Family structure and its effects on academic achievement

Wayne Thomas Coward, Tennessee State University


This study examined how the adolescent family structure affects the academic achievement of students at the secondary level of education, and was intended to provide administrators and other educators some insight to why students, both male and female, from particular family structures, perform at different academic levels. It does not answer all of the questions associated with variances in academic performance levels of students, but it will provide administrators and other educators clues to the effects family structure may have and roles it may play in the academic achievement of a child. This study was limited to secondary level students at Blackman High School, Holloway High School, La Vergne High School, Riverdale High School, and Smyrna High School in Rutherford County, Tennessee. The students were grouped into five family structures identified as sophomores, juniors, and seniors from two-natural-birth parent families, separated/divorced families, single parent families, stepparent families, and adoptive/foster/relative families. The study showed that most students lived in a family where the two-natural-birth parents were married and living together and performed at a higher academic level than other fancily structures, and academic achievement level of students declined as the family structure tended away from natural parents or included outside people. This study proposed that having an understanding of external environments of present students, administrators and other educators can educate themselves to prepare for the future.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Educational sociology|School administration

Recommended Citation

Wayne Thomas Coward, "Family structure and its effects on academic achievement" (2001). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3024616.