The Effects of Divorce and Remarriage on the Academic Achievement of High School Seniors

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Temple University Libraries]On: 15 November 2014, At: 06:39Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK</p><p>Journal of Divorce &amp;RemarriagePublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:</p><p>The Effects of Divorce andRemarriage on the AcademicAchievement of High SchoolSeniorsBarry D. Ham PhD a ba University of Colorado , Colorado Springs, USAb Colorado Christian University , USAPublished online: 04 Oct 2008.</p><p>To cite this article: Barry D. Ham PhD (2004) The Effects of Divorce and Remarriageon the Academic Achievement of High School Seniors, Journal of Divorce &amp;Remarriage, 42:1-2, 159-178, DOI: 10.1300/J087v42n01_08</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for anylosses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.</p><p></p></li><li><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan,sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone isexpressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tem</p><p>ple </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ries</p><p>] at</p><p> 06:</p><p>39 1</p><p>5 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p><p></p></li><li><p>The Effects of Divorce and Remarriageon the Academic Achievement</p><p>of High School Seniors</p><p>Barry D. Ham</p><p>ABSTRACT. Divorce and remarriage rates in the United States haveclimbed at an astounding rate during the past several decades. Conse-quences of this change in family structure have impacted millions ofchildren in a variety of ways. This study assessed the impact of divorceand remarriage in relation to students academic achievement. Two hy-potheses were introduced reflecting expectations suggested by previ-ous studies. High school seniors from a middle class school in a RockyMountain State served as the population for this study. The results sug-gest that family structure impacts both the grade point average and at-tendance of high school students. Adolescents from intact families out-perform students from other family structures. The differences betweenstudents from single-parent families and remarried families were lessclear. However, what was clear was that results were most pronounced forfemales. Females were more negatively impacted by family structures re-sulting from divorce and remarriage than were males. [Article copies avail-able for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH.E-mail address: Website: 2004 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.]</p><p>Barry D. Ham, PhD, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practicein Colorado Springs, CO. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at The University of Col-orado, Colorado Springs, and Colorado Christian University. He also works with theAcademy School District.</p><p>Address correspondence to: Barry D. Ham, PO Box 63241, Colorado Springs, CO80962.</p><p>Journal of Divorce &amp; Remarriage, Vol. 42(1/2) 2004</p><p> 2004 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.Digital Object Identifier: 10.1300/J087v42n01_08 159</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tem</p><p>ple </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ries</p><p>] at</p><p> 06:</p><p>39 1</p><p>5 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>KEYWORDS. Divorce, intact-family, remarriage, single-parent fam-ily, academic-achievement, family-structure, attendance, gender, highschool students</p><p>INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND</p><p>During the early 1960s, nearly 90% of children lived their first 18years in homes with two biological, married parents (Hetherington &amp;Stanley-Hagan, 1999). However, during the past 40 years, that percent-age has diminished at an alarming rate. By 1995, it has been reported,18.9 million children under the age of 18 lived with one parent (Sin-gle-parent kids, 1997). This reflects the fact that 45% of all first mar-riages in the United States result in divorce within 14 years (Lamb,Sternberg, &amp; Thompson, 1997).</p><p>The current status of divorce is relatively new. Not that long ago di-vorce was rare and unacceptable in society. In the 1920s, approximately100 women per thousand married each year. The divorce rate at thattime was about 10 per thousand. However, the picture changed dramati-cally over the next 70 years. By 1990, the first marriage rate of womenhad actually dropped to about 80 per thousand each year, while the di-vorce rate had increased to 40 per thousand (Shiono &amp; Quinn, 1994). Inother words, the number of women getting married for the first time haddecreased by 20%; yet, the divorce rate had increased by 300%.</p><p>Looking back even further, approximately 5% of marriages in theUnited States ended in divorce just after the Civil War. This increased to10% by the 1920s (as shown above), to 36% of 1964, and to 50% by1990 (Furstenberg, 1994). Furstenberg refers to this extraordinary in-crease in the divorce rate as being a result of the divorce revolution.From 1865 to 1990, a span of only 125 years, the divorce rate in thiscountry increased by 900%.</p><p>According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, in one ofevery seven weddings, either the bride or groom, or both are making atleast a third trip down the aisle (Multiple marriages, 1997). The centeralso reports that almost 25% of all marriages are the second time aroundfor either the bride or groom. Two-thirds of women that divorce eventu-ally remarry and most consider having additional children (A profile,1996). Of these second and third marriages, failure rates are even higherthan they are for first marriages and typically end two years sooner thanfirst marriages do (Multiple marriages, 1997). The increased failureof remarriages leads many children to experience a series of changes in</p><p>160 JOURNAL OF DIVORCE &amp; REMARRIAGE</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tem</p><p>ple </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ries</p><p>] at</p><p> 06:</p><p>39 1</p><p>5 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>family structures and expectations. Of these children from divorce, 40%will not have seen their father in the past year (Waldman, 1996).</p><p>This seemingly unabated rise in the number of children from di-vorced households and blended families generates concern among edu-cators, mental health professionals, researchers, and society as a whole.With schools and teachers faulted for lower test scores and grades bystudents, one wonders what role changes in family structure may play inthese academic measures. If the rising divorce and remarriage rateshave an impact upon student academic achievement, then parents andeducators both may need to reexamine their roles in meeting the needsof these students.</p><p>Divorce affects children and adolescents in a variety of ways. Onearea that is of particular interest to this study is academic achievement.Numerous studies have observed that children from divorced familiesare impacted negatively in relationship to school performance. Frum(1996) stated that children who are raised with only one of their biologi-cal parents are twice as likely to drop out of school than are childrenfrom two-parent families. He also noted that these children demonstratepoorer school attendance and are less likely to attend college.</p><p>McManus (1993) emphatically states:</p><p>Compared to an American child, a Japanese child is four timesmore likely to be reared by both parents, according to the U.S.Census Bureau. The stability of Japanese families and the chaos ofAmerican families is a major reason that Japanese students are somuch more successful in school than are American childrenand amajor reason for the success of the Japanese economy. (pp. 27-28)</p><p>Jeynes (1997) concludes in his research that there is a parallel be-tween the divorce rate in the U.S. and what has been perceived as the de-cline of education. He clearly states:</p><p>There has been a great deal of public criticism of the public schoolsystem due largely to: (1) declining standardized test scores duringthe 1963-1980 period; (2) consistently poor performances on in-ternational comparison tests; and (3) soaring rates of juvenilecrime in the schools. The tendency has often been for the public toblame the schools for these problems. And certainly, the schoolsdeserve some portion of the blame. But the results of this studycontribute some credence to the notion that the decreasing percent-age of children coming from intact families exerts a downward</p><p>Barry D. Ham 161</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tem</p><p>ple </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ries</p><p>] at</p><p> 06:</p><p>39 1</p><p>5 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>pressure on the average academic achievement of American chil-dren. It is probably far more than coincidence that the U.S. divorcerate which had been in a slow decline during the 1948-1962 pe-riod, rose sharply in 1963 and continued to rise sharply after thatduring almost exactly the same period as the standardized testscore decline. (pp. 226-227)</p><p>Jeynes (1997) concluded in his research, using data from the Na-tional Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), that the further a familystructure was from the intact two-part family, the more negative an im-pact that the family structure had on academic achievement (pg. 225).</p><p>Using the same NELS data, Pong and Ju (2000), reported that highschool dropout rates were significantly lower for students who residedwith both parents than for adolescents of single parents. Interestingly,they discovered that any disruption to the two-parent family increasedthe odds of dropping out. It didnt matter whether the child was movingfrom an intact family to a mother-only family, a father-only family, astep-family, or a guardian family. The dropout rate was approximatelydouble for any student in a family type other than an intact, two-parentfamily.</p><p>Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLYS),two different studies (Wojtkiewicz, 1993; Sandefur, McLanahan, &amp;Wojtkiewicz, 1992) took particular interest in the living arrangementsof these individuals from birth to the age of 19. What they discoveredwas significant. Any child who lived in a non-intact family, during anyyear of that time, experienced a decreased chance of graduation.</p><p>Two arguments are consistently made for the benefits of remarriage.The strongest one is financial. Following a divorce, both parties, espe-cially the mother, will experience a decrease in income (Teachman &amp;Paasch, 1994). The loss of income can have a tremendous effect on ev-erything from the ability to purchase educational resources to determin-ing in what neighborhood a family will reside. Maternal remarriage hasbeen thought to solve the problem of the loss of socioeconomic status(SES). The income of a new husband (or new wife) will compensate forwhat was lost when the ex-spouse was removed from the financial pic-ture. Indeed, if the SES is the real reason for a students academic de-cline, then this should hold true. However, the research in this area doesnot bear this out (Jeynes, 1998). Secondly, there is the argument that astepparent will provide a replacement role model in the home. This newparent can also help with household and parenting responsibilities. Thenew parent will help to fill a void.</p><p>162 JOURNAL OF DIVORCE &amp; REMARRIAGE</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tem</p><p>ple </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ries</p><p>] at</p><p> 06:</p><p>39 1</p><p>5 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>Earlier in this review, a study by Jeynes analyzed the data from theNELS. Within that study he also examined the effects of reconstitutedfamilies on adolescent academics. He found that children from thesefamilies performed no better than did children from single-parenthouseholds (Jeynes, June, 1999; Jeynes, 1998). While the addition ofanother persons income should certainly help a familys financial situ-ation, it would appear that there are other factors at work besides justdollars. The effect of increased SES is apparently negated by other dy-namics. This may be the result of the psychological distress of living ina home with only one biological parent and having the introduction of astepparent into the home. This can present new stressors: turf issues,loyalty issues between the natural parent and the child, new expecta-tions, and other complications in adjustment. Jeynes points out that insome cases children from single-parent families actually outperformthose from reconstituted families, when it comes to academic achieve-ment.</p><p>One final study is mentioned in this section regarding school perfor-mance. In discussing school performance, some researchers reportachievement by examining the scores from standardized achievementtests, while others report school grades. Smith (1995) stated that themethod used makes a difference. He contends that family structure andparental involvement would have a greater effect upon school gradesthan upon standardized achievement. Grades seemed to be more influ-enced by effort, parental availability, and other social factors than stan-dardized scores. He analyzed data from 1,688 seventh and ninth gradersfrom 14 public schools in Columbia, South Carolina. His research re-sults supported his hypothesis. He found that the grades of childrenfrom divorced families were negatively impacted much more than theywere for children from stable intact families. However, the differencesin standardized scores were much smaller. This is an important differ-ence in accurately measuring the effect of divorce on educational per-formance. Using this study as a foundation, this writers own researchwill examine school grades as opposed to achievement test scores.</p><p>The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship betweenremarriage and the academic achievement of adolescents. This studywill include an examination of the grade point averages (GPAs) of highschool seniors from intact, single-parent, and reconstituted families.The research will also include a review of the attendance of these samestudents. As the results of this study are analyzed, differences will beexamined in relation to student gender and ethnicity.</p><p>Barry D. Ham 163</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tem</p><p>ple </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>i...</p></li></ul>


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