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Scholars Put Price Tag On Parent Involvement

“Parental Effort, School Resources, and Student Achievement”

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A study Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader suggests that parental involvement in children’s schooling pays off—to the tune of about $1,000 per student, to be precise.

“Parental involvement is consistently associated with higher levels of achievement, and the magnitude of the effect of parental effort is substantial,” said Karen Smith Conway, a co-author of the study, which was published last month in the Journal of Human Resources. “We found that schools would need to increase per-pupil spending by more than $1,000 in order to achieve the same results that are gained with parental involvement,” added Ms. Conway, an economist at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham.

For the study, Ms. Conway and her research colleague, Andrew Houtenville, drew on data from a federal study that tracked 10,000 8th graders from public and private schools into early adulthood.

Among their other findings, the researchers determined that some types of parental involvement matter more than others for student achievement. Having dinnertime conversations around schoolwork, for example, proved to be more valuable than volunteering at school.

The study also found that parents tended to be more engaged in schooling with daughters than with sons—possibly because daughters may be more communicative. The analysis also showed that parental involvement may be something of a zero-sum game: Parents scaled back their involvement by a small amount as schools added new resources.

Vol. 27, Issue 39, Page 4

Published in Print: June 4, 2008, as Scholars Put Price Tag On Parent Involvement
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