WHY WORK SO HARD ON PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS?
What the Research Says
1In A New Generation of Evidence, Henderson and Berla state: “The evidence is now
beyond dispute. When schools work together with families to support learning, children
tend to succeed not just in school, but throughout life”. Three decades of research have
demonstrated that parent-family involvement is a “critical element of effective
schooling”. Family involvement significantly contributes to improved student outcomes.
Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and communities all derive benefits from
family involvement, as illustrated in the following table.
Benefits of Better Parent/School Collaboration
Benefits of Better Parent/School Collaboration
• More positive attitudes toward school • Greater knowledge of education
• Higher achievement, better attendance, programs and how schools work
and more homework completed • Knowledge of how to be more supportive
consistently of children
• Higher graduation rates and enrollment • Greater confidence about ways to help
rates in postsecondary education children learn
• Better schools to attend • More positive views of teachers
• Greater empowerment
Teachers and Administrators Communities
• Greater teaching effectiveness • Greater strength through collaboration
with schools and parents
• Higher expectations of students
• Greater impact of services through a
• Increased ability to understand family
comprehensive, integrated approach
views and cultures
• Increased access to services for families
• Greater appreciation of parent volunteers
• Greater sense of community
• Improved morale
• Greater sense of community
1 Henderson, A. T., & Berla, N. (Eds.). (1994).
A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement (A report from the National
Committee for Citizens in Education). Washington, DC: Center for Law and Education.
Research shows that people and communities thrive when efforts towards
change are based on strengths of the individual and community, rather than
the deficits. This strengths-based approach towards parent engagement
creates a positive and respectful framework for building relationships. (The
FCUSD Parent Engagement Project; Americorps*VISTA 2008).
In a bibliographical analysis of more than 60 research articles published during the past
decade on the impact of family involvement on student outcomes, 2Carter made 12 key
1. Effective parent/family involvement improves student outcomes throughout the
2. While parent/family involvement improves student outcomes, variations in culture,
ethnicity, and/or socioeconomic background affect how families are involved.
3. Parent/family involvement at home has more impact on children than
parent/family involvement in school activities.
4. The nature of effective parent/family involvement changes as children reach
5. Parent/family involvement in early childhood programs helps children succeed in
their transition to kindergarten and elementary school.
6. Parents/families may need guidance and assistance in how to effectively support their
children with homework.
7. The many ways that families of differing cultural/ethnic backgrounds are involved in
their children’s education are valuable and should be respected when planning
parent/family involvement programs.
8. Improved student outcomes have been documented in mathematics and literacy when
parents/families are involved.
9. The most promising opportunity for student achievement occurs when families,
schools, and community organizations work together.
10. To be effective, school programs must be individualized to fit the needs of the
students, parents, and community.
11. Effective programs assist parents in creating a home environment that fosters
learning and provides support and encouragement for their children’s success.
Carter,S. (2002) The Impact of parent/family involvement on student outcomes: AN annotated bibliography of research during the
past decades. Eugene, OR: Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special education (CADRE)
12. Teachers and administrators must be trained to promote effective parent/family
Parent involvement has practical value in that it can make teaching easier
and more effective, which enhances student achievement.
Parent involvement has two aspects: cognitive-intellectual (help with homework and
personal engagement (asking about school). Teachers are uniquely positioned to help
parents optimize their role in children’s education.
Teachers who invite parental involvement tend to report higher levels of teaching
efficacy and support from parents, and tend to be perceived by parents as better
The variable most strongly attached to adolescent achievement is parents’ at-
home discussion of school related activities.
Research shows that teachers’ classroom management practices benefit from
increased parental involvement.
Parents are important to a learner centered approach to teaching because they
are sources of critical information about students, such as interests, learning style
and learning history.
Parents are important to student engagement in the classroom because they have
considerable influence on children’s’ attitudes towards school. Teaching is easier
and more effective when students are motivated to learn.
Parental involvement practices are essential to support student motivation
because they convey to the child that learning is valuable and important.
Parents and teachers together create a context for the development of children’s
self-regulated learning and engagement in school.
Students are influenced by parenting and teaching styles, therefore consonance
or dissonance between the styles predicts student engagement in school.
Students who practice positive self-regulated learning are better learners; parent
involvement has a direct correlation with positive self-regulated learning.
Children’s ability to self-regulate is related to their interactions with important
others, i.e. parents and teachers.
Self-regulation is fostered when parents and teachers all have high expectations,
hold students accountable for their behavior, use reason to gain compliance and
offer strong emotional support.
Parent scaffolding, which can be taught to parents, predicts children’s positive
attention to teacher instruction, classroom participation, appropriate help-
seeking, self-monitoring and metacognitive talk.
How to create a vibrant home-school community:
o Convey to parents that this is “our” school
o Acknowledge existing home-school bridges
o Professional development for teachers regarding parental involvement
o Enhanced school-parent communication
o Develop in-school resources that support teacher and family
communication (parent resource area; family-school coordinators are but
a few examples)
o School staff should view parent engagement as an educational resource
and know how to tap its power.
Adapted from “Why Research on Parental Involvement Is Important to Classroom Management”, Joan M.T. Walker;
Kathleen V. Hoover-Dempsey In C Evertson C Weinstein Eds. The Handbook of Classroom Management (2006); Issue:
25, Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum, Pages: 665-684
Traditional and Non-Traditional Approaches to ELL
Traditional Non -Traditional
Assists families with parenting and Develops reciprocal understanding of
childrearing skills, and with schools and families.
creating home conditions to
Communicates with families about Situates cultural strengths of family and
school programs and student community within the school
progress with two-way curriculum.
Includes recruiting efforts to involve Provides parental education that
families as volunteers and includes family literacy and
audiences. understanding school community.
Involves families with their children in Promotes parental advocacy that
learning activities at home, informs and teaches parents how to
including homework and other advocate for their children.
Includes families as participants in Instills parental empowerment through
school decisions, governance, and parent-initiated efforts at the school
advocacy through councils and and community level.
Collaborates and coordinates with the Implements culturally and linguistically
work and community-based appropriate practices in all aspects of
agencies, colleges and other groups communication.
to strengthen school programs.