Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 561–583 | Cite as

Changes in educational expectations between 10th and 12th grades across cohorts

  • Sueuk ParkEmail author
  • Ryan Wells
  • David Bills


The mean levels of educational expectations of American high school students have increased over the past generation; individual educational expectations change as students mature. Using the National Education Longitudinal Study and the Education Longitudinal Study, we examined simultaneously the changes in individuals’ expectations from 10th to 12th grade, and how these students’ revisions of their expectations changed across cohorts. The results indicated that today a bachelor’s degree is the normative expectation. Further, the class of 2004 decreased their expectations more often than they increased them, in opposition to the trend in the class of 1992. Finally, inequality between social classes in forming higher educational expectation has been maintained across generations, and growth in academic skills tested and encouragement from family, school, and peer groups is associated closely with changes in expectations.


Educational expectations Change across cohorts Change within cohorts Social class Time-varying factors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationChinju National University of EducationJinjuSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Educational Policy, Research, and AdministrationUniversity of Massachusetts, AmherstAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Department of Educational Policy and Leadership StudiesUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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