Puerto Rican youth "at risk": Impact of ethnic identity and self-esteem on academic success

Julio Rosario, Pace University


This project examined the relationship between individual, family, and school-related risk factors, global ethnic identity and global self-esteem among 83 Puerto Rican and Non-Puerto Rican Hispanic eighth graders. These adolescents have been identified by the research literature as being “at risk” for academic problems and possible school drop-out. The project also examined the relationship between these risk factors, global ethnic identity and global self-esteem on academic success. Participants came from 6 intermediate schools in 4 school districts identified as largely Hispanic. They were administered a packet of three survey questionnaires, consisting of (1) a Background Questionnaire, (2) The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) (Phinney, 1992), and (3) the Self-Esteem Index (SEI) (Brown & Alexander, 1991). Academic success was operationalized as students' citywide reading and mathematics (NCE) scores in the California Achievement Test-Reading (CTB-R) and the California Achievement Test-5th edition (CAT-5) (New York City Board of Education, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment, 1997). These data were obtained through a review of participants' cumulative records. Results indicated that though participants identified strongly with their individual Hispanic subgroups, the differences between groups in global ethnic identity and global self-esteem were not significant. Single-parent female-headed households have been identified as a significant risk factor for academic failure: there were, however, no differences in ethnic identity or self-esteem between adolescents living in single-parent female-headed households and those living in intact families. There were no significant differences between the two groups in reading or mathematics scores. However, there were significant differences in reading and mathematics scores between those students in general education programs and those in bilingual programs. Findings suggested that though educational goals were significantly associated with higher reading scores they were not associated with higher mathematics scores. A sense of academic competence was significantly associated with higher mathematics abilities but not with higher reading scores.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Educational psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Developmental psychology|Personality

Recommended Citation

Rosario, Julio, "Puerto Rican youth "at risk": Impact of ethnic identity and self-esteem on academic success" (1999). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9926086.



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