Parental absence and academic achievement in immigrant students

Chrysalis Lamae Wright, Florida International University


Academic achievement and educational expectations as a function of parental absence were examined among 268 newly immigrant elementary, middle, and high-school students from Spanish-speaking countries. Data collected as part of a longitudinal study of adaptation and achievement in newly immigrant students were analyzed. Participants had varying experiences with parental absence, in terms of length of absence, gender of absent parent, and reason for absence. Reasons for parental absence included parental divorce, parental death, and serial migration, a cause unique to immigrant children. Students who experienced parental absence reported lower educational expectations. Students who experienced the death of a parent had lower achievement scores and lower expectations than students who did not experience parental death. Prolonged absence was also important, with students who experienced parental absence for more than one year performing worse than students who had minimal parental separation. In addition, boys who experienced parental absence because of serial migration performed worse academically than boys who did not have this occurrence. Educational expectations were reduced among students who experienced parental absence as a result of the migratory process, especially for younger students. The extent to which parental absence related to achievement and expectations through potential mediating factors, such as economic hardship, perceived school support, and parental school involvement was assessed with structural equation modeling. Overall, the model was able to explain some of the relationship between parental absence and the academic achievement and educational expectations of immigrant students from Spanish-speaking countries.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Developmental psychology|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Wright, Chrysalis Lamae, "Parental absence and academic achievement in immigrant students" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3447794.