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Causal Influences on Educational Plans of High School Seniors: A Structural Analysis by Race SES

Rock, Donald A.; Freeberg, Norman E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
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Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Academic Ability, Critical Path Method, Expectation, High School Seniors, Mothers, Parent Influence, Racial Differences, Self Evaluation (Individuals), Socioeconomic Status (SES), Student Attitudes


The influence of ability, SES level, school characteristics mother's expectations and self-perceptions on students' level of educational plans (LEP) as high school seniors were examined separately for samples of 9,055 White and 1,077 Black students using the same hypothesized causal model. Structural (path) analyses produced similar patterns for both racial groups in the hierarchy of direct influences on LEP, with mother's expectations found to be dominant. Academic achievement and SES, which showed only moderate direct influences, produced their major impact indirectly by acting through parental expectations; while minimal or negligible influence could be ascribed to school context variables or student self-esteem. Where racial differences were identified, they indicated greater net impact of the hypothesized effects on LEP and a better overall model fit for White students (i.e., better predictive and explanatory value). A finding of greater indirect influences among Whites for SES and academic achievement has implications for somewhat greater consistency between traditional middle class value systems and goals for White students. (28pp.)

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