This study focused on high school students’ and their mothers’ attitudes and orientations toward higher education and employment, drawing data from multiple sources. A questionnaire survey was administered to all twelfth-grade students attending Louisville Public Schools (N=2,067). The survey included questions about the students’ curriculum placement or course in school (e.g. college preparatory, vocational), occupational and educational plans and aspirations, involvement in extracurricular activities, and responses to items measuring academic self-esteem and locus of control. The surveys also gathered information on the students’ families, including the number of siblings, mother’s and father’s education, father’s occupation, and father’s presence (or absence), and friendship choices, including the names of three senior class friends from the student’s school. Additional survey questions addressed attitudes about the school’s quality; parental reactions to grades; family plans; influential persons; family relationships; attitudes about political radicals, women, and blacks; and demographic characteristics. Additional information, including students’ cumulative grade-point averages and verbal intelligence test scores, was obtained from school records.
Data were also collected through interviews with mothers of the students (N=436, plus 67 additional mothers whose children were not surveyed). These interviews provided information on family income, mother’s occupation, and mothers’ responses to measures of parental attitudes and values.
This study was supported by funding from the Public Health Service (MH24616-01; RR7031) and the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington.