Students At Risk: The Impacts of Self-Efficacy and Risk Factors on Academic Achievement

Candice L. Cooper

Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington


School dropout continues to be a societal and educational concern today. There are various eligibilities which identify students as being at risk for school dropout. This study uses the Educational Longitudinal Survey of 2002 (ELS:2002) and its definition of the term 'at risk' to explore the impacts of varying levels of risk, students self-beliefs, and the level of effort and persistence applied to academic tasks on level of educational attainment by age 26 in at-risk youth. ELS:2002 data is used to select the final study sample (n=4,002). This study demonstrates that the level of risk (i.e., number of at-risk factors identified for the student in grade 10) is disproportionate across socio-demographic categories, and that certain populations are more likely to be at higher risk during high school. Data show that the level of risk affects student self-beliefs. The study findings indicate that socio-demographic factors are good predictor variables for educational attainment. Study findings also indicate that both English self-efficacy and educational expectations have significant impact on attainment outcomes despite the presence of risk and thus could be helping those at higher risk to overcome their at-risk circumstances. Therefore, this study concludes that educators should be aware of the effects of varying levels of risk and student self-beliefs on attainment among at-risk youth. The study findings suggest that these might be important variables to consider when establishing and implementing policies and practices seeking to decrease the likelihood of school dropout and increase educational attainment among at-risk youth.