ERIC Number: ED282100
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Apr
Reference Count: 0
The Adult Educational and Occupational Status of Chronic High School Underachievers. Preliminary Summary Report.
McCall, Robert B.; Evahn, Cynthia
Underachievers (N = 649) were defined to be those in a sample of 6,729 high school students whose grades were in the lowest 15 percent relative to what one would predict on the basis of standardized tests of mental performance. They were compared on demographic and personal-social variables during high school and educational and occupational attainment 13 years after high school with students who had the same mental ability but appropriate grades and with students who had the same grades but appropriate mental ability. During high school, underachievers as a group were essentially identical to students who got the same grades, not to those who had the same mental ability, with respect to a variety of demographic and personal-social factors. Similarly, in the 13 years following high school, underachievers pursued further schooling and took jobs consistent with their grades, not with their abilities. In fact, underachievers had a substantially lower likelihood of completing four years of college and a greater likelihood of divorce than did non-underachieving students matched either for grades or ability. Some underachievers ultimately did catch up to their abilities--those who, as high school students, had high educational and occupational expectancies, who had high self-esteem and perceived competence, who participated in activities (especially females), and whose parents were well educated. But not all such underachievers caught up. For example, serious underachievers of medium and high mental ability did not catch up. They attained very little relative to other groups. Students from less educated families were less likely to achieve levels commensurate with their ability than students from better educated families. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Boys Town, NE.; Grant (W.T.) Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Washington, DC, April 24, 1987).