Modeling parental role in academic achievement: Comparing high-ability to low- and average-ability students

Sivaneswary PHILLIPSON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


The Vygotskyan (1978) perspective on child development suggests that parents play a significant role in mediating the relationship between students’ intellectual ability and their achievement. This study, hence, path-modeled and compared high-ability students to low-ability and average-ability students, the relationships that exist between parental factors and students’ intellectual ability in predicting students’ academic achievement in English, Chinese and mathematics in one Hong Kong Chinese primary school. Measures of parent factors included parental estimates of their school and home involvement, parental beliefs of their children’s ability and parental expected scores in academic subjects. Measures of student intellectual ability was obtained through Ravens Progressive Matrices test, and expressed as deviation IQ. Students’ achievement measures were final year school reported grades using a 7-point scale (1=lowest achievement to 7=highest achievement). The total sample of 780 students consisted of 161 high-ability students (IQ>115), 467 average-ability students (90≤IQ≤115), and 152 low-ability students (IQ<90). It was found that, having controlled for grade level and gender, parental affective factors (as indicated by mainly parental expectations and moderated by parental income), fully mediated student ability in predicting mathematics, English and Chinese achievement for high-ability students. Similar results were found for average-ability students with variations in moderating variables. Parental affective factors of low-ability students directly impacted upon their children’s achievement. These findings show that parents play an important mediatory role in predicting student achievement for more able students whilst parents play even a bigger role for low-ability students. These results confirm the impact of parents’ role in supporting and developing their children’s academic achievement, regardless of their children’s ability. Copyright © 2010 International Research Association for Talent Development and Excellence. The journal web site is located at
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-103
JournalTalent Development & Excellence
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


academic achievement
school grade
primary school


Phillipson, S. (2010). Modeling parental role in academic achievement: Comparing high-ability to low- and average-ability students. Talent Development & Excellence, 2(1), 83-103.


  • High-ability students,
  • Academic achievement
  • Parental expectations
  • Belief and involvement