Despite numerous studies on parental involvement in children's academic schooling, there is a dearth of knowledge on how parents respond specifically to inadequate academic performance. This study examines whether (1) racial differences exist in parenting philosophy for addressing inadequate achievement, (2) social class has implications for parenting philosophy, and (3) parents’ philosophies are consequential for children's academic achievement.


Using data from the Child Development Supplement (N = 1,041) to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we sort parents into two categories—those whose parenting repertoires for addressing poor achievement include punitive responses and those whose repertoires do not. We then determine whether racial differences exist between these categories and how various responses within the aforementioned categories are related to students’ academic achievement.


The findings show that white and black parents have markedly different philosophies on how to respond to inadequate performance, and these differences appear to impact children's achievement in dramatically different ways.


Educators and policymakers should pay particular attention to how parents respond to inadequate achievement as imploring parents of inadequately performing students to be more involved without providing them with some guidance might exacerbate the problem.