The series of articles in this issue test conceptual models of the processes by which levels of educational attainment are passed from one generation to the next. Collectively, the investigations indicate that although proximal family processes mediate the relation between parent education and children's educational achievement, these processes may differ at different life phases. The studies point to the need to understand how and why these processes vary in different ethnic groups. One investigation considers the benefits accrued to children when mothers with low levels of education attend school. Because the parent-to-child educational attainment relation is strongest for parents with low levels of education, future work on cycle breaking would benefit from expanding mediational models into other systems in children's lives.