Beliefs and Achievement: A Study of Black, White, and Hispanic Children

Harold W. Stevenson*, Chuansheng Chen, David H. Uttal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


School achievement among black, white, and Hispanic elementary school children was investigated, and efforts were made to study the beliefs about academic achievement of the children and their mothers. A total of approximately 3,000 first, third, and fifth graders enrolled in 20 schools in the Chicago metropolitan area were given achievement tests in mathematics and reading. Black and Hispanic children performed at a significantly lower level than white children, but at fifth grade ethnic differences in mathematics scores were no longer significant when mothers' education was statistically controlled. This was not the case in reading, where differences were found after controlling for the effects of mothers' education. Interviews with subsamples of approximately 1,000 mothers and children revealed greater emphasis on and concern about education among minority families than among white families. Black and Hispanic children and mothers evaluated the children and their academic abilities highly; they were positive about education and held high expectations about the children's future prospects for education. Mothers of minority children and teachers in minority schools believed more strongly than white mothers and teachers in the value of homework, competency testing, and a longer school day as means of improving children's education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-523
Number of pages16
JournalChild development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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