Factors that support high school completion

a longitudinal examination of quality teacher-student relationships and intentions to graduate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Stage-environment fit theory (SEF) posits that students leave school when their environments do not meet their needs. Quality teacher-student relationships (QTSRs) are a critical element of students’ environments. Moreover, QTSRs help students internalize positive intentions to graduate. QTSRs and intentions to graduate have both been identified as separate determinants of high school completion. These factors may also form a longitudinal socio-motivational process that supports graduation. However, few studies have examined such processes. Methods: This investigation examined data from N = 4691 Australian secondary students (43% female) included in the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (LSAY) 2009 cohort. Participants were in grade 10 at Time 1 (Mage = 15.74; SD = 0.28), with a total of four annual time points examined. Longitudinal probit regression was used to examine the extent to which grade 10 QTSRs predicted students’ intentions to graduate (in grades 10 and 11), and QTSRs and intentions to graduate predicted high school completion. Multi-class analysis and indirect effects testing were also conducted. Results: Grade 10 QTSRs are positively associated with grade 10 intentions to graduate and grade 11 intentions to graduate (beyond the effects of grade 10 intentions to graduate). QTSRs and intentions to graduate were also positively associated with increased chances of high school completion. QTSRs were found to play a stronger role for low-achieving students over time. Conclusions: Overall, QTSRs and intentions to graduate appear to be significantly associated with intentions to graduate and high school completion, especially for low-achieving students. Intervention implications are signalled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-189
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • stage-environment fit
  • high school completion
  • teacher-student relationships
  • intentions to graduate
  • low-achieving students

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