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Intelligence. 2007;35(6):526-541.

Socioeconomic Status and School Grades: Placing their Association in Broader Context in a Sample of Biological and Adoptive Families.

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Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.


SES has long interested researchers investigating school achievement. Its effects are often addressed by studying predictors of achievement in economically disadvantaged samples living primarily in biological families, confounding genetic and environmental influences. Little is known about SES's purely environmental effects. We measured them in 617 adoptive and biological families, adjusting for sample restriction of SES range. Controlling for gender, parenting, parental expectations for educational attainment (PEEA), IQ, engagement in school, and genetic and shared environmental influences on sibling pairs, SES still made a small but significant nonshared environmental contribution to school grades. IQ, PEEA, and SES had collinear associations with school grades, as did engagement and parenting. The associations of IQ and engagement with school grades were largely independent of each other. The link between PEEA and IQ was stronger in adoptive than biological offspring. We discuss the implications of these findings.

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