Racial Identity and Academic Attainment among African American Adolescents

Tabbye M. Chavous, Debra Hilkene Bernat, Karen Schmeelk-Cone, Cleopatra H. Caldwell, Laura Kohn-Wood, Marc A. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

272 Scopus citations


In this study, the relationships between racial identity and academic outcomes for African American adolescents were explored. In examining race beliefs, the study differentiated among (a) importance of race (centrality), (b) group affect (private regard), and (c) perceptions of societal beliefs (public regard) among 606 African American 17-year-old adolescents. Using cluster analysis, profiles of racial identity variables were created, and these profile groups were related to educational beliefs, performance, and later attainment (high school completion and college attendance). Results indicated cluster differences across study outcomes. Also, the relationships between academic attitudes and academic attainment differed across groups. Finally, the paper includes a discussion on the need to consider variation in how minority youth think about group membership in better understanding their academic development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1090
Number of pages15
JournalChild Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Chavous, T. M., Bernat, D. H., Schmeelk-Cone, K., Caldwell, C. H., Kohn-Wood, L., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2003). Racial Identity and Academic Attainment among African American Adolescents. Child Development, 74(4), 1076-1090.