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Parent Involvement in Education
Kathleen Cotton and Karen Reed Wikelund | |The Schooling Practices That Matter Most

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by Kathleen Cotton
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INTRODUCTION
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It is no wonder that parent involvement with the schools has become a major educational issue in the 1980s. 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. Is parent involvement a valuable, if largely untapped, resource for schools struggling to provide state-ofthe -art instruction with diminishing funds--a way to instill pride and interest in schooling, increase student achievement, and enhance a sense of community and commitment? Or is it one more responsibility to add to overburdened teachers and administrators--or even a threat to the autonomy and professionalism of the schools? This review of the literature on parent involvement examines these issues, focusing, in particular on the following five areas: • Does parent involvement have positive effects on student achievement? If so, what type of involvement works best? • What are the effects of parent involvement on other student outcomes, such as attitude, self-concept, classroom behavior, and attendance? • Is parent involvement useful beyond the preschool and early elementary grades--in middle school and high school? If so, what form should it take? • What is known about the uses of parent involvement in predominantly minority and/or lower income communities? • What, if any, effects on children's schooling can be attributed to parent involvement in the governance of schools? [pic]

DEFINITION OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT
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The term "parent involvement" is used broadly in this report. It includes several different forms of participation in education and with the schools. Parents can support their children's schooling by attending school functions and responding to school obligations (parent-teacher conferences, for example). They can become more involved in helping their children improve their schoolwork--providing encouragement, arranging for appropriate study time and space, modeling desired behavior (such as reading for pleasure), monitoring homework, and actively tutoring their children at home. Outside the home, parents can serve as advocates for the school. They can volunteer to help out with school activities or work in the classroom. Or they can take an active role in the governance and decision making necessary for planning, developing, and providing an education for the community's children. [pic]

THE PARENT INVOLVEMENT LITERATURE
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There are literally hundreds of books, journal articles, and stand-alone reports on the subject of parents' involvement in their children's education. These writings include research reports, expert opinions, theory papers, program descriptions, and guidelines for setting up programs. A great many of these reports are informative and useful, and, because parent involvement has become a "hot topic" in the past few years, there is considerable current information. The present report synthesizes information from fortyone documents on different aspects of parent involvement. Because several of these are review/summaries of still other documents, many additional writings are represented. Documents were selected to reflect research on the effects of parent involvement on student achievement and other student outcomes. Twenty-five of the supporting documents are research studies, eight are reviews, and eight are program descriptions and research-based...
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