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Dev Psychol. 2012 Mar;48(2):422-8. doi: 10.1037/a0025939. Epub 2011 Dec 19.

Identifying the necessary and sufficient number of risk factors for predicting academic failure.

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Department of Child and Family Studies, Louis de Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, and Harrell Center, Department of Community and Family Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


Identifying the point at which individuals become at risk for academic failure (grade point average [GPA] < 2.0) involves an understanding of which and how many factors contribute to poor outcomes. School-related factors appear to be among the many factors that significantly impact academic success or failure. This study focused on 12 school-related factors. Using a thorough 5-step process, we identified which unique risk factors place one at risk for academic failure. Academic engagement, academic expectations, academic self-efficacy, homework completion, school relevance, school safety, teacher relationships (positive relationship), grade retention, school mobility, and school misbehaviors (negative relationship) were uniquely related to GPA even after controlling for all relevant covariates. Next, a receiver operating characteristic curve was used to determine a cutoff point for determining how many risk factors predict academic failure (GPA < 2.0). Results yielded a cutoff point of 2 risk factors for predicting academic failure, which provides a way for early identification of individuals who are at risk. Further implications of these findings are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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