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Involvement of Fathers Boosts Achievement

Parent involvement in schools is often limited to mothers, but fathers have an important role to play in their children's success in school, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.

Children whose fathers are actively involved in their schools are more likely to get high grades and join extracurricular activities than their peers whose fathers don't participate in school activities, the report says.

"Fathers' involvement may be particularly important to children's academic standing, especially among children in the 6th through 12th grade," it says.

Yet, mothers in two-parent households were twice as likely to be involved at their children's schools than the fathers were, according to the study, which is based on a 1996 survey of almost 17,000 K-12 children and their families.

"Fathers' Involvement in Their Children's Schools," free, from the National Library of Education, (800) 424-1616.

Responsible Fatherhood: States across the country have financed a wide range of programs to promote responsible fatherhood, from preventing childbearing too early to strengthening enforcement of child-support payments, according to a review of state initiatives published by the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University in New York City.

In the survey, 21 states reported implementing or piloting a school- or community-based program to prevent early fatherhood, and eight states reported developing curricula, usually for middle school students, to teach responsible fatherhood.

Thirty-nine states said they used public-awareness campaigns through television spots, brochures, or Internet announcements to encourage fathers to be attentive parents, but the messages varied.

Most campaigns gently encouraged fathers' involvement in their children's lives, but five states issued threatening messages designed to intimidate fathers into paying child support, according to the 179-page report.

The report also profiles promising strategies in different states that enhance child-support payments and promote family reintegration.

"Map and Track: State Initiatives to Encourage Responsible Fatherhood," $19.95, prepaid, from the National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia School of Public Health, 154 Haven Ave., New York, NY 10032; (212) 304-7100.

Child-Care Services: Comparing the ways in which states regulate their child-care markets can provide policymakers with worthwhile information about the supply and demand of services, says a report from the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University in New York City.

In Maryland, the researchers found, the supply of regulated child care is far less in those areas where a higher percentage of families are near poverty. But in Illinois, that is not the case.

Both states, however, lack regulated care during nontraditional hours, such as overnight or on weekends. Parents, therefore, are left to rely on relatives and other informal providers for care.

The study, which focuses exclusively on Illinois and Maryland, was conducted with assistance from the two states' human services departments and child-care resource and referral agencies.

The report only examined data on child-care centers and regulated family child-care homes.

"A Study of Regulated Child Care Supply in Illinois and Maryland," $5, prepaid, from the National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia School of Public Health, Attn: Publications, 154 Haven Ave., New York, NY 10032; (212) 304-7100. Checks should be made payable to Columbia University.

School Reform Efforts: New American Schools in Arlington, Va., has marked the fifth anniversary of its fieldwork with schools with a report on how its school reform efforts are progressing nationwide.

The report documents early indications of improvement for each of the organization's eight design-team projects. The nonprofit New American Schools, originally known as the New American Schools Development Corp., was created by a group of U.S. business leaders who wanted to underwrite the design of model schools.

The study covers gains by participating schools in such areas as student achievement, student and teacher engagement, curriculum and instructional changes, and family and community involvement.

For instance, virtually all of the design teams report higher standardized-test scores at the schools where the reforms are being undertaken.

"Working Towards Excellence: Results from Schools Implementing New American Schools Designs," free, from New American Schools, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Suite 2710, Arlington, VA 22209; (703) 908-9500; or on the Internet at

Teacher Training: The first fruit of a comprehensive teacher retraining effort in Hilton, N.Y., is a "fieldbook" featuring nine accounts of classroom research written by teachers for teachers.

The authors describe their struggles and successes as they negotiate changes in curriculum, learning, and assessment.

The 39-page report also includes comments by students and parents; a description of how the retraining fits with the district's school reform plan; and an essay by the project's consultant, Giselle O. Martin-Kniep.

"The CLASSIC Fieldbook," $10, from Hilton Central School District, 225 West Ave., Hilton, NY 14468; or e-mail

Mental-Health Programs: To showcase the types of high-quality programs school psychologists are bringing to districts across the country, the National Association of School Psychologists has released a state-by-state sampling of the most effective mental-health programs available to students.

The report details only the programs that meet various criteria, including integration of theory, research, and practice; the demonstration of a team-based approach to mental-health programming; and the ability to provide services ranging from prevention to treatment.

"Exemplary Mental Health Programs: School Psychologists As Mental Health Service Providers," free, from the National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814; (301) 657-0270.

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