Longitudinal Linkages among Parents’ Educational Expectations, Youth’s Educational Expectations, and Competence in Mexican-origin Families

  • Lorena AcevesEmail author
  • Mayra Y. Bámaca-Colbert
  • Richard W. Robins
Empirical Research


The contribution that parental educational expectations for youth and youth’s perceptions of academic competence can have on youth’s own educational expectations across early to late adolescence is not well-understood. In a sample of Mexican-origin families, the current study examined longitudinal (from early to late adolescence) associations among mothers, fathers, and youth’s educational expectations, how youth’s educational expectations were associated with perceived academic competence, and the potential mediating role of youth’s perceived academic competence. Data from two-parent families which included one focal child (7th grade: N= 469; youth: Mage = 12.31, 50% female) at three waves (7th, 9th, and 11th grade) were utilized. Structural equation modeling and multi-group analysis were implemented to assess the study’s goals. Results revealed significant associations among parents’ 7th grade educational expectations and youth’s 9th and 11th grade educational expectations. The findings also revealed three significant associations among youth’s perceived academic competence and educational expectations between 7th and 11th grade. Specifically, youth’s 7th grade perceived academic competence predicted youth’s 9th grade educational expectations, youth’s 7th grade educational expectations predicted youth’s 9th grade perceived academic competence, and youth’s 9th grade perceived academic competence predicted youth’s 11th grade educational expectations. Multigroup analysis did not reveal gender differences for the associations tested. The findings highlight the long-term significance of parents’ educational expectations on youth’s educational expectations and underscore youth’s academic competence, an individual level factor, as critical to consider for understanding educational expectations across adolescence for Mexican-origin youth.


Educational expectations Longitudinal effects Fathers and mothers Perceived academic competence Mexican origin 



We would like to acknowledge all the families that participated in the California Families Project. The authors are also grateful for the staff and research assistants who assisted in this study.

Authors’ Contributions

L.A. conceived the study, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript; M.B. helped conceive the study and drafted the manuscript; R.R. participated in the design and coordination of the study and performed the measurement. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (DA017902) to the third author. In addition, funding was also received by the first author from Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant R305B090007 to The Pennsylvania State University. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. The authors are grateful for the participating families, staff and research assistants who took part in this study.

Data Sharing and Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board (University California Davis IRB; protocol number: 217484-23) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUnited States
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California DavisDavisUnited States

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