Did you know…
Students whose parents are involved in their education, no matter what their income or background, 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
- • Graduate and go on to post-secondary education.
When parents are involved, schools benefit too -– from higher morale, increased teacher effectiveness, and greater job satisfaction.
Summary of nearly three decades of research in Anne T. Henderson and Karen L. Mapp in A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement (Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 2002.
When Massachusetts passed it own education reform law, the Masachusetts Education Reform Act (MERA) in 1993, parental involvement was an important part of it. Now, parental involvement is a pillar of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the sweeping federal education reform law, which became the law of the land in 2002. Parents are mentioned over 640 times in the law. One section of the law, Section 1118, is completely devoted to spelling out how parents should be included and involved in their children’s schools.
NCLB defines parental involvement as:
…the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities including:
• Assisting their child’s learning;
• Being actively involved in their child’s education at school;
• Serving as full partners in their child’s education and being included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child; and
• The carrying out of other activities such as those described in Section 1118 of [the law].
NCLB continues a legislative commitment to parental involvement that began in 1965 with the original passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), of which NCLB is the most recent title. NCLB envisions parents not only as participants, but also as informed and empowered decision makers in their children’s education.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR SUPPORTING PARENT/FAMILY INVOLVEMENT
Educators may not always be aware of how their own attitudes and actions may affect whether or not parents become and stay involved in their children’s education. Supporting family involvement begins with building relationships. National leaders, researches, and others working to increase parental involvement offer concrete suggestions:
The testimony of Anne T. Henderson before the U.S. Senate on March 29, 2007, focused on effective practices for and benefits of involving families. In her testimony, Henderson summarizes 7 “big stories” from the research. This excerpt focuses on 2 of the stories: linking involvement to learning, building and sustaining effective partnerships with families.
Offers many resources about practical ways schools are involving parents.
Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp, Beyond the Bake Sale: The essential guide to family-school partnership, published in 2007, is packed with tips from principals and teachers on how to form these essential partnerships and how to make them work.
Karen Mapp of the Family Involvement Network in Education discusses how to link involvement of families to learning.
The Parent Institute gives concrete examples of 10 ways for supporting parent involvement.
A brief summary is available as well. 10 Things Any School Can Do to Build Parent Involvement . . . Plus Five Great Ways to Fail!