Academic journal article Exceptional Children

The Relationship between Parent Expectations and Postschool Outcomes of Adolescents with Disabilities

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

The Relationship between Parent Expectations and Postschool Outcomes of Adolescents with Disabilities

Article excerpt

Numerous findings suggest that parent expectations regarding their adolescent's abilities, skills, and future educational and occupational choices hold a powerful influence on the outcomes achieved by adolescents and young adults (Agliata & Renk, 2008; X. Fan, 2001; Yazedjian, Toews, & Navarro, 2009). Parent expectations have been linked to their adolescent's academic achievement (Chen & Gregory, 2010; Zhang, Haddad, Tortes, & Chen, 2010); school engagement (W. Fan & Williams, 2010; Simons-Morton & Chen, 2009); college attendance, adjustment, and achievement (Agliata & Renk, 2008; Crosnoe, Mistry, & Elder, 2002; Kim & Schneider, 2005; Sciarra & Ambrosino, 2011; Yazedjian et al., 2009); and occupational attainment (Blustein et al., 2002; DiRago & Vaillant, 2007). A consistent finding across these studies suggests that high parent expectations of their adolescent's achievements result in outcomes commensurate with these expectations.

Social cognitive and expectancy-value theories (Bandura, 2006; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Parsons Eccles, Adler, & Kaczala, 1982) provide a conceptual framework regarding the possible mechanisms by which parent expectations may influence adolescent and young adult outcomes. Within these frameworks, expectations are thought to be transmitted to adolescents through both covert and overt parent behaviors that are in alignment with their own expectations of their adolescent. These behaviors, in turn, are learned or internalized by adolescents and influence their beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors that then ultimately impact the outcomes achieved.

Less research has focused on the impact of parent expectations on the outcomes of adolescents with disabilities; the few studies that have are consistent with those found in the general literature. For example, Wagner, Blackorby, Cameto, and Newman (1993) reported in the first National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS) that high parent expectations of their adolescent's postschool outcomes were positively and significantly related to the actual outcomes achieved. Specifically, Wagner et al. reported that parent expectations that their adolescent with a disability would continue on to a postsecondary education program were significantly related to the likelihood that adolescents actually attended postsecondary schooling. Newman (2005) examined the association of parent's postschool expectations on more proximal outcomes within the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) sample of adolescents with disabilities. Namely, parent expectations that adolescents with disabilities would attend postsecondary education or training was significantly related to (a) higher levels of classroom engagement, (b) higher grades, (c) reading and test scores that were a year closer to their grade level, and (d) positive social adjustment.

Even less research has sought to understand potential moderators and mediators of parent expectations on outcomes of adolescents with disabilities. For example, parent expectations may have a differential impact on outcomes of certain subgroups of adolescents with disabilities (moderation). In addition, parent expectations may impact outcomes by its influence on more proximal factors such as adolescents' beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors (mediation) as indicated by social cognitive and expectancy-value theories. The current study focused on examining the relationship between parent expectations and adolescents' achievement of important school and postschool benchmarks, including graduating from high school with a standard diploma, postschool employment, and enrollment/completion of postsecondary education. Understanding the direct relationship between parent expectations on these outcomes and potential moderators and mediators of this relationship has important implications for future research, theory, and practice in supporting the transition of adolescents from secondary to adult roles and settings. …

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