Beyond Parental Educational Attainment: How Parents' High School Experiences and Grandparents' Educational Attainment Affect Young Children’s Test Performance

Kristin E. Turney, University of Pennsylvania

Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), a nationally representative sample of kindergarteners in 1998-99, we examine how parents’ high school experiences and grandparents’ educational attainment are associated with children’s educational achievement net of demographic and other socioeconomic differences. Overall, we find that among parents who have less than a Bachelor’s Degree, high school grades, highest math course taken, and type of high school are strongly predictive of the math and reading scores of their children. Grandparents' educational attainment is also associated with test scores, although, after controlling for parental socioeconomic status, these measures are only significant in determining math achievement. Both parents' high school experiences and grandparents' educational attainment are more strongly related to math scores than reading scores. We find that high school experiences of parents and grandparents' education delineate another route of intergenerational transfer of status and may help explain the disadvantage of minority youth beyond traditional measures of socioeconomic status.

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Presented in Poster Session 1