The unobserved power of context: Can context moderate the effect of expectations on educational achievement?

Amit Lazarus, Nabil Khattab*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing evidence that shows that social context is becoming less significant in influencing educational achievements and expectations. Additionally, evidence indicates that expectations are high across the board and becoming of declining significance to educational achievement. In light of this, we reexamine and offer an alternative to the renowned linear models connecting background variables to scholarly achievement via pupils' educational expectation. Analysis of GCSE scores, using three consecutive waves of the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, reveals that the verity of this classical claim is dependent on occupational class, ethnic origin, and school socio-economic status level. These results thus confirm an unrecognized effect of family and school background variables on achievement—not only to engender expectations but also to moderate their influence. This recognition expands and deepens understanding of inequality in educational achievement and social mobility by treating expectations as a resource and analytically distinguishing between the ability of a social group or a certain school to attain or create high expectations and their ability to capitalize on it and translate these into achievements. We find that in many cases, expectations still possess strong potential to transform into achievement, while in others they are high across the board and rather inconsequential.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date31 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2018

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


  • class
  • educational achievements
  • Educational expectations
  • ethnicity
  • inequality
  • school effects
  • social mobility
  • stratification


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