What Schools Want Parents to Know
During the past several years, the topic of how to increase parent and family involvement in schools has been the subject of many research studies, articles, and speeches. It is likely that every school in the country devotes some portion of its annual plan to explaining how it will increase parent involvement. Yet as widely used as this term is, its meaning isn’t always clear. Some equate involvement with chaperoning field trips or volunteering for PTA committees. Others define it as attendance at an open house or signing homework folders.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (2002) provides a very specific definition that answers the question “What is parent involvement?” It defines parental involvement as “the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities” (Sec. 9101 ). Parents, the law suggests, should be full partners in their child’s education, play a key role in assisting in their child’s learning, and be encouraged to be actively involved at school (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Phrases in this definition such as two-way, key role, and full partners reinforce the notion that parents are entitled to participate with the school in their children’s education and that they should. To encourage that participation, this month’s newsletter summarizes five important points about involvement that every parent should know.
Parent Involvement Makes a Difference for Students
The research is in, and it is clear. Study after study has shown that the involvement of parents and families in the schooling of their children makes a significant difference. Regardless of income and background, students with parents who are involved in their academic careers are more likely to earn high grades and test scores, enroll in higher level programs, and be promoted. These students attend school regularly, show improved behavior, adapt well to school, and have better social skills (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). The findings hold true across all segments of society—poor, minority, and middle class. All students do better when their parents are involved in their school lives, and “Parent and community involvement that is linked to student learning has a greater effect on achievement than more general forms of involvement” (p. 38).
Reprinted with the permission of the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. © 2008 Learning Point Associates. All rights reserved.
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