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Research Shows Parent Involvement in Education Mail to Me   
It is no wonder that parent involvement with the schools has become a major educational issue. This is an era of increasing concern about the quality of education in this country. States are taking a greater role in monitoring and maintaining academic standards. Communities are ever more watchful of the expense of public education. Local schools are concerned about continuing to provide high-quality teaching and other services with dwindling resources. And parents want assurance that their children will receive adequate preparation to lead rewarding adult lives.
 
A recent review of the research literature by Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory  found that, "clearly, parent involvement is effective in fostering achievement and affective gains at all levels, and schools are encouraged to engage and maintain this involvement throughout the elementary, middle school and secondary years".  Below are some excerpts from the article highlighting key findings by the researchers:

Student ‘s Achievement

The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that parent involvement in children's learning is positively related to achievement. Further, the research shows that the more intensively parents are involved in their children's learning, the more beneficial are the achievement effects. This holds true for all types of parent involvement in children's learning and for all types and ages of students.

Looking more closely at the research, there are strong indications that the most effective forms of parent involvement are those which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities in the home. Programs which involve parents in reading with their children, supporting their work on homework assignments, or tutoring them using materials and instructions provided by teachers, show particularly impressive results.

Along similar lines, researchers have found that the more active forms of parent involvement produce greater achievement benefits than the more passive ones.That is, if parents receive phone calls, read and sign written communications from the school, and perhaps attend and listen during parent teacher conferences, greater achievement benefits accrue than would be the case with no parent involvement at all. However, considerably greater achievement benefits are noted when parent involvement is active--when parents work with their children at home, certainly, but also when they attend and actively support school activities and when they help out in classrooms or on field trips, and so on.

The research also shows that the earlier in a child's educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects will be. Educators frequently point out the critical role of the home and family environment in determining children's school success, and it appears that the earlier this influence is "harnessed," the greater the likelihood of higher student achievement. Early childhood education programs with strong parent involvement components have amply demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach.

Attitude and Behavior

As might be expected, the pattern of parent involvement shown to confer the most positive effects on students' achievement is also the most beneficial with respect to these other student outcomes. In general, active parent involvement is more beneficial than passive involvement, but passive forms of involvement are better than no involvement at all. As for which specific kinds of involvement in children's learning have the greatest affective benefits, no clear answer emerges from the research. Whereas direct parent involvement in instruction seems to be the single most powerful approach for fostering achievement benefits, all of the active forms of parent involvement seem more or less equally effective in bringing about improvements in students' attitudes and behavior.


Middle and High School

Researchers have identified various differences in the incidence and types of parent involvement as students move through the upper elementary and secondary grades. They point out that parents generally become less involved as their children grow older for many reasons: schools are bigger and farther from home, the curriculum is more sophisticated, each student has several teachers, parents of older students are more likely to be employed, and students are beginning to establish some sense of separation and independence from their parents. For these reasons, the kinds of parent involvement engaged in by parents of younger children are no longer relevant or useful.

The research on the effectiveness of parent involvement with older students, therefore, often focuses on different forms of participation--e.g., parents monitoring homework, helping students make postsecondary plans and select courses which support these plans, parent-school agreements on rewards for achievement and behavioral improvements--as well as some of the "standby" functions, such as regular home-school communication about students' progress and parent attendance at school-sponsored activities.

Editorial Team, Mindfiesta
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