Post-secondary expectations and educational attainment.
High school students (Behavior)
Education, Higher (Social aspects)
Student counselors (Practice)
Sciarra, Daniel T.
Ambrosino, Katherine E.
|Publication:||Name: Professional School Counseling Publisher: American School Counselor Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Family and marriage; Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 American School Counselor Association ISSN: 1096-2409|
|Issue:||Date: Feb, 2011 Source Volume: 14 Source Issue: 3|
|Topic:||Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 200 Management dynamics|
|Product:||Product Code: E197400 Students, Senior High|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
This study utilized student, teacher, and parent expectations
during high school to analyze their predictive effect on post-secondary
education status two years after scheduled graduation. The sample
included 5,353 students, parents and teachers who participated in the
Educational Longitudinal Study (ELS; 2002-2006). The researchers
analyzed data using a frequency analysis and a multinomial logistic
regression. Results indicated that student, parent, and teacher
expectations were significant predictors, with teacher expectations
having the strongest effect across various categories of enrollment.
This article also discusses the study's implications for school
Studying the predictors of educational achievement and attainment occupies a significant place in the history of research related to education. That achievement results from a mixture of factors is a common belief, with those factors including individual characteristics such as cognitive ability and psychosocial maturity (Masten & Coatsworth, 1998; Mistry, White, Benner, & Huynh, 2009), environmental influences such as the quality and interaction effects of the home and school (Rothstein, 2004), and neighborhood factors that include the availability of resources (Rumberger & Thomas, 2000).
Although positing a higher order construct for the predictors of educational attainment is difficult, the counseling and psychology literature has considered the construct of expectancy as one of its central and enduring constructs in relationship to educational achievement and occupational attainment (Marshall & Brown, 2004; Olson, Roese, & Zanna, 1996). Along with self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1986, 1997), social learning theory (Bandura, 1977), self-regulation theory (Carver & Scheier, 2002), attribution theory (Weiner, 1985), theory of depression (Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989), and level of aspiration (Lewin, Dembo, Festinger, & Sears, 1944), the construct of expectancy in the from of performance expectations (i.e., the expectation that people have about their own or someone else's performance at a particular achievement-related task) has figured prominently in the research on predicting educational achievement (Carpenter, 2008; Casanova, Garcia-Linares, del la Torre, & de la Villa Carpio, 2005; Davis-Kean, 2005; Hao & Bonstead-Bruns, 1998; Marshall & Brown, 2004; Mistry et al, 2009; Phillipson & Phillipson, 2007; Rutchick, Smyth, Lopoo, & Dusek, 2009; Sanders, Field & Diego, 2001; Seyfried & Chung, 2002; Tavani & Losh, 2003; Trusty, 2000). Furthermore, researchers have used the construct of expectancy to measure the educational and occupational goals of young people (Trusty, 2002) and the goals that their parents and teachers have for them.
In regards to student expectations, Mahoney and Merritt (1993) found that 90% of Whites and 80% of Blacks wanted to attend college but that the percentage of Black men who anticipated disappointment was greater than White men (17% versus 7%). In a study of more than 1500 low-income youth, Ou and Reynolds (2008) found that the major predictor of educational attainment was students' expectations by age 15. Tavani and Losh (2003) found student expectation to be the strongest predictor of performance in high school when compared to parent education level, motivation, and self-confidence, while Sanders et al. (2001) found the correlation between student academic expectations and achievement to be .60.
Parental expectations also have occupied a central place in predicting the educational outcomes of students. Studies have found that parents who expect their children to do well in school often have children who expect to do well and achieve at high levels (Alexander et al., 1997; Urdan, Solek, & Schoenfelder, 2007). Mahoney and Merritt (1993) found that 90% of both Black and White students reported that their parents were at least somewhat
important in influencing their educational plans after high school. Davis-Kean (2005) found both direct and indirect effects of parental expectations as a predictor not only for student achievement but also for parent involvement behaviors. Among low-income, ethnic minority youth, studies have shown parental expectations to predict higher achievement (Reynolds & Gill, 1994) and higher graduation rates (Zhan & Sherraden, 2003).
In addition to student and parent expectations, researchers have investigated the role of teacher expectations in relation to student achievement and educational attainment (Benner & Mistry, 2007; Cheng & Starks, 2002; Farmer, 1985; Mahoney & Meritt, 1993; Mistry, White, Benner, & Huynh, 2009; Rubie-Davies, Hattie, & Hamilton, 2006; Muller, Katz, & Dance, 1999; Smith, Jussim, & Eccles, 1999). In general, these studies have supported the notion that teacher expectations influence not only academic performance but also long-term educational goals. Mistry et al. (2009) found that teacher expectations had longer lasting effect upon student achievement than parent expectations. One of the more enduring questions has been whether teacher expectations shape student behaviors or the reverse--student behaviors shape teacher expectations. A number of studies have found stronger support for the teacher-to-student expectation effect (e.g., Gill & Reynolds, 1999, Kuklinski & Weinstein, 2001; Muller et al., 1999; Rubie-Davis et al., 2006; Weinstein, 2002)
The Present Study
The more knowledge school counselors have about the role of expectations in relation to post-secondary educational attainment, the more able they will be to help students achieve commensurate with their ability. The National Standards of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA, 1997; Campbell & Dahir, 1997), the ASCA National Model (2003, 2005), and the Transforming School Counseling Initiative (TSCI; Education Trust, 1997) have contributed to determining the role of the school counselor as more proactive in maximizing the academic development of students. Similar to previous research, this study employs expectation as a predictor variable, but, in contrast to other studies, it employs student educational status two years after scheduled graduation from high school as the criterion variable. Rather than using achievement-related data (e.g., test scores and GPA) in relation to expectations, this study looks at what students are actually doing two years after graduation and to what degree their status is commensurate with expectations back in high school. In addition, this study does what few, if any, studies to date have done: investigates comparatively student, teacher, and parent expectations and uses a longitudinal dependent variable in relationship to expectations.
The study uses four categories of educational status: never enrolled in a post-secondary institution, not enrolled (meaning the student enrolled after high school but was not enrolled two years later), enrolled in a two-year institution, and enrolled in a four-year institution. The research also incorporates parent and teacher expectations to examine their effect relative to student expectations. Few studies, if any, have incorporated expectations from three different constituencies in relationship to post-secondary status. Accordingly, this predictive study seeks to answer the following questions:
l. How are expectations and post-secondary status distributed across ethnicity?
2. To what degree do student expectations change over time?
3. What is the relative strength among student, teacher, and parent expectations in predicting post-secondary outcomes?
4. Does the strength of expectations as a predictor variable vary according to the different categories of post-secondary enrollment?
The study's data came from the 2002-2006 Educational Longitudinal Study (ELS; U.S. Department of Education, 2008). ELS began in 2002 with a nationally representative probability sample of 15,362 tenth graders and subsequently collected a second wave of data in 2004 from the same base-year participants who were in senior year and a third wave in 2006, two years after scheduled graduation. ELS also includes the High School Transcripts, a restricted use file with academic data on the participants for all four years of high school. Non-academic data were collected from paper-and-pencil, self-administered tests that typically were completed in a group setting in the participants' school. The survey questionnaires are available on the ELS:2002 Web site, http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/els2002/.
Participants included students who participated in all three waves (2002, 2004, and 2006) of ELS and for whom expectation and attainment status data were available along with data from their parents and teachers, who participated in the base year only. This resulted in a final N of 5353. The participants were 55% female and 45% male. Their ethnic identification was 9.6% Asian, 12.2% African American, 10.4% Latino, and 67.8% White. The present study did not include Native Americans because of the small sample size across all three waves of data collection. The researchers weighted data to adjust for unequal probabilities in the selection of students and to adjust for the fact that not all selected students participated in all three waves of the study (see Ingels, Pratt, Rogers, Siegel, & Stutts, 2004). They also used weighting to adjust for non-response bias. Data analysis using SPSS incorporated a relative weight derived by dividing the panel weight of the data base by the average weight of the sample to adjust for unequal probabilities of selection and for the lack of participation by selected individuals (Ingels et al., 2007).
The study employed all categorical variables based on expectations for post-secondary education. ELS 2002 divides post-secondary expectations into seven categories: (1) less than high school, (2) high school graduation or GED only, (3) attend or complete a two-year college/school, (4) attend college, four-year degree incomplete, (5) graduate from college, (6) obtain Master's degree or equivalent, and (7) obtain Ph.D., MD, or other advanced degree. The authors of the present study collapsed these seven categories into three: (1) high school or less, (2) two-year college, and (3) baccalaureate degree or higher. The decision to reduce the number of categories was based on the need for adequate cell numbers to generate statistical power. In addition, research has supported the increasing number of students, especially ethnic minorities, who attend two-year colleges without moving on to four-year institutions (see, for example, Dougherty & Kiewnzl, 2006; Sciarra & Whitson, 2007).
This study measured student expectations across two waves (sophomore and senior year), while parent and teacher expectations were measured in the base year only. In both years, students responded to the following question: "As things stand now, how far in school do you think you will get?" The same categories of expectations were held constant across time and participants. Teacher expectations were from the students' math teacher in sophomore year who answered the following question: "How far do you expect this student will get?" ELS measured teacher expectations based on responses only from English and math teachers. The decision to use expectations from the math teacher was based on previous research's support for the relationship between the math curriculum in high school and success in post-secondary education (Adelman, 1999, 2006; Sciarra, 2010; Trusty & Niles, 2003). The item measuring parent expectations stated: "Please indicate how far in school you expect your 10th-grader will go." The criterion variable, measuring student status in 2006, two years after scheduled graduation, had four categories: (1) Never Enrolled, (2) Leaver (enrolled after high school but not enrolled in January of 2006, (3) Enrolled in a Two-Year Institution, and (4) Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution.
Because the criterion variable is defined by three categories, the study employed a multinomial logistic regression (MLR). Specifically, this multivariate statistical procedure is appropriate for modeling the relationship between a categorical criterion variable and a set of predictor variables (Norusis, 2004; Pample, 2000). Whereas general logistic regression procedures assess model fit with dichotomous criterion variables, generating a classification table that estimates the percentage of correct and incorrect classification for the predictor variables, the appropriate effect size for MLR is the odds ratios for each predictor. In contrast to probabilities, which use the group total to calculate the chance of belonging to a particular subgroup, odds ratios are ratios of the probability of being in a particular group compared to being in the baseline or reference group. For this analysis, the fourth category (enrolled in a four-year institution) was the reference group to which the other groups were compared based on the predictor variables.
To examine research questions 1 (How are expectations and post-secondary status distributed across ethnicity?) and 2 (To what degree do student expectations change over time?), Table 1 presents the percentages by ethnic groups of post-high school educational expectations as reported in 2002 (sophomore year) by students, parents, and math teacher and in 2004 by students in their senior year, and contrasts these expectations with students' actual enrollment status in 2006.
To examine research question 3 (What is the predictive effect of the various categories of expectations upon post-secondary status?), an MLR was computed. Tests for multicollinearity revealed squared correlations between each of the pair of predictor variables to be .51 or below, and the highest Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) to be 1.37. Both observations indicate low risk of multicollinearity (Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003). This statistical procedure examining the effects of the four predictor variables (student expectations in sophomore and senior years along with parent and teacher expectations in sophomore year) produced the likelihood ratio test for the overall model and revealed that the overall model was significantly better than the intercept-only model [[chi square] (24, 180) = 2657, p < .000]. In other words, the null hypothesis (the regression coefficients of the independent variables are zero) was rejected. In addition, the likelihood ratio test for individual effects revealed that all of the predictor variables are significantly related to the categories of the criterion variable: student sophomore year expectations, [chi square] (6) = 72.10, p < .000; student senior year expectations, [chi square] (6) = 444.20, p < .001; parent expectations, [chi square] (6) = 85.84, p < .000; teacher expectation, [chi square] (6) = 615.99, p < .00.
Table 2 reports the parameter estimates from the MLR model examining the effects of the predictor variables on Postsecondary Education (PSE) status. According to these results, the parameter estimates for all of the predictors are significantly different from zero for all three logits (Never Enrolled compared to Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution; Leaver in 2006 compared to Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution, and Enrolled in a Two-Year Institution compared to Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution). The one exception was the parameter for parents who expected their child to go to a two-year institution and who were enrolled in a two-year institution (X = .42, p = .08), which did not differ significantly from those parents who expected their child to attend a four-year institution and who were enrolled in a four-year institution.
To examine research question 4 (Does the strength of expectations as a predictor variable vary according to the different categories of post-secondary enrollment?), Table 2 presents three nonredundant logits since the study's criterion variable (Post-Secondary Status) has four possible values. The first logit compares the Never Enrolled to Enrolled in Four-Year Institution. The odds of never having enrolled in a postsecondary institution rather than having enrolled in four-year institution increase by a factor of 4.42 by having 10th-grade expectation of high school or less rather than expectation for a Bachelor's degree or higher. This increases to 23.4 when the same expectation exists in senior year, but is reduced to 15.8 when the expectation in 12th grade is for a two-year college rather than a Bachelor's degree. If parents expected a high school education or less rather than a Bachelor's degree or higher, the odds increase by a factor of 3.55 for being never enrolled in a postsecondary institution rather than a four year college but decrease to 2.68 if parents expected a two-year college. Students whose math teacher in sophomore year expected them to attain no more than a high school education or less had their odds increased by a factor of 11 to be in the never-enrolled group rather than ha the group enrolled in a four-year institution. If teacher expectations were a two-year college rather than a Bachelor's degree or higher, the odds increased by a factor of 2.38
For the second logit (Leaver compared to Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution) all parameter estimates significantly predicted membership in the Not-Enrolled group. In sophomore year, if students expected a high school education or less rather than a Bachelor's degree or higher, they had increased odds of 3.01 for not being enrolled in 2006 rather than being enrolled in a four-year institution in 2006. The odds are just about the same if their expectations in 10th grade were a two-year college. Expectations measured in senior year indicate that those who expected a high school education or less had increased odds of 6.97 for not being enrolled in 2006 compared to being enrolled in a four-year institution, and these odds increase to 9.74 if their expectations in senior year were for a two-year college rather than a Bachelor's degree or higher. Students whose parents expected a high school education or less rather than a Bachelor's degree, had slight increase of odds (1.10) to not be enrolled in 2006 than to be in a four-year institution, but the odds increase to 2.17 for those students whose parents expected a two-year college rather than a Bachelor's degree or higher. Students whose math teacher in sophomore year expected them to achieve no more than a high-school education or less rather than a Bachelor's degree or higher, had their odds increase by a factor of 6.57 to not be enrolled in 2006 than to be enrolled in a four-year institution. If teacher expectations were for a two-year college, this factor is reduced to 2.32.
The third and final logit compares those enrolled in a two-year institution with those enrolled in a four-year institution. Students currently enrolled in a two-year institution and who in sophomore year expected a high school diploma or less rather than a Bachelor's degree or higher had their odds increase by a factor of 2.58 for being enrolled in a two-year institution than a four-year institution and by a factor of 2.40 if they expected a two-year college. However, if in senior year they expected a two-year college, the odds of beings enrolled in a two-year college rather than a four-year institution increased by a factor of 8.1 and by a factor of 3.03 if their expectation was a high school degree or less. The odds for students whose parents expected a high school diploma or less increased by a factor of 1.86 for being enrolled in a two-year institution rather than a four-year institution. Finally, students whose math teacher expected a high school education or less rather than a Bachelor's degree or higher had increased odds of 5.93 for being enrolled in a two-year institution rather than a four-year institution and odds of 2.92 if expectations were for a two-year college.
Respondents identified as Asian had the highest expectations and the highest post-secondary enrollment status especially when comparing the categories of Leaver and Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution. The former is noticeably lower and the latter noticeably higher in relationship to other ethnic groups, most especially Blacks and Latinos. Interestingly, there is little difference between Asian students and other ethnic groups in regards to enrollment in a two-year institution. In some ways, the two-year institution, assumed to be in most cases the community college, is something of an equalizer. Many more students wind up in two-year institutions after graduation than previously expected, but this disparity is significantly reduced when looking at expectations in senior year. Previous research has indicated that later expectations are more reliable than earlier ones (Trusty, 2000). Increasing the expectations of and eventual enrollment in two-year institutions are, most likely, two factors: finances and academic credentials. As students move closer to graduation, they are likely to have a more realistic understanding of what is possible given their academic and/or financial status. Except for the Asian group, the study showed little difference in the percentages of students who expected in senior year to attend a two-year institution and those actually enrolled in a two-year institution 1.5 years after graduation. The percentage doubled for the Asian student group, meaning that many more Asians attend community colleges after graduation than expected to do so. The reason for this is not clear. Perhaps it is because they begin with higher expectations, making it more difficult to relinquish them even in the face of realities that make it difficult to actualize such expectations.
The discrepancies between student expectations in senior year and actual status two years later merit some discussion. The increase is dramatic between the percentage of students not enrolled in 2006 (the Leaver group) and the percentage of students who in senior year aspired to more than a high school education. But the increase is less dramatic when those who never enrolled are separated out from those who enrolled at some point after graduation but were not enrolled two years after graduation. Since enrollment status was measured in January 2006, one and a half years after graduation, it cannot be assumed that non-enrollment is due to having completed a two-year degree. A high percentage (approximately 70% in the current sample) of students attends some form of post-secondary education after high school but does not stick with it. Statistics have shown that less than a third of those who enroll in community colleges wind up with a two-year degree (Leonhardt, 2010). Little percentage difference seems to exist across ethnicity in regards to those who are dropping out. However, when the percentage of those who never enrolled is combined with those who enrolled but dropped out, almost half of the Black and Latino samples were not enrolled in January of 2006. When this combined percentage is compared to student expectations even in senior year for a Bachelor's degree or higher, the contrast is glaring. Of course, some of these students may return to school at some point. Researchers have shown, however, that interrupted studies diminish significantly the possibility of completing a four-year degree (Fry, 2002). Furthermore, only 50% of students who intend to earn a Bachelor's degree transfer from a community college to a four-year college (Aud, 2010).
Another way to discuss these results is to compare the percentages of those who expected a Bachelor's degree or higher in senior year and who are enrolled in a four-year institution. For Blacks and Latinos, especially, noticeable differences exist. Even if one were to combine those enrolled in two-year institutions with those enrolled in four-year institutions (making the unrealistic assumption that everyone enrolled in a two-year college will go on to a four-year institution and thereby meet their expectation in senior year for a Bachelor's degree or higher), approximately 20% of Blacks and Latinos would not meet their expectation of a Bachelor's degree or higher, followed by 13% of Whites and 10% of Asians. While the majority of students across ethnicity go on to some form of post-secondary education after high school (in the case of Asians, 93%; Blacks, 74%; Latinos, 71%; and Whites, 82%), many leave within 1.5 years of graduation from high school and jeopardize meeting not only their expectations from sophomore year but also the more reliable expectations measured in senior year.
The results for teacher expectations indicated they were highest for Asians, followed by Whites, Blacks and Latinos. Similar to parents, the expectation for a two-year institution was relatively small across ethnicity when compared to the actual percentages of students who wound up attending two-year institutions. The option of the two-year institution appears to go relatively unrecognized early on by all constituencies but, in actuality, is a viable one. However, previous research has indicated that teacher expectations do make a difference and the regression analysis indicates their strength relative to the expectations of students and parents. Teachers were very likely using current grades in their classes for the basis of their expectations. If so, and if the Asian group as a whole had better grades in math than the other groups, it would follow that teachers' expectations for this group would be higher. However, one cannot rule out bias based on stereotype that Asians are good at math, and the degree this stereotype is related to expectations is not known.
Results of this study show an interesting similarity between teacher expectations for high school education only and students not enrolled in 2006 and also between teacher expectations for a Bachelor's or higher and combined percentages of those enrolled in a two-year institution and a four year institution. In other words, teacher expectations may have more accuracy compared to those of parents and students, perhaps due to a better understanding of post-secondary options. One thing to consider from this study is whether raising expectations, particularly those of the math teacher, would have an effect on raising the post-secondary attainment levels of their students. Whether teacher expectations are the result of student performance or the reverse is true (Weinstein, 2002; Rubie-Davis, 2006) is somewhat of a thorny issue. Research seems to be more supportive of the latter. If so, and with the trend seen from the results of the present study, it behooves counselors to work closely with teachers regarding their expectations for students in order to effectuate a shared goal of increasing post-secondary educational attainment, especially among Blacks and Latinos. For example, a student who is struggling in math class should not be easily changed to a lower level one out of the teacher's concern that the student may not pass the class.
Closer examination shows the differences expectations can make. In comparing the two most disparate groups (those never enrolled versus those enrolled in a four-year institution), the chances of never being enrolled diminish significantly when student expectations increase from high school or less to a two-year institution. This same trend is seen for parents and teachers: as expectations rise and go from less than high school to a two-year institution, the chances of never having enrolled decrease dramatically and most noticeably when teachers have higher expectations. Those in the Never Enrolled group appear to stand to benefit the most from an increase in expectations from high school or less to a two-year institution.
The trend is not as neat for the Leaver group, most likely because it is a heterogeneous group. Knowledge about this group is limited to the fact that they enrolled in some post-secondary institution after high school but were not enrolled in January 2006, 1.5 years after scheduled graduation. The greater likelihood that students would be in this group if their expectations as seniors were for a two-year institution rather than high school or less makes sense, since less than one third who attend community colleges finish their degree. A more interesting finding, however, is with teacher expectations: an increase from high school or less to a two-year college had a strong effect in diminishing the chances of being in the Non-Enrolled group rather than the Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution group. Again, as teacher expectations increase, the chances are diminished of being in a lower educational attainment group as opposed to a higher one. The emphasis should be on the word "diminished" because these students still are more likely to be in the lower educational attainment group (Leaver) rather than the higher (Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution) even when teacher expectations increase to a two-year institution compared to a four-year institution. The same teacher expectation effect is also present in differentiating those enrolled in two-year institution from those enrolled in a four-year institution. In short, teacher expectations remain a strong predictive factor across different educational status groups.
As a predictive factor, parent expectations appear to become less strong as the groups increase in educational status and overall are less strong than student and teacher expectations. The results of this study appear to indicate that parent expectations have a stronger effect upon those who do not enroll in any post-secondary institution than those students who either enroll and drop out or are enrolled two years after graduation. Parent expectation has a significant effect of upon all of the groups, but the strongest is in differentiating the Never Enrolled group from the group Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution. Results of this study do indicate, however, that an increase in parent expectations from high school or less to a two-year college does not have as strong an effect upon determining post-secondary status as does an increase in expectations by students and teachers. This result is somewhat surprising and may appear to contradict previous research that supports the interrelatedness of parent and student expectations. The analysis in this study is about comparing the effects of changes or increases in expectations by various constituencies (student, parents, and teachers) upon post-secondary status. Seen through this lens, different expectations by the math teacher, followed by student expectations in their senior year, have a stronger effect in determining post-secondary status than do parent expectations. One explanation for this is that students may find it easier to minimize or neutralize what their parents expect of them and may be more influenced by what their teachers expect of them.
Implications for School Counselors
The results of this study have several implications for school counselors. Since talking with students about their expectations for life after high school is most usual, school counselors need to consider students' level when students are articulating plans for after high school. The present results show that expectations in sophomore year appear to have a weaker predictive effect than later student expectations. This does not mean that school counselors should avoid talking with students early on about their expectations or fail to take them seriously. It does mean, however, that school counselors have to help students be more informed about the realities of post-secondary life, especially in regards to the academic and financial requirements, the two variables that most effect sustained attendance at post-secondary institutions. One implication is to employ counseling based on Choice theory (Glasser, 1998, 2000), for example: you expect a Bachelor's degree; what is needed to meet that expectation; what are you doing now to meet the expectation; what do you have to stop or start doing to better meet that expectation. School counselors can easily compare a student's expectation with their current academic credentials while meeting early on with parents around the financial exigencies of college and available financial aid.
The second implication of this study is the increasing importance of the two-year institution after high school. The majority of students go on to some form of post-secondary education with Latinos having the lowest rate but still with 71% having some education beyond high school. Across ethnicity, more students were enrolled in two-year institutions a year and a half after scheduled graduation than expected that outcome even in their senior year. Faced with the reality of the increasing importance of the community college, school counselors can expand their efforts to work with students around this option. This is the art of school counseling: help students maintain high expectations (in this study defined as Bachelor's degree or higher) while at the same time alerting them to the various pathways towards achieving that goal. Given the harsh realities of the current economic environment and the skyrocketing costs of four-year colleges, school counselors can help students understand that attending a two-year institution is not some sort of failure but a viable option towards a four-year degree. However, although admission to a community college may be easier, attainment of a two-year degree and transfer to a four-year college will depend on maintaining high academic achievement. Furthermore, since this study's results show also that increasing one's expectation from high school or less to a two-year college can have a significant predictive effect upon postsecondary attainment, school counselors can work with low-expectation students by introducing the option of the two-year college.
The third implication for school counselors revolves around the importance of teacher expectations for post-secondary attainment. Contemporary models of school counseling (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2005; Education Trust, 1997; Gysbers & Henderson, 2006) all emphasize school counselor collaboration with teachers in promoting academic achievement. The results of the present study imply one very concrete way to do this: help teachers, specifically those of important subjects like math, understand the predictive consequences of their expectations for their students and emphasize the importance of elevating their expectations even in the face of evidence that may challenge them from doing so. School counselors can help teachers understand that more research supports the teacher-to-student expectation effect than the reverse. Since this study's results show that teacher expectations were much lower for Black and Latino students, the authors especially encourage school counselors who work with these populations to work with teachers in regards to their expectations of their students. All too often, teachers can lower expectations based on the current behavior, academic or otherwise, of their students. However, the role of cognitive mediators such as expectation in effecting performance should not go unrecognized. School counselors are trained to appreciate these mediators and have an important responsibility to collaborate with teachers in helping them have that same appreciation. Professional development programs for teachers have been successful in changing expectations (Guskey, 2002), and counselors can become part of such programs. Student expectations, on the other hand, are often based upon performance outcomes (Bandura, 1986). If students arc repeatedly failing, their expectations are lowered. To raise self-efficacy, which in turn raises expectations, school counselors can help teachers expose students to systematically graded success (Lopez, Lent, Brown, & Gore, 1997).
Limitations and Future Research
The present study suffers from several limitations. First, it is data-based research and the investigator is limited to items in the data base and faces the problem of missing data. For example, this study could not measure either teacher or parent expectations over time, only those of students. Since the present study used three waves of ELS 2002 (Base Year when students were in the 10th grade, First Follow-Up when student were in their senior year, and Second Follow-Up 1.5 years after scheduled graduation), data were not available for all base-year participants. Given that no variables in the study were continuous, available transformation methods, such as those in SPSS, were not useful. Therefore, even though this study employed a national sample, its randomness cannot be assured. Secondly, while the analysis used in this study can determine the significance and effective strength of the individual predictor variables, it cannot reveal whether a significant difference indeed exists among factors. Future studies, using structural equation modeling, can test whether the effect coefficients for the various predictors are equal or not--something logistic regression cannot do.
Future research needs to further investigate two categories of post-secondary status: the Leaver in 2006 and Enrolled in a Two-Year College. The former includes those who enrolled at some point but were not enrolled 1.5 years after graduation. Since the percentages are high (13% Asian, 19% Black, 20% Latino, and 15% White), future research needs to investigate what happened with these students. What are the reasons for not continuing their education? In addition, more information is needed about those enrolled in community colleges and what happens to them. How many go on to four-year colleges and to what extent can we determine factors that separate those who do from those who do not? Since a fourth wave of ELS 2002 is in preparation, researchers will have available data to answer these questions.
The present study was an investigation into the relationship between high school expectations for postsecondary educational attainment and students' educational status 1.5 years after high school. Our results show that students have expectations beyond what they are actually doing, a significant number enroll but drop out, many more go to two-year institutions than expected, and teacher expectations have the strongest predictive effect followed by student and then parent expectations. Asian students achieve the highest post-secondary, post-educational status measured 1.5 years after graduation followed by Whites, then Blacks, then Latinos, who, interestingly, have the highest percentage representation in two-year institutions. The good news is that more and more students across ethnicity continue their education beyond high school. The bad news is that a significant number are not enrolled in any institution 1.5 years after graduation. As school counselors do an excellent job of helping more and more students continue their education beyond high school, more research is needed into college persistence. The ASCA National Model (2005) stresses the importance of holding school counselors accountable for student academic achievement and attainment. The results of this study imply that this accountability should be expanded to include data about students after they graduate, especially those that enroll and drop out. Action research (Stone & Dahir, 2007) on the part of school counselors should include not only data about the number of students who go on to post-secondary education but also the number that complete two- and four-year degrees. With longer-range data, counselor interventions then can be measured by how well their students meet their expectations about postsecondary education
In conclusion, a greater concern exists today not for dropping out of high school but for dropping out of one's post-secondary institution. In expanding the horizon of their efforts, school counselors will become more faithful to their mission of playing a central role in increasing the educational attainment of all students.
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Daniel T. Sciarra, Ph.D. is a professor of counselor education and Katherine E. Ambrosino is a graduate student at Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Table 1. Student, Parent and Teacher Expectations in 2002 (Sophomore Year), Student Expectations in 2004 (Senior Year), and Student Status in 2006 (Two Years after Scheduled Graduation) by Ethnicity (N=5353) Asian (n = 514) Black (n = 654) EXPECTATIONS H.S. or 2-Year Bachelor's H.S. or 2-Year Less College or Higher Less College 2002 Student 3% 3% 94% 10% 6% Parent 3% 1% 96% 18% 4% Teacher 15% 6% 79% 45% 9% 2004 Student 1% 8% 91% 6% 14% STATUS Never/ 2-Year 4-Year Never/ 2-Year Leaver College Institution Leaver College 2006 Student 20% 16% 64% 45% 19% Black Latino (n = 556) (n = 654) EXPECTATIONS Bachelor's H.S or 2-Year Bachelor's or Higher Less College or Higher 2002 Student 84% 17% 4% 79% Parent 78% 18% 4% 78% Teacher 46% 51% 5% 44% 2004 Student 80% 8% 20% 72% STATUS 4-Year Never/ 2-Year 4-Year Institution Leaver College Institution 2006 Student 36% 49% 22% 29% White (n = 3629) EXPECTATIONS H.S. or 2-Year Bachelor's Less College or Higher 2002 Student 12% 3% 85% Parent 19% 4% 77% Teacher 29% 8% 63% 2004 Student 5% 15% 80% STATUS Never/ 2-Year 4-Year Leaver College Institution 2006 Student 33% 18% 49% Note. The "Never/Leaver" category includes those who never enrolled in a post-secondary institution and those who enrolled after high school but were not enrolled two Table 2. Parameter Estimates from the Logistic Regression Model Examining the Effects of the Predictor Variables on Post-Secondary Education Status. POST SECONDARY EDUCATION STATUS Never Enrolled Leaver VARIABLE [chi] Odds [chi] Odds Expectations, 10th grade High school or Less 1.49 *** 4.42 1.10 *** 3.01 Two-Year College 1.06 *** 2.93 1.15 *** 3.15 Bachelor's Degree Expectations 12th grade High school or Less 3.15 *** 23.41 1.94 *** 6.97 Two-Year College 2.76 *** 15.80 2.28 *** 9.74 Bachelor's Degree Parent Expectations High school or Less 1.27 *** 3.55 .69 *** 1.10 Two-Year College .99 *** 2.68 .77 *** 2.17 Bachelor's Degree Teacher Expectations High school or Less 2.41 *** 11.07 1.88 *** 6.57 Two-Year College .87 *** 2.38 .84 *** 2.31 Bachelor's Degree POST SECONDARY EDUCATION STATUS Enrolled in 2-Year Institution VARIABLE [chi] Odds Expectations, 10th grade High school or Less .95 *** 2.58 Two-Year College .88 ** 2.40 Bachelor's Degree Expectations 12th grade High school or Less 1.11 ** 3.03 Two-Year College 2.09 *** 8.10 Bachelor's Degree Parent Expectations High school or Less .62 *** 1.86 Two-Year College 0.42 1.53 Bachelor's Degree Teacher Expectations High school or Less 1.78 *** 5.93 Two-Year College 1.07 *** 2.92 Bachelor's Degree Note. The reference category for the dependent variable is Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution. For the predictor variable, Bachelor's degree or higher is the comparison category. Standard errors for sampling design effects calculated with the use of AM software (American Institutes for Research, 2003) were adjusted. Nagelkerke [R.sup.2] = .43. * p [less than or equal to] .05; ** p [less than or equal to] .01; *** p [less than or equal to] .001.
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