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Title:Cause or effect? A longitudinal study of immigrant Latino parentsÕ aspirations and expectations of their children's school performance.
Author:Goldenberg, C., Gallimore, R., Reese, L., & Garnier, H.
Resource Type:Journal Article
American Educational Research Journal, 38(3)

pp. 547-582
Education Level:Elementary
Literature type:Research and Evaluation

This study explored the relationship between parents' aspirations and expectations for their children's eventual school attainment and children's school performance during elementary school. Findings showed that "parents' educational aspirations are stable, high, and certain over elementary school, reflecting a consistent desire that children attain high levels of formal schooling. Expectations, however, are lower, less stable, and subject to considerably more uncertainty during the elementary years." Data were obtained during this longitudinal study from a random sample of immigrant Latino families and their mostly United States-born children. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, 121 families' children in two Los Angeles area school districts were tracked from kindergarten through sixth grade. Thirty-two families were randomly selected for a case study subset. Families were interviewed ten times between the time their child entered kindergarten and completed fifth grade. Interviewers worked with the project a minimum of three years and were able to establish a relationship of trust with the families, especially those participating in the case study subset. Case study families were visited at home on twelve additional occasions for extended interviews designed to explore more subtle and complex aspects of parentsÕ cultural models of schooling and views about education. The researchers suggest that low parental aspirations and expectations cannot be used by educators to explain or excuse children's low achievement levels. This suggests the importance of interventions aimed directly at improving teaching and learning in school. While this study focuses exclusively on parents' aspirations and expectations, an important area for further research is the interplay between student achievement and the students' own aspirations and expectations.

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