The Contributions of Expectancy-Value Theory and Special Education Status to Reading Achievement of African American Adolescents

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In light of concerns about decreased academic motivation among adolescents and the subsequent lack of achievement, particularly among African American students and those with learning disabilities, this study examined adolescent motivation for academic achievement and future course enrollment intentions. Expectancy-value motivation has been extensively explored with European American adolescents without learning disabilities; the associated constructs of this theory are positively correlated with GPA, classroom-based assessments, and future course enrollment and employment. Limitations of the extant literature included homogeneous samples, limited reliability and validity of academic achievement measures, and a lack of control of extraneous variables. Using exploratory factor analysis and structural equation modeling, I found that the expectancies for success/perceived ability, importance value, and intrinsic value latent factor models of expectancy-value motivation for a sample of urban African American adolescents do not differ from those for their European American peers; however, the constructs themselves have different relationships with the two dependent variables, reading achievement on a standardized assessment and future enrollment intentions. Motivation latent factors did not predict reading achievement when SES, prior achievement, and gender were in the analysis. However, all motivation constructs were significant predictors when enrollment intentions constituted the dependent variable. Additionally, the IEP reading goal variable (learner status) was not a significant predictor of either dependent variable. These results are discussed in light of the limitations of the study. Finally, areas for further research are suggested.