7%)

87 (14.8%)

39 (4.6%)

99 (16.9%)

16 (1.9%)

8 (1.4%)

39 (4.6%)

27 (4.6%)

30 (3.5%)

12 (2%)

33 (3.9%)

18 (3.1%)

62 (7.3%)

37 (6.3%)

316 (37.1%)

88 (15%)

41 (4.8%)

13 (2.2%)

227 (26.6%)

72 (12.3%)

102 (12%)

31 (5.3%)

11 (1.3%)

4 (.7%)

41 (4.8%)

6 (1%)

19 (2.2%)

4 (.7%)

194 (22.8%)

108 (18.4%)

219 (25.7%)

85 (14.5%)

161 (18.9%)

47 (8%)

120 (14.1%)

44 (7.5%)

104 (12.2%)

31 (5.3%)

Table 122

Demographic Characteristics for Children with Change Scores in Reading from the Spring of Kindergarten to the Spring of Fifth Grade

Gender

Males

Females

Race

White, Non-Hispanic Black or African- Hispanic, Race Hispanic, Race not Specified Asian Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander American Indian or Alaska Native More than One Race, Non-Hispanic

Parent Highest

Level 8 th Grade or Below

9 th -12 th Grade High School Diploma/Equivalent Voc/Tech Program Some College Bachelor's Degree Graduate/Professional School-No Degree Master's Degree Doctorate or Degree

Full Analytical Sample (n =

10441)

5256 (50.3%)

5185 (49.7%)

Two Married Biological Parents (n =

6807)

3449 (50.7%)

3358 (49.3%)

A

Married

Steppar

ent

(n

= 313)

171 (54.6%)

142 (45.4%)

A Single Parent (n =

1977)

943 (47.7%)

1034 (52.3%)

6348 (60.8%)

1236

(11.8%)

795 (7.6%)

802 (7.7%)

648 (6.2%)

133 (1.3%)

201 (1.9%)

266 (2.5%)

4783 (70.3%)

315 (4.6%)

478 (7.0%)

462 (6.8%)

459 (6.7%)

80 (1.2%)

71 (.1.0%)

155 (2.3%)

215 (68.7%)

28 (8.9%)

23 (7.3%)

17 (5.4%)

4 (1.3%)

3 (1.0%)

11 (3.5%)

12 (3.8%)

790 (40.0%)

658 (33.3%)

174 (8.8%)

171 (8.6%)

47 (2.4%)

26 (1.3%)

53 (2.7%)

57 (2.9%)

200 (1.9%)

539 (5.2%)

2475 (23.7%)

541 (5.2%)

2795 (26.8%)

2002 (19.2%)

263 (2.5%)

823 (7.9%)

513 (4.9%)

92 (1.4%)

177 (2.6%)

1252 (18.4%)

349 (5.1%)

1846 (27.1%)

1673 (24.6%)

215 (3.2%)

729 (10.7%)

474 (7.0%)

0 (0.0%)

10 (3.2%)

99 (31.6%)

22 (7.0%)

119 (38.0%)

42 (13.4%)

7 (2.2%)

9 (2.9%)

5 (1.6%)

80 (4.0%)

265 (13.4%)

747 (37.8%)

118 (6.0%)

536 (27.1%)

156 (7.9%)

26 (1.3%)

38 (1.9%)

11 (.6%)

Other ( n =

791)

410 (51.8%)

381 (48.2%)

374 (47.3%)

120 (15.2%)

85 (10.7%)

88 (11.1%)

39 (4.9%)

16 (2%)

38 (4.8%)

30 (3.8%)

15 (1.9%)

52 (6.6%)

290 (36.7%)

40 (5.1%)

223 (28.2%)

100 (12.6%)

11 (1.4%)

41 (5.2%)

19 (2.4%)

SES

1 s ` Quintile 2 ns Quintile 3` s Quintile 4 th Quintile

5 th Quintile

1283 (12.3%)

1778 (17.0%)

2008 (19.2%)

2108 (20.2%)

2568 (24.6%)

408 (6.0%)

960 (14.1%)

1352 (19.9%)

1645 (24.2%)

2214 (32.5%)

26 (8.3%)

75 (24.0%)

94 (30.0%)

68 (21.7%)

32 (10.2%)

601 (30.4%)

447 (22.6%)

358 (18.1%)

231 (11.7%)

187 (9.5%)

152 (19.2%)

212 (26.8%)

158 (20%)

120 (15.2%)

104 (13.1%)

Missing (n

=553)

283 (51.2%)

270 (48.8%)

186 (33.6%)

115 (20.8%)

35 (6.3%)

64 (11.6%)

99 (17.9%)

8 (1.4%)

28 (5.1%)

12 (2.2%)

13 (2.4%)

35 (6.3%)

87 (15.7%)

12 (2.2%)

71 (12.8%)

31 (5.6%)

4 (.7%)

6 (1.1%)

4 (.7%)

96 (17.4%)

84 (15.2%)

46 (8.3%)

44 (8%)

31 (5.6%)

64

Table 123

Descriptives: Math Change Score and Indicator Variables-Social Capital

 

Entire

Marrie

A

A

Other

Analyti

d

Married

Singl

cal

Biologi

Steppar

e

S

l

l

t

P

Math Change

M = 80.40

M = 82.56

M= 79.99

M= 75.65

M= 76.16

(SD

(SD =14.69)

(SD

(SD

(SD =

Indicator Variables: Social Capital

 

Parent

C

School t

t

d

No

4803

3285 (46.3%)

141

984 (48.2%)

393

Yes

5494

3804 (53.6%)

176

1055

459

Parent Attended

 

Open House

No

2439

1310 (18.5%)

96 (30.3%)

749 (36.7%)

284

Yes

7846

5771 (81.4%)

221

1287

567

Parent Attended

 

Parent-

 

Conference

 

No

1397

794 (11.2%)

48 (15.1%)

427 (20.9%)

128

Yes

8899

6295 (88.8%)

269

1611 (79%)

724

Parent

Volunteered at

 

School

 

No

4937

2844 (40.1%)

170

1389

534

Yes

5358

4244 (59.9%)

147

649 (31.8%)

318

Number of

 

M = 2.56

M = 2.89

M= 1.73

M= 1.81

M= 1.95

Parents of

(SD = 3.19)

(SD = 3.32)

(SD = 2.45)

(SD = 2.80)

(SD =

Child's Friend

 

Parent Talks to

Regularly

 

65

Table 124

Descriptives: Math and Reading Change Score and Indicator Variable-Social Capital using Sample Weights

 

Entire

Married

A Married

A Single

Other

Analytical

Biological

Stepparent

Parent

Sample

Parents

Math Change

M = 79.03

M = 81.74

M = 80.87

M = 74.87

M = 74.62

(SD

(SD =15.81)

(SD

(SD

(SD =17.12)

=16.62)

=14.59)

=17.12)

Reading

M = 97.78

M = 100.82

M = 101.47

M = 92.72

M = 94.17

(SD

(SD

(SD

(SD

(SD =19.68)

Indicator Variable: Social Capital

 

Math Change

Number of

M = 2.14

M = 2.46

M= 1.63

M= 1.60

M= 1.61

Parents of

(SD =

(SD =2.92)

(SD

(SD

(SD =2.36)

Child's Friend

Parent Talks to

Regularly

Reading

Change

Number of

M = 2.13

M = 2.47

M =1.60

M = 1.58

M = 1.58

Parents of

(SD

(SD =2.90)

(SD

(SD

(SD =2.38)

Child's Friend

Parent Talks to

Regularly

66

Table 125

Descriptives: Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables-Social Capital

 

Entire

Marrie

A

A

Other

Analyti

d

Married

Singl

cal

Biologi

Steppar

e

Reading

 

M = 99.41

M = 101.88

M = 99.89

M = 94.07

M = 95.14

Ch

 

(SD =18.83)

(SD

(SD

(SD

(SD = 19.03)

Indicator Variables: Social Capital

 

Parent

 

C

t

t

d

School

 

No

4545

3107

138

944 (47.7%)

356 (45%)

Yes

5340

3698

175

1032

435 (55%)

Parent Attended

 

Open House

No

2255

1190

93 (29.7%)

720 (36.4%)

252 (31.9%)

Yes

7619 (73%)

5608

220

1253

538 (68%)

Parent Attended

 

Parent-

 

Conference

 

No

1312

737 (10.8%)

46 (14.7%)

412 (20.8%)

117 (14.8%)

Yes

8573

6069

267

1563

674 (85.2%)

Parent

 

Volunteered at

 

School

 

No

4614

2625

167

1335

487 (61.6%)

Yes

5269 (50.5%

4179

146

640 (32.4%)

304 (38.4%)

Number of

 

M = 2.56

M = 2.90

M= 1.69

M= 1.79

M= 1.95

Parents of

(SD = 3.19)

(SD = 3.32)

(SD =

(SD = 2.78)

(SD = 2.73)

Child's Friend

 

Parent Talks

Regularly

Table 126

Descriptives: Math Change Score and Indicator Variables: Resource Capital

Entire

Married

A Married

A Single

Other

Analytical

Biological

Stepparent

Parent

Sample Visited Library in Past Month

Parents

 

No

4655

2976 (42%)

173

1079

427 (50.1%)

Yes

5635

4109

144

958

(47%)

424 (49.8%)

(51.8%)

(57.9%)

(45.4%)

 

Child has Home Computer

 

No

4369

2372

154

1328

515 (60.4%)

Yes

5923

4716

162

711

(34.9%)

334 (39.2%)

(54.4%)

(66.5%)

(51.1%)

 

Child Looked at Picture Books in the Past Week

 

Never

203 (2.1%)

120 (1.7%)

5 (1.6%)

41 (2%)

26 (3.1%)

Once or Twice

1529

874 (12.3%)

45 (14.2%)

391

160 (18.8%)

3-6 Times

3019

2114

95 (30%)

533

205 (24.1%)

Every Day

4791

3323

137

845

358 (42%)

(50.2%)

(46.9%)

(43.2%)

(41.4%)

Child Read or Pretended to Read in the Past Week

 

Never

982 (9.5%)

666 (9.4%)

28 (8.8%)

205 (10%)

83 (9.7%)

Once or Twice

2151

1417 (20%)

68 (21.5%)

463

203 (23.8%)

3-6 Times

3039

2177

95 (30%)

535

232 (27.2%)

Every Day

4106

2819

124

832

331 (38.8%)

39 9%

39

8%

39

1%

40

8%

Parent Read Books to Child in the Past Week

 

Never

108 (1.1%)

51 (.7%)

3 (.9%)

33 (1.6%)

 

13 (1.5%)

Once or Twice

16

(17.0%

867 (12.2%)

48(15.1%)

4

(22.9

1

(20.7%)

3-6 Times

34

(36.0%

2393

115

5

(29.1

2

(28.6%)

Every Day

43

(45.9%

3130

116

7

(35.2

3

(37.2%)

83

44

1%

36

6%

1

%

1

68

Table 127

Descriptives: Reading Change Score and Indicator Variables-Resource Capital

Entire

Married

A Married

A Single

Other

Analytical

Biological

Stepparent

Parent

Sample

Parents

Visited Library in Past Month

No

Yes

4386

5492

(52.6%)

Child has Home Computer

No

Yes

3998

5882

(56.3%)

2786

4015 (59%)

170

143

(45.7%)

2120

4684

(68.8%)

150

162

(51.8%)

1036

938

(47.4%)

1270

706

(35.7%)

Child Looked at Picture Books in the Past Week

394 (49.8%)

396

(50.1%)

458 (57.9%)

330

(41.7%)

Never

Once or Twice

3-6 Times

Every Day

171 (1.9%)

1404

2927

4675

(50.9%)

102 (1.5%)

785 (11.5%)

2049

3247

(47.7%)

Child Read or Pretended to Read in the Past Week

Never

Once or Twice

3-6 Times

Every Day

926 (9.4%)

2053

2930

3957

(40.1%)

628 (9.2%)

1355

2098

2714

(39.9%)

Parent Read Books to Child in the Past Week

4 (1.3%)

44(14.1%)

95 (30.4%)

135

(43.1%)

39 (2%)

373

520

827

(41.8%)

18 (2.3%)

143 (18.1%)

195 (24.7%)

340

(43%)

27 (8.6%)

67 (21.4%)

95 (30.4%)

122 (39%)

198 (10%)

447

518

809

(40.9%)

73 (9.2%)

184 (23.3%)

219 (27.7%)

312

(39.4%)

Never

Once or Twice

3-6 Times

Every Day

82 (1%)

1494

3343

4273

46 5%

37 (.5%)

777 (11.4%)

2322

3057

44 9%

2 (.6%)

47 (15%)

114

115

36 7%

29 (1.5%)

449

581

702

35

5%

7 (.9%)

154 (19.5%)

236 (29.8%)

300 (37.9%)

69

Table 128

Table 129

Regression of Parent Indicator Variables-Social and Resource Capital-on Reading and Math Change Scores

Indicator Variables

Standardized 13

on Children's

Reading

Social Capital

Contacted School

Change

-.022* S

Attended Open House

-.001

Attended a Parent/Teacher Conference

-.021*

Acted as a School Volunteer

.041*

How many parents of their child's friends they talk to regularly

.019

Resource Capital

Parent and Child Visited the Library

.012

Child has a Home Computer

.045*

Reads to Child Once or Twice a Week

.068

Reads to Child 3 to 6 Times a Week

.144*

Reads to Child Everyday

.093

Reads Picture Books Once or Twice a Week

.051*

Reads Picture Books 3 to 6 Times a Week

.009

Reads Picture Books Everyday

.009

Reads Outside of School Once or Twice a Week

.017

Reads Outside of School 3 to 6 Times a Week

.029

Reads Outside of School Everyday

.069*

Parent Education

Has a High School Diploma

.059*

Has Some College

.148*

Has a Bachelor's Degree

.182*

Has an Educational Equivalent Beyond a

.173*

Bachelor's Degree

Socioeconomic Status

Second Quintile

.069*

Third Quintile

.080*

Fourth Quintile

.103*

Fifth Quintile

.102*

Gender

Males

-.023*

Race

Black

-.142*

Hispanic

-.015

Asian

-.008

Other Race

-.036*

Standardized r3

on Children's

Math

Change

Scores

-.038*

-.001

-.031*