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Promoting Postsecondary Education in Low-Income Youth: The Moderating Role of Socio-Behavioral and Academic Skills in the Context of a Major Educational Reform.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence  (IF4.381),  Pub Date : 2021-11-29, DOI: 10.1007/s10964-021-01541-w
Marie-Hélène Véronneau,Lisa A Serbin,Kathleen Kennedy-Turner,Dale M Stack,Jane E Ledingham,Alex E Schwartzman

Governments around the world are pressed to invest in postsecondary education. However, little research exists to document whether large-scale educational reforms aimed at increasing rates of postsecondary attendance benefit youth's developmental outcomes. This study tested whether an educational reform occurring in Québec, Canada, in the 1960s increased educational levels, and whether it benefitted some youth more than others. In the 1970's, 4109 low-income youth (50% females) aged 7-13 years old were recruited at Time 1 from first, fourth, and seventh grade classes (Mage = 10.6, SD = 2.5). Socio-behavioral characteristics and academic skills at Time 1 were examined as predictors of educational attainment at Time 2, three decades later, on 3883 of the same participants. Multinomial logistic regressions were used to examine the likelihood of youth obtaining a diploma from the newly created, accessible, and affordable colleges ("cégeps"). Low-educated groups (high school dropouts and high school graduates) presented a higher early risk profile than did college graduates. Interactions revealed that social withdrawal protected youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods, helping them graduate from college. Likeability helped academically weaker girls go beyond college and access university, and helped academically competent boys graduate from college. Aggressive behavior decreased the odds of university attendance for academically competent boys. Policies promoting higher education for disadvantaged youth should be supplemented with early interventions integrating academic and socio-behavioral objectives.