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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2007-039
September 2007

Indicator 5: Parental Education

Research has shown a link between parental education levels and child outcomes such as educational experience and academic achievement. For example, children with highly educated mothers were more likely than other children to participate in early childhood education programs and home literacy activities (U.S. Department of Education 2006, indicator 2; U.S. Department of Education 2003, indicator 37). In addition, children with highly educated parents earned higher average reading and mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) than did children with less-educated parents (U.S. Department of Education 2005, indicators 9 and 10). Despite an increase in the overall level of educational attainment since 1990 (see indicator 27), differences in parental educational attainment levels persist across racial/ethnic groups.

In 2005, Asian/Pacific Islander and White children ages 6 to 18 were more likely to have parents with higher levels of educational attainment than were Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native children. The percentages of Asian/Pacific Islander children (45 percent) and White children (32 percent) whose mothers had at least a bachelor's degree were higher than the percentages of Black (15 percent), Hispanic (10 percent) and American Indian/Alaska Native children (8 percent) whose mothers had this level of educational attainment. No measurable difference was detected between the percentage of White and Asian/Pacific Islander children with mothers who had at least a bachelor's degree, due in part to large standard errors. A higher percentage of White children (9 percent) than Black (5 percent) and Hispanic children (2 percent) had mothers with a graduate degree. The percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander children whose mothers had a graduate degree was not measurably different from those of other races/ethnicities, again due to a large standard error. In addition, no measurable differences were detected between the percentages of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native children whose mothers had a graduate degree.

A different pattern existed among the racial/ethnic groups regarding father's educational attainment. Asian/Pacific Islander children had a higher percentage of fathers with at least a bachelor's degree (48 percent) than did White (35 percent), Black (17 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (12 percent), or Hispanic children (11 percent). The percentage of White children whose fathers had at least a bachelor's degree was also higher than the percentages of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native children whose fathers had this level of attainment. In addition, Asian/Pacific Islander children had the highest percentage of fathers with a graduate degree (21 percent), compared to White (13 percent), Black (4 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (4 percent), and Hispanic children (3 percent), and the percentage of White children with fathers who had a graduate degree was higher than those of Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic children. No measurable differences were found among the percentages of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native children whose fathers had a graduate degree.

View Table View Table 5

Differences were also apparent across racial/ethnic groups in the lower levels of parental educational attainment. Hispanic children had the highest percentage of mothers who were not high school completers (41 percent), compared to Black (18 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander, (16 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (12 percent), and White children (6 percent). Similarly, Hispanic children had a higher percentage of fathers who were not high school completers (41 percent) than did American Indian/Alaska Native (15 percent), Black (11 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander (8 percent), and White children (7 percent).

View Table View Figure 5

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education