Families & the Community Explainer

Parent Involvement

By Ron Skinner — September 21, 2004 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

“When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.” That’s the conclusion of a recent report from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. The report, a synthesis of research on parent involvement over the past decade, goes on to find that, regardless of family income or background, “students with involved parents are more likely to:

  • Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs;
  • Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits;
  • Attend school regularly;
  • Have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school; and
  • Graduate and go on to postsecondary education” (Henderson & Mapp, 2002).

But if parents have a central role in influencing their children’s progress in school, research has shown that schools in turn have an important part to play in determining levels of parent involvement (Epstein, 2001). Working to include parents is particularly important as students grow older, and in schools with high concentrations of poor and minority students (Rutherford et al., 1997).

Data from the 2000 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that, nationally, 90 percent of 4th graders were in schools where a school official reported that more than half of parents participated in parent-teacher conferences. Among 8th graders, though, that proportion dropped to 57 percent.

A report from the U.S. Department of Education cites several reasons for the decline in involvement as children grow older. Parents of middle schoolers often report feeling that children should do homework alone, and that the parents shouldn’t try to help if they’re not experts in the subject. The structure of many middle schools can also deter parents. Middle schools are larger and more impersonal than most elementary schools, and students may receive instruction from several teachers, meaning parents no longer have one contact in the school who knows their child well (Rutherford et al., 1997).

But research also shows there are ways middle schools can overcome such impediments. Organizing a middle school so that at least one person knows each child well, keeping a “parent room” in the building, and sponsoring parent-to-parent communication and events are key parts of an effective parent-involvement program in the middle grades (Berla, Henderson, & Kerewsky, 1989).

Data also indicate that parent involvement can vary by poverty concentration and minority enrollment in the school. The 2000 NAEP survey found that 73 percent of white 4th graders were in schools in which lack of parent involvement was deemed not to be a problem, or to be only a minor problem. The same could be said for only 38 percent of black 4th graders, however, and 48 percent of Hispanic 4th graders. Efforts to recruit poor or non-English-speaking parents can include a bilingual hotline, transportation to the school for the parent, translation services, or child care (Rutherford et al., 1997). Among poor students, defined as those eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program, 42 percent of 4th graders were in schools where lack of parent involvement was not a problem or was only a minor problem. Of their better-off peers, 72 percent were in such schools.

According to the National Network of Partnership Schools, for parent involvement to flourish, it must be meaningfully integrated into a school’s programs and community. The network developed a framework of six types of parent involvement that schools can use to guide their efforts. It says schools can:

  • Help families with parenting and child-rearing skills;
  • Communicate with families about school programs and student progress and needs;
  • Work to improve recruitment, training, and schedules to involve families as volunteers in school activities;
  • Encourage families to be involved in learning activities at home;
  • Include parents as participants in important school decisions; and
  • Coordinate with businesses and agencies to provide resources and services for families, students, and the community (Epstein, 2001).

Related Tags:

How to Cite This Article
Skinner, Ron. (2004, September 21). Parent Involvement. Education Week. Retrieved Month Day, Year from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/parent-involvement/2004/09


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community 'I Need You to Wear a Mask to Protect My Child.' A Mom Fights for Vulnerable Students
Some parents see a tension between their medically vulnerable children's safety and their educational needs during the pandemic.
8 min read
Julia Longoria has joined a federal lawsuit by Disability Rights Texas against Texas Governor Greg Abbott over his ban on mask mandates in public schools. Longoria argues that the executive order prevents her child, Juliana, who is medically at-risk, from being able to attend school safely. Juliana Ramirez, 8, a third grader at James Bonham Academy in San Antonio, Texas, has ADHD and severe asthma which puts her at risk of complications from COVID-19.
Julia Longoria has joined a federal lawsuit by Disability Rights Texas against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his ban on mask mandates in public schools. Longoria argues that the executive order prevents her child, Juliana, 8, who is medically at risk, from being able to attend school safely.
Julia Robinson for Education Week
Families & the Community Reported Essay Pandemic Parents Are More Engaged. How Can Schools Keep It Going?
Families have a better sense of what their child is learning, but schools will have to make some structural shifts to build on what they started.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Families & the Community Opinion How to Preserve the Good Parts of Pandemic Schooling
Yes, there have been a few silver linings for student well-being in the pandemic. Let’s not lose them now, write two researchers.
Laura Clary & Tamar Mendelson
4 min read
A student and teacher communicate through a screen.
iStock/Getty
Families & the Community COVID Protocols Keep Changing. Here's How Schools Can Keep Parents in the Know
Parents and educators shared best practices for effective communication related to the pandemic. It all centers on transparency.
6 min read
communication information network 1264145800 b
cagkansayin/iStock/Getty