Rebecca Deutscher, Ph.D. and Mary Ibe, M.A. Lewis Center for Educational Research, Apple Valley, California
Abstract This project examined the role that parent involvement has on children’s academic performance. Various types of parent involvement were assessed, including volunteering, home involvement, attending parent classes, school political involvement, talking to staff, talking to teachers, etc. Academic performance was measured by STAR test scores and by grades. Approximately 400 students in 7th through 11th grade were included. Overall, the results indicated that those who did the self-report survey, went to the parent class, or were involved in more home-type involvement (such as checking child’s planner, talking to child at home about school-related topics, or engaging in educational activities outside of school) had children that performed better in various areas of the STAR test or had better grades. Objectives and Perspective Parent involvement has been shown to be an important variable that positively influences children’s education. More and more schools are observing the importance and are encouraging families to become more involved. Because of this recent trend, it has become essential to understand what is meant by parent involvement and in what ways it has an influence on children’s education. A comprehensive view of involvement is presented by Epstein’s model. Epstein (1997) discussed how children learn and grow through three overlapping spheres of influence: family, school, and community. These three spheres must form partnerships to best meet the needs of the child. Epstein defined six types of involvement based on the relationships between the family, school, and community: parenting (skills), communicating, volunteering, learning at home,
decision making, and collaborating with the community. Epstein stressed the fact that all of these six types of involvement need to be included to have successful partnerships. Much of the research that examines the relationships between parent involvement and children’s education assesses parent involvement by utilizing one particular measure, such as counting the number of parents that volunteer, coming to meetings, or coming to parent-teacher conferences (Baker & Soden, 1997). Other studies utilize measures that consist of a few closedended questions that target a particular aspect of parent involvement and often focus on the number of times parents participate in particular events (Goldring & Shapira, 1993; Griffith, 1996; Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994; Zellman & Waterman, 1998). According to Baker & Soden (1997), this type of measure does not allow for a rich picture of parent involvement, nor generate new ideas. In the project summarized by this paper, many of these measures were included. Also added were home-related activities that encourage children’s education. Home-related activities included parents working with children on their homework, parents talking to children about school-related topics, and parents taking kids on fieldtrips. In addition, this study had open-ended questions to give the parents an opportunity to explain more about their involvement. The various areas of parent involvement were examined as they relate to Epstein’s six types of parent involvement. Research has indicated that family involvement improves facets of children’s education such as daily attendance (e.g. Cotton & Wikelund, 2001; Epstein & Sheldon, in press; Simon, 2000), student achievement (e.g. Brooks, Bruno, & Burns, 1997; Cotton & Wikelund, 2001; Henderson, 1987; Herman & Yeh, 1980; Sheldon & Epstein, 2001a; Simon, 2001; Van Voorhis, 2001; Zellman & Waterman, 1998), behavior (e.g. Cotton & Wikelund, 2001; Henderson, 1987;
Sheldon & Epstein, 2001b; Simon, 2000), and motivation (e.g. Brooks, Bruno, & Burns, 1997; Cotton & Wikelund, 2001; Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994). It was expected...