To Punish or not to Punish?: Parental Responses to Inadequate Achievement

Keith D. Robinson, University of Texas at Austin
Angel L Harris, Princeton University

Despite numerous studies on parental involvement in children’s academic schooling, there is a dearth of knowledge on how parents respond specifically to inadequate academic performance. In this study we assess the degree of racial variation in (1) parents’ likely response to inadequate academic achievement and (2) the effect of parents’ responses on children’s achievement. Using data from the Child Development Supplement (N=1041) to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we find that White and Black parents differ markedly in the ways they are likely to respond to inadequate academic performance. Our findings are provocative and reveal that parents whose children are most in need of academic improvement respond to inadequate achievement in ways that exacerbate the problem.

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Presented in Session 89: Race and Gender Gaps in Educational Attainment