Parent Involvement

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Parent Involvement in School Conceptualizing Multiple Dimensions and Their Relations with Family and Demographic Risk Factors

Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group

Parent Involvement (PI) in school is associated with more positive academic performance and social competence in children. However, there are inadequacies in curriculum measures of PI and a need for a better understanding of predictors of PI. In this study, measures were obtained from a normative sample of 387 children in kindergarten and first grade from high-risk neighborhoods in 4 different sites. First, a confirmatory factor analysis of a theoretical factor model of PI identified 6 reliable multiple-reporters PI factors: Parent-Teacher Contact, Parent Involvement at School, Quality of Parent-Teacher Relationship, Teacher’s Perception of the Parents, Parent Involvement at Home, and Parent Endorsement of School. Next, the relations among 3 specific family and demographic risk factor-parental education level, maternal depression and single-parent status-and these 6 PI factors were examined using path analyses in structural equation modeling. Results indicated that the 3 factors were differentially associated with the 6 PI factors: Parental education was significantly associated with 4 PI outcomes, maternal depression was significantly associated with 5 PI outcomes. No significant ethnic group differences between African American and Caucasian families were found in these relations.

Keywords: Parent-school relationship, Single parents, Depression, Parent educational background, Racial and ethnic differences.

Parent involvement (PI) in school is a topic of great interest for researches and practitioners. At this point, there is substantial evidence that PI is associated with children’s academic performance and social competence, and policymakers recognized the importance of involving parents in schools by incorporating federal legislation into the Goals 2000 Educate America Act. Given the importance of PI, identifying and understanding the variables impacting it is essential in developing interventions to enhance PI. Many family and demographic factors such as ethnicity, family composition, income, education level, and work status are associated with PI. When these variables are immutable, as in the case of many sociodemographic variables, their identification is useful in determining specific groups at risk for low levels of PI. With proper identification, interventions can target these at-risk populations with more outreach and added support. The goal of this study was to examine the relations between a circumscribed set of family and demographic risk factors and PI. Prior to examining these relations, we conceptualized PI along six dimensions and empirically validated this model.


Although many family and demographic variables are associated with PI, three were selected for this study: parental education level, single parent status and maternal depression – for the reasons enumerated below. In addition, ethnicity, another variable associated with PI, was examined as a moderator.

Several lines of evidence converge to suggest the importance of including parental education in this study. In one of the few studies that has directly examined the relation between parental education and PI, found that better educated parents are more involved at school and at home. The US Department of Education found that parents with higher levels of education report less satisfaction with school practices than parents with lower levels of education, suggesting that more highly educated parents feel more comfortable criticizing the school. Parents who see themselves as teachers and feel effective in helping their children in school are more likely to be involved. Parents’ view of their role as teacher and their comfort level communicating with teachers and helping their children with...
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