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Previous research in educational stratification has revealed that one of the mechanisms a child’s family background may affect school outcomes is through its influence on teacher-student relationships at school. Going beyond the conventional modeling of using only measures of the family’s socioeconomic situation, this article incorporate the teachers’ perspectives of the importance of the children’s family background into the examination of teachers’ evaluations of children’s learning capacity and their expectations for the children’s future school attainment, using a unique dataset from rural Gansu in northwest China. The analysis results reveal that teachers’ perceptions of the importance of children’s family background are closely associated with teachers’ evaluations and educational expectations of children, beyond children’s academic achievement and their family’s actual socioeconomic situations; and teachers’ expectations at early time point help to predict children’s later school persistence. The findings point to the importance of bringing teachers’ subjective perceptions into educational research, and the increasing importance of examining school-related factors to deepen our understanding of the different passageways through which family background leads to educational stratification.
Date Posted: 23 March 2011