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Parental expectations and school relationships as contributors to adolescents’ positive outcomes


Researchers examined associations of parental expectations and parental school relationships with school outcomes among U.S. middle and high school students. Nationally representative data involving families from the National Household Education Surveys were analyzed with structural equation modeling. Measures included interview responses about parent expectations for their children’s long term educational attainment (ranging from dropping out of high school to obtaining a JD/PhD/MD) and how much parents feel welcomed at school, trust and have positive interactions with educators. The latter three variables formed a latent variable called parent school relationship. Analyses controlled for SES (parents’ educational attainment and household income), family structure, gender, and ethnicity. The school outcomes variable was derived from parental report of students’ grades, retention in any grade and behavior problems at school. Parental expectations were positively related (standardized path coefficient = .44, \(p<.01\)) to positive school outcomes and had a stronger effect than SES (standardized path coefficient = .24). Parent school relationships were also positively related to school outcomes. These findings suggest that psychologists and educators should be aware of the potential for parents to play a significant role (e.g., via expectations and developing supportive relationships with educators) in children’s education, even in middle and high school.

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Correspondence to John Mark Froiland.

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The authors would like to thank Emily Oros and Sierra Wickham who assisted with formatting tables. The first author received support from a University of Northern Colorado Faculty Reassignment Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Works. The second author received support from Grant No. R305C050059 from the Institute of Education Sciences in the US Department of Education.

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Froiland, J.M., Davison, M.L. Parental expectations and school relationships as contributors to adolescents’ positive outcomes. Soc Psychol Educ 17, 1–17 (2014).

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  • Parent expectations
  • Parent school relationship
  • Academic achievement
  • Adolescence
  • School retention
  • Classroom behavior
  • Expectations
  • Families
  • Trust