Articles & Special Issues Child & Youth Well-being

Substance Use and Academic Performance Among African American High School Students

Academic performance among African American students continues to be a concern. Adolescent developmental research has identified numerous factors that affect academic performance. School-based intervention programs have focused on substance use prevention to improve academic performance. This study investigated to what extent family financial concerns, individual and parental norms, and substance use are associated with academic performance among a sample of 212 African American students attending an urban high school located in the midwestern United States. The student body was 99% African American, with approximately equal numbers of boys and girls. The results indicated that marijuana use, parental substance use norms, and family financial concerns were associated with students’ academic intentions. Grade point average was associated with both marijuana use and parental substance use norms. These results highlight the importance of family-related correlates in addition to substance use when investigating academic performance among African American students.

Project: Choices of Life for Adolescence Success (CLASS) Project


Williams, J. H., Davis, L. E., Johnson, S. D., Williams Shanks, T. R., Saunders, J. A., & Nebbitt, V. E. (2007). Substance use and academic performance among African American high school students. Social Work Research, 31(3), 151–161. doi:10.1093/swr/31.3.151