Extensive research has suggested that there is a large rural-urban student achievement gap in China. However, less is known about the effects of family background and parental expectations on student achievement. Using a large representative sample of Chinese eighth graders, this study examines these relationships. We find that: (1) Rather than a rural/urban hukou (household registration system) type, it is variation in family background, especially family socioeconomic status (SES), which plays a significant role in student achievement; (2) although factors of family background show different patterns of influence on Chinese, mathematics, and English achievement, maternal education and home educational resources are significantly positive predictors consistently across three subjects; (3) parental expectations are significantly and positively associated with Chinese, mathematics, and English achievement.
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