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Few States Require Parent-Involvement Training

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Although increasing parent involvement in education is increasingly viewed as a crucial component of education reform, most states offer prospective educators only a limited amount of training on how to work with parents, a study released last week concludes.

The study--conducted by the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs--was inspired by research showing the importance of parent involvement in academic success.

Authors of the 19-page report also cited federal officials' emphasis on increasing parent involvement, one of two new national education goals added in the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.

Joe Nathan, the director of the center and one of the authors of the study, which was underwritten by the Rockefeller Foundation, also noted that several national organizations have made it a priority.

For example, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education last month revised its standards for teacher training institutions to require that candidates complete a sequence of courses or fieldwork preparing them to work with parents.
But the report's authors, who reviewed state certification requirements and standards for educators, found that most states had minimal requirements for training in parent involvement and that some had none at all.

"We think more people need to pay attention to this issue,'' Mr. Nathan said.

What States Require

The study found that:

  • Only three states--Iowa, Minnesota, and Virginia--have specific coursework requirements in parent-involvement techniques for prospective elementary educators, and none require secondary school educators to complete such courses.
  • Fifteen states require special-education teachers to take parent-involvement courses, and 11 require early-childhood educators to do so.
  • In 13 states, standards for teacher training programs include parental-involvement requirements.

The center is now conducting a follow-up study that will examine parent programs in the states that have them, and will suggest ways educators can be trained to bring parents into the fold.

Copies of the report are available for $7.50 each from the Center for School Change, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota, 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55455.

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