Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Stefanie Mollborn

Second Advisor

Fred Pampel

Third Advisor

Richard Rogers


This study seeks to determine the social origins of parents' educational expectations for their children and explore how the effects of sociodemographic background characteristics differ across schools. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten (ECLS-K) and a multilevel approach, the results indicate that race, socioeconomic status (SES), child academic abilities, and school composition are all important predictors of parental educational expectations of 8th grade children. Having higher SES, being black or Hispanic, and attending a school with a high percentage of minority students all increase parental expectations. Furthermore, the positive effect of having higher levels of parental education or household income is weakened by attending a school with a higher level of students coming from a minority racial background. This study demonstrates that school effects extend beyond the child and that researchers should continue to explore family-school interactions.