Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1140–1152 | Cite as

Parental Aspirations for Their Children’s Educational Attainment: Relations to Ethnicity, Parental Education, Children’s Academic Performance, and Parental Perceptions of School Climate

  • Christopher SperaEmail author
  • Kathryn R. Wentzel
  • Holly C. Matto
Empirical Research


This study examined parental aspirations for their children’s educational attainment in relation to ethnicity (African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic), parental education, children’s academic performance, and parental perceptions of the quality and climate of their children’s school with a sample of 13,577 middle and high school parents. All parents had relatively high educational aspirations for their children, and within each ethnic subgroup, parental education and children’s academic performance were significantly and positively related to parental aspirations. However, moderating effects were found such that Caucasian parents with lower levels of education had significantly lower educational aspirations for their children than did parents of other ethnicities with similar low levels of education. Although the strength of the relationship between parental perceptions of school-related factors and parental aspirations for their children’s educational attainment was not strong, it was most predictive of non-Caucasian parental aspirations for their children.


Adolescent achievement Educational aspirations Parental influences School climate 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Spera
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kathryn R. Wentzel
    • 2
  • Holly C. Matto
    • 3
  1. 1.Applied Organizational ResearchICF InternationalFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human DevelopmentUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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