Report finds that involving parents in their children’s homework can improve academic outcomes
Alexandria, Va. (August 30, 2011) – The National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education today released a new report, "Back to School: How Parent Involvement Affects Student Achievement" examining what research says about the relationship between parent involvement and student outcomes.
"Families working in close partnership with teachers can have a measurable impact on their child’s academic achievement, particularly when they are focused on helping students do well in school," said Patte Barth, Director of the Center. "While parent involvement is no substitute for good classroom instruction, it can make the job much easier for everyone -- teachers, parents, guardians, and students themselves."
The report examines various ways parents get involved with their local schools and finds that something as simple as engaging families in their children’s homework can be one of the best ways to advance their learning.
"Such involvement is fairly straightforward in elementary school, but it’s also possible later on," said Barth. "At the middle and high school level, school outreach that supports the family’s own high expectations for their children can also improve attendance and encourage college going."
Michael A. Resnick, NSBA's Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Public Policy added, "The start of the new school year is an opportune time for parents and school leaders to think about and commit themselves to how parent involvement can best help America's school children achieve. Yet federal or state mandates are not the solution. Parent involvement plans and strategies work best when defined and implemented locally, taking into account the unique characteristics of the school community."
Major findings of the report:
- Parent involvement is high. About nine in 10 parents report having attended a school or PTA or PTO meeting in the past year, while eight in 10 attended a parent-teacher conference. Family income is not a factor in the level of parent involvement; low-income families are as likely to report being involved as those with higher incomes.
- Parent involvement can produce better student outcomes. A Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) synthesis of 51 studies showed that students with involved parents were more likely to: earn higher grades and scores; enroll in higher-level programs; be promoted; earn credits; have better attendance and social skills; graduate and attend college. However, not all parent involvement is related to student gains.
- Six categories of parent involvement. Johns Hopkins researcher Joyce Epstein identifies these as: Parenting (schools help with parenting skills); communicating; volunteering; learning at home; decision making; and community collaboration.
- Of the six categories, support for learning at home produces the biggest student gains. SEDL found that “programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home are linked to higher student achievement.” Other studies have found that targeted outreach to parents also has a beneficial impact on improving attendance and helping students prepare for and enroll in postsecondary education.
- Encouraging parents and guardians to volunteer and attend school events can strengthen the central place public schools hold in the community. However, these activities do not have much impact on student achievement. There are many good reasons to encourage families’ involvement in school. But if the goal is to improve student outcomes, family-school partnerships that supplement student learning at home are the best bet.
The report is available for download on the Center’s website at: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Public-education/Parent-Involvement
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The Center for Public Education (www.centerforpubliceducation.org) is a national resource for credible and practical information about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. The Center provides up-to-date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve student achievement and engage public support for public schools. The Center is an initiative of the National School Boards Association.
Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through our state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. www.nsba.org