Student attitudes, aspirations, and academic achievement

Irma R Avila, University of Texas at El Paso


The focus of American education is to prepare all students for entry into the adult world as enlightened, inquisitive participants of our democratic system (Soder, 1996). Academic achievement is particularly important at the secondary school level because entrance into the world of work is imminent for many high school students and obstacles to academic success may prove to be obstacles in the world of work (Mier, 1999; Sizer, 1992). Given the projected increase in the minority student population, the number of minority high school dropouts will increase rather than decrease unless educational leaders and policymakers address issues related to academic success in high school. Therefore, if educators are to provide effective schooling for all segments of the population in the United States, they must focus on and understand the motivating factors behind student success in school and in the world of work. The purpose of this study was to identify the processes used by students to select particular classes, programs, or tracks in school. Additionally, student attitudes and school experiences, peer pressure, academic aspirations, parental involvement in the education process, and student dropout rates were investigated. The public use database of the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 was used for this study. The third follow-up took place in 1994, when most sample members had completed high school. Of particular interest to this researcher were differences in the aforementioned variables that would need to be considered by educators in developing and implementing effective interventions. That is, the extent to which males and females and to which Hispanics, for example, differ in their educational experiences and educational aspirations could translate into differences in educational programming interventions developed to address class repetition and dropouts. Some of the results from this study are that significantly more Hispanic students from the lowest socioeconomic quartile were assigned to vocational academic programs than other students. Also, significantly more White students from the highest socioeconomic quartile were assigned to advanced or college prep programs than other students. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

School administration|Curricula|Teaching|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Avila, Irma R, "Student attitudes, aspirations, and academic achievement" (2002). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3049696.