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The Association between Parental Educational Expectations and School Functioning among Young People with Disabilities: A Longitudinal Investigation

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  • Alexander W. O’Donnell
  • Gerry Redmond
  • Joanne Arciuli
  • Sally Robinson
  • Jennifer Skattebol
  • Parimala Raghavendra
  • Cathy Thomson
  • Joanna J. J. Wang
  • Eric Emerson
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Exceptional Children
Issue number1
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)60-78
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date24/04/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Past research has established clear educational inequities between young people with disabilities and their peers. In part, some of these inequities may be attributed to expectations. In this study, we examined whether parental expectations were related to school functioning at high school, with school functioning broadly defined as ease and frequency of engagement in school-based activities. Using the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children ( N = 3,956; 48.9% female; 5.01% with disability), we examined parental expectations and school functioning measured at three time-points, biennially from the ages of 12 and 13 through to 16 and 17. A multigroup, parallel latent growth curve analysis revealed that high parental expectations at the first timepoint predicted steeper increases in the trajectory of school functioning over time, but only among young people with disability. Parental expectations did not significantly predict school functioning trajectories for the remainder of the sample. Subsequent multigroup analyses that compared disability characteristics revealed that learning difficulties and speech problems, in particular, were associated with lower parental expectations. These results suggest that the perceptions of parents in the lives of young people with disability are important and efforts to shape them may have long-term benefits.