Family Structure and Student Performance at School

When it came to choosing the topic for my thesis I was thinking of looking into the issue that could be related to the students I work with. Having examined the portfolios of the students I found that there is a number of students coming from single-parent families. I have read some articles on the negative influence of single parenthood on students’ performance at school in Western countries. However, there is no research on this topic in Central Asia and Kazakhstan in particular. Therefore, I decided to study the relationship between family structure and student academic performance at secondary schools in one of the regions of Kazakhstan. The research will focus on identifying the difference in academic achievement of students from single-parent families and traditional two-parent households. Furthermore, I tend to examine whether such factors as family income and the level of parent-child interaction affect educational success of students in the two types of families.

It is generally acknowledged that family has an important role in a child’s life. More specifically, family can affect social development and academic experiences of a child (Schneider, B., Atteberry, A., & Owens, A., 2005). Family composition is the fundamental characteristic that has significant effect on children. Moreover, family structure can support or limit parents’ involvement into the process of positive influence on their child’s future achievements (Amato & Keith, 1991).

According to Barajas (2011) “almost 50 % of children born today will spend significant time living with only one parent” (p. 19). The increasing divorce rate in today’s society brings changes to the number of children raised in single-parent families (Abudu & Fuseini, 2013; Center for Marriage and Families, 2005; Kiernan, 1992). Currently Kazakhstan is also facing the issue of high divorce rate. The Agency of the Statistics of the Republic of Kazakhstan indicates that the marriage-to-divorce ratio in Kazakhstan was 3:1 in 2013. The number of divorces has increased almost by 30 % over the period of 13 years from 2000 to 2013 (Ministry of National Economy, 2013). The statistics also show that in the period of four years between 2006 and 2010 every fifth child was born to a single-parent household (International Labour Organization, n.d.). It is obvious that with the growing amount of divorces in the country the number of children living in single-parent households tends to go up as well. Therefore, more research is needed to identify what effect a family structure, single parenthood in particular, can have on a child’s social and academic development.

I believe, the results of the study will have implications at various levels. First, they will be useful for school administration and teachers in terms of determining factors related to high or low academic achievement of students. Also, parents may find this study helpful as they will see what impact such factors as family income and the level of parent-child interaction can have on the academic success of their children. Finally, the conclusions of the research will contribute to the body of knowledge in this area.


Abudu, A.M., & Fuseini, M.N. (2013). Influence of single parenting on pupils’ academic performance in basic schools in the WA Municipality. International Journal of Education Learning and Development, 1(2), 85-94. Retrieved from

Amato, P.R., & Keith, B. (1991). Separation from a parent during childhood and adult socioeconomic attainment. Social Forces, 70(1), 187-206. doi: 10.2307/2580068

Barajas, M. (2011). Academic achievement of children in single parent homes: a critical review. The Hilltop Review, 5(1), 13-21. Retrieved from

Center for Marriage and Families. (2005). Family structure and children’s educational outcomes. (Research Brief No. 1). New York, NY: Institute for American Values. Retrieved from

International Labour Organization. (n.d.). Work and family responsibilities: the Republic of Kazakhstan. Retrieved from

Kiernan, K.E. (1992). The impact of family disruption in childhood on transitions made in young adult life. Population Studies, 46(2), 213-234. doi: 10.1080/0032472031000146206

Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan Committee on Statistics. (2013). The number of registered divorces. Retrieved from

Schneider, B., Atteberry, A., & Owens, A. (2005). Family matters: family structure and child outcomes. Birmingham, AL: Alabama Policy Institute. Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “Family Structure and Student Performance at School

  1. Dayana, great first post. You have a good balance of personal and objective background about your topic, showing an ability to walk the fine line between formal and informal writing. Parts of the post seem to come directly from your thesis proposal, so be sure in the future to incorporate some more personal evidence of your experience through this process.

    Some things to work on:
    Commas: “I believe, the results of the study…”
    Articles: “the fundamental characteristic that has ___ significant effect on children”



  2. The topic is actual, because if we condsider the ordinary secondary school, the family background plays a great role in students’ life and their attitude not only to the studying, but life as a whole. At the same time, we cannot say confidently that one-parent-family provides only the “bad” student with indiffirence to the learning process. If it so, we should consider not only family background, but the social environment of the school location as well. It is not the secret that there are diffrent economical districts in any city or town, that is seen in housing, clean streets and even the appearance and clothing of people living there; some of such parts of the city can be thought as even criminal and dangerous.
    I think, mostly it is the parent’s own background and attitude to life that influence the child’s point of view to everything. If the parent is sure that his/her child should have better future, he/she will be engaged in the school and private life of the child through persuading to study, providing all possible opportunities for it. If the relations in such a family is close, we can see a very interested student persistent in achieving high goals.
    Every teacher has ever experienced the situation when there are two parents with good standards of living in the family, but a child does not want to study at all, because he/she is “packed” and has everything he/she wants. In this case, the reason of the matter is in the child’s confidence that parents must and are able to provide well-being till adulthood; mostly the relationships are not very close in such families, especially if parents see their main role in providing, but not communicating and sharing ideas about the personal responsibily for learning and its results.
    My idea is: parent’s personal attitude to people and life impacts the child’s views and life assumption.


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