The research must be qualified as representing average differences and do not necessarily indicate that all children in divorced families are worse off than all children in intact families. Since there is so much discussion of the effects of divorce on school performance, I want to begin by addressing whether there are really any differences between children who live in divorced families and children who live in married two-parent families (intact). The preponderance of the evidence appears to indicate that divorce does have negative effects on children"s adaptation and academic development. Furthermore, the specific effects differ from family to family.
The argument that divorce has effects on the ability of a child"s academic performance finds support in the case-control study of Children of Divorce: Academic Outcome (Roizblatt et al, 1997). This study focuses on identifying the specific responses that are susceptible for the low academic outcomes, associated with different levels of hostility, aggression, anxiety, and depression that can last until adulthood. To build upon the hypotheses, the authors then examined whether subsequent disadvantages are measured in all aspects of education, from grade points averages to standardized tests to exams/diplomas and years of completed education.
The study was conducted at eight public schools in Santiago, Chile. A total of 446 children were examined where almost half the pupils were found to be of divorced families. The students" results were based on the variables of age, sex, and average marks. In order to provide a means of comparison for the experimental group, the authors had the control group (parents living together) choose names that are on the class list that fulfilled the requirement. The data was analyzed in averages, percentages, estimated odds ratio, and confidence levels.
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The results indicate that children of divorced parents were on average 20% more likely to fail a course than a child of a controlled group. The average marks were also 20% lower for the non-intact children. However, the attendance was almost identical with both being 95 %. In this study, it is obvious that divorce has an impact on a child"s academic performance.
The relationship between intact and divorced children is further investigated in a study (Forehand et al, 1997) of the Cumulative Risks Across Family Stressors: Short and Long Term Effects for Adolescents. Furthermore, it discusses claims made that children from divorced families had their grade point averages, academic achievements, and standardized intelligence test scores decreased during and after the psychosocial adjustment.
The study took place in two assessments, early adolescence and early adulthood. The study recruited for participation through local newspaper advertisements and fliers distributed to schools and posted throughout the local community. Additionally, some divorced families were identified through examination of courthouse records and subsequently contacted by mail or telephone. The families were paid $50 for their participation. Approximately six years after the first assessment, follow up research was conducted in which adults filled out questionnaires.
In order to avoid common-method variance, individuals were assessed by independent sources: adolescent self-report, teacher report, and school records. Letter grades were obtained from math, English, science, and social studies and were assigned numeric values. In the young adult phase, level of education was also taken into consideration. Several risk factors were included to make the results more valid and consistent.
The results of the analysis was shown and expressed through a Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). It showed a significant decrease in level of education completed, grade point averages, and achievement tests for both the adolescents and young adults. The researchers feel that parents" being less available to assist and monitor the children and the conflicts between the parents heavily affects the child and his future. Whereas the article exhibited some weaknesses, it also contained strengths. For example, although only Caucasian people were used, the results did include data from more than one period (adolescence and young adulthood.) The evidence was correct with the authors" prediction, indicating almost exactly what Forehand, Biggar, and Kotchick previously hypothesized.
Further evidence that children of divorce do worse academically can be seen in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997). This survey proved that a divorce during a child"s life affects his or her academic abilities during early schools years and throughout college.
The previous studies provided answers in the controversy over academic standards of children of divorce. However, there is more to the relationship between a child and the academic abilities possessed. Another method of investigating the relationship focuses on the effects of remarriage following divorce on the academic achievement of children. Although there exists considerable consensus among family theorists regarding the negative effects of divorce upon children both psychologically and in terms of academic achievement, the same consensus does not exist regarding the effects of remarriage. However, social scientists have recently accumulated a sizable amount of evidence indicating that remarriage has ill effects on many children.
The journal (Jeyenes et al, 1999), The Effects of Remarriage Following Divorce on the Academic Achievements of Children examines the assumption by educators that parental remarriage benefits children academically. Most educational researchers and theorists have given almost no exhortations to the needs of children of divorce from reconstituted families. The primary reason has been that researchers and Americans, as a whole, believe that parental remarriage generally benefited children. The study included students from the 1988, 1990 and 1992 National Longitudinal Survey data sets that matched students by family structure, race, and socioeconomic status. The project was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education"s National Center for Statistics and designed by the National Opinion Research Center.
The research included 24,599 students from 1052 schools. Questionnaires were given out to the parents, teachers, and students. Furthermore, achievement tests in math, reading, science, and social studies were administered to students. These tests were curriculum based cognitive tests used in overlapping methods to measure academic achievements.
For all the standardized tests, the mean scores for children from divorced, reconstituted families were less than for both children of divorce from single-parent families and children from intact families. When matched for race and socioeconomic status, the differences were not statistically significant. Children living in a divorced, reconstituted family had negative results compared with an intact family. This fact was shown in all four-test measures: lower in math, science, and social studies, but the smallest effect was in the reading test. Contrary to popular misconception, the children of reconstituted families scored lower in all aspects of the tests than children of divorce from single-parent families.
These findings do not support the assumption held by many educators that children of divorce from reconstituted homes are better off than divorced and intact children. Actually, the results support the idea that children of divorce from reconstituted families are at an academic disadvantage versus their counterparts in intact families, and are no better off academically than children of divorce from single-parent families.
To solidify the results of this research another journal similarly argues that the reconstitution of a family shows lower educational attainments. This is the (Jonsson et al, 1997) Journal of Family Dissolution, Family Reconstitution, and Children"s Education. The study is done both longitudinally and cross-sectionally on large and recent Swedish data. It demonstrates that compared to children in intact families, children who have experienced family reconstitution show lower academic and educational attainment.
The journal examines the association between family structure and children"s educational attainment, measured as early school leaving and transition to upper secondary school. The research is done in Sweden, which is a society characterized by a generous and predominantly universal social policy. The respondents started school at age seven and passed through the comprehensive Swedish school system consisting of nine compulsory grades. The data consists of 120,000 cases that were studied for every aspect of a person"s education. The Swedish Commission collected the information on Educational Inequality.
First, the researchers found that children of remarried parents continued at school after the compulsory years less often than did those from other family types. For example, they had an 8% more chance of leaving school and 20% less change of going on to college. These problems are due to both poorer performances in school as measured by lower grade point averages, as well as educational decisions on study programs. Both analyses demonstrated that Swedish children who have experienced family reconstitution show decreased academic proficiencies. The cross-sectional analysis shows that children"s attainment is markedly lower in reconstituted families consisting of two non-married parents than in single parent families. The study consistently reveals educational disadvantages for children from separated and remarried families, as measured by standardized tests, exams/diplomas, grade point average, and years of completed education.
The analysis of the four aforementioned studies reveals much about the effects of divorce and remarriage on a child"s education. It is obvious that children react to a major change in their lives with a plethora of powerful emotions. In both the Roizblatt and Forehand articles, divorce was shown to have a negative impact on grades and test scores throughout a child"s career. However, there are numerous reasons explaining these effects including conflicts, stress, economic losses, and adjustments. In both the Jonsson and Jeynes articles, conclusions stated that remarriage adversely affects a child"s education. However, reconstitution of a family may also have its advantages. Again, the child is faced with problems like not trying or not getting along with the new member of the family. Results show that the majority
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