School-Related Experiences of Adolescents in Foster Care: A Comparison With Their High-School Peers

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Although adolescents in foster care are known to be more at risk for school-related academic challenges, there is a paucity of research on their school-related experiences, such as victimization and relationships with teachers, compared with their same-age peers not in care. The aim of this article is to compare foster-care adolescents and their schoolmates on data that was drawn from the statewide representative California Healthy Kids survey and includes 165,815 nonfoster youth and 706 foster youth in 9th and 11th grades. Findings indicate a consistent pattern: After controlling for age, gender and race, adolescents in foster care have lower (self-reported) academic achievements and experiences that are more negative in school compared with their peers. However, hierarchical regression equations indicate that after controlling for background and school experiences, there were no significant differences in academic achievements between foster care youth and their high school peers. This finding may reflect that in-school experiences are responsible for many of the more negative academic outcomes experienced by foster youth.

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