Individual, Family, and School Factors Indicative of Caring: Predicting High School Graduation for NLTS2 Students with ED
Morris, Thomas Omer
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This study examined data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 (NLTS2) to determine if factors indicative of caring were predictive of high school graduation for students with ED. Selection of NLTS2 variables was guided by resiliency theory, which implies that an individual can successfully adapt to factors that threaten his or her viability; Murray’s (2003) conceptual framework, noting risk and protective factors at the individual, family, school, and community levels; and an extensive review of the literature examining qualities of a caring teacher from the adolescents’ perspective. Selected NLTS2 variables served as the risk and protective factors analyzed for this study. Each factor at the individual, family, and school level was dichotomized so as to represent a risk or protective factor. Factors at the individual level were considered protective if the student identified as having ED; was at or above grade level in reading and math; and had no disciplinary actions, in or out-of-school suspensions, or expulsions for the current school year. Factors at the family level were considered protective if the students’ parents participated in school and class events, attended parent/teacher conferences, and believed the student would graduate with a regular diploma. Factors at the school level were considered protective if the students’ teacher felt prepared to teach students with disabilities; if the teacher valued daily classwork, attitude/behavior, and class participation as a means of evaluating student progress; if mental health services were available at school; if students had little to no trouble getting along with teachers and peers; if students relied on teachers when making important decisions; if students enjoyed school and felt like they belonged; and if students believed an adult at school cared about them. An individual, family, and school composite variable was created and analyzed using binary logistic regression to determine if, after controlling for gender and ethnicity, any of the composites were predictive of high school graduation for NLTS2 students with ED. Protective factors at the individual level were found to be predictive of high school graduation at p = .02, however protective factors at the family and school level were not found to be statistically significant at p = .06 and p = .30 respectively. Descriptive statistics are also provided and discussed for each factor included in the composite.
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