Skip to content

Resources > Data Briefs

Parent Encouragement of Good Grades

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Figure 1: Percent of Students with a B+ or higher by Parental Encouragement

Figure 2: Percentage of Students with a B+ or Higher by Parental Expectations

Most parents want their children to excel in school and achieve good grades. But what is expected of the children and encouraged of the children can vary from family to family. How significant is the extra push from parents and what affect does it have on the report card?

Participants of the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) were asked in 12th grade about parent behaviors toward math and science classes. Participants were also asked about the grades they received in both of these classes. First the participants were asked if their parents encouraged hard work in both math and science, in separate questions. Students were then asked if their parents expected them to do well in math and in science, again in separate questions.

The answers given were compared with their grades in the respective subject, either math or science. Those who had grades of roughly a B-plus or higher were extracted and compared (see Figure 1 and Figure 2). In all cases, students whose parents encouraged hard work or expected them to do well were significantly more likely to have grades of a B-plus or higher than those whose parents did not. In every instance, the number of "good" grades increased by over five percent when the parents were encouraging and had higher expectations.

It may not help to reward children for their good grades (see data brief of August 7, 2008), but encouraging hard work and expecting good grades may be enough encouragement for children to achieve good grades. LSAY participants, who now have children of their own, may find this useful in their own home.

Prepared by Amanda Misko