Environment, self, and high school completion: A structural equation modeling approach
Polydore, Catherine L.
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Recent reports have shown that the United States continues to fall short of achieving it educational goals set forth in the Goal 2000: Educate America Act signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 which set a high school graduation rate goal of 90% by 2000. However, in 2000, 27.8% of Hispanics, 13.1% of Blacks, and 6.9% of Whites dropped out of high school. Not only does the United States fail to meet its national goals, but on the global scene, the United States lagged behind Germany and Japan in high school graduation rates for young adults between the ages of 25-34. Although many investigations have acknowledged the importance of the environmental context when examining educational outcomes mass exodus from Skinner’s assertion that “A person does not act upon the world, the world acts him” has resulted in an explosion of perception related research in the literature. While it is agreed that “social address” variables on their own do not adequately explain the complexities of educational dynamics, the author believed that the complete abandonment of one thought in preference to another can result in the lost of key components that can assist in finding enduring solutions to the array of problems with which the education community is faced. The general purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among chosen environmental factors and personal factors on high school completion on a national sample of young adults. A secondary purpose of the study was to test the plausibility of a hypothesized high school completion model. The final purpose of the study was to develop a model of high school completion among young adults. A combination of descriptive analysis, logistic regression analysis and structural equation modeling were employed to answer two research questions. Results indicated that there was acombination of the variables that could satisfactorily predict high school completion. In addition, the proposed model, with a minor modification, provided an adequate fit for the data. Furthermore, five findings were noteworthy: 1)the environment was an important determinant of a young adult’s high school completion status, 2) the environment impacts personal and self factors, more so than personal and self factors impact the environment, 3) socioeconomic status played an important role in determining academic outcomes, 4) locus of control beliefs and self-concept were important components of the self-system with locus of control beliefs being a more significant component than self-concept, and they can be reliably utilized as measure of personal factors; and 5) school climate was an important component of environment. Implications for education and future research were also addressed.