The Relationship Between Parent and Teacher Perceptions and the Academic Success of Homeless Youth

Theresa Lafavor, Sara E. Langworthy, Schevita Persaud, Amanda W. Kalstabakken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Homeless and highly mobile (HHM) students experience early, persistent, and widening academic gaps across years of schooling. Behavioral regulation, critical in academic functioning, is related to parent and teacher perceptions of competence and engagement. Research demonstrates teachers report low-income children and children of color to have less self-regulation and report lower achievement expectations. Objective: The current study examined the relationship between parent and teacher perceived behavioral regulation and academic engagement and competence in understanding the achievement of 9–11-year-old HHM youth living in emergency housing. Method: The current study used objective measures of child cognitive and academic ability, and subjective parent and teacher report of child behavior and academic competence and engagement (N = 86 parent–child dyads and 48 teachers; Child: Mage = 10.5 years, 46% female, 86% racial/ethnic minority). Parents and children participated in concurrent sessions in the shelter; teachers completed measures and returned them by mail. Results: Parents reported fewer behavioral problems on the BRIEF and higher perceived academic competence and engagement compared to teacher report. Parent perceived competence was related to both reading and math ability, while teacher perceptions were unrelated to objective testing. Teacher perceived engagement was associated with reading and math ability. Conclusions: This study identifies important disparities between parents’ and teachers’ perceptions of competence and engagement compared to objective measurement of academic ability. Results suggest teachers in the current sample perceive HHM students as less competent and engaged regardless of objective testing. These findings are consistent with existing research among vulnerable students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-468
Number of pages20
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Early adolescence
  • Homeless/highly mobile
  • Perceptions
  • Risk
  • School success

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