This study examined the self-system model of motivational development (SSMMD) in the “context–self–action–result” process by using 2011-2013 data from the Taiwan Database of Children and Youth in Poverty. The SSMMD suggests that contextual, self-system, and school engagement factors influence academic achievement and dropping out of school and considers the directional effects among these factors. Utilizing structural equation modeling, 1,673 economically disadvantaged students participated in the longitudinal study. The results revealed that (1) social context, self-perception, school engagement, and academic achievement were antecedents of dropping out; (2) students’ self-factor was a mediator between family interaction and academic engagement, specifically with regard to educational expectation; (3) teacher–student interaction predicted students’ self-efficacy directly, which in turn predicted students’ academic engagement indirectly; (4) students’ educational expectations predicted academic engagement directly and academic achievement indirectly; and (5) the greater the students’ academic engagement, the higher their academic achievement. Students’ academic engagement and academic achievement in 2011 were associated with a decreased likelihood of dropping out in 2013. The implications of these findings are discussed from the perspective of cultivating economically disadvantaged students’ learning.
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