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The Importance of Parental Involvement in Improving Student Achievement in Urban Schools. Carol Mawhinney. Parental Involvement Is a Must!.
The Importance of Parental Involvement in Improving Student Achievement in Urban Schools Carol Mawhinney
Parental Involvement Is a Must! The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 views parental involvement as a key intervention for raising student achievement and bringing schools out of improvement status. The NCLB Act mentions parents over 300 times (Speth, 2008). This study looks at research that examines both quantitative and qualitative data to see if this is the case. Are there benefits of increased parental involvement in their children’s education? What are the key factors that attract or hinder parental involvement? How can schools increase parental involvement?
The lack of parental involvement goals in Title I schools’ improvement plans All Title I schools designated as in need of improvement are required by the NCLB Act to submit a two-year school improvement plan to their state agency. One massive study (Speth, 2008) examined how the improvement plans for Title I schools in the Northwest Region align with the parent involvement requirements of NCLB.
The results were disappointing… • The study determined that many of the 308 schools submitting improvement plans did not include additional parent involvement activities in their plans. • Twenty-five percent of school improvement plans included activities to help parents encourage learning at home. • Only 4% included activities to raise parents’ expectations for their children. • Less than half (46%) of the Northwest Region schools in need of improvement had plans that included all 3 components described in NCLB. • Even though the number of ELL students was on the rise from 1998-2003, and 75% of the schools in the study provided services to English language learner students, only 33% included details on how information would be provided for parents in their own languages (Speth, 2008, pp.17-18). • -
The underutilization of parental invovlement While parent involvement has been repeatedly cited as an important key to raising achievement levels, it has been “underutilized” in American schools (Willems, 2005). In part, this is a byproduct of an older, more traditional form of home-school relations known as the “protective model.” In this model, it was thought that for students to be able to achieve beyond their family backgrounds, they needed to be “protected” from their parents. What this attempted to achieve was a school culture that minimized the communications between parents and teachers in an effort to suppress any conflict with the parents. Strict boundaries were established between schools and parents. It was the educators’ job to do the educating. Parents need to stay out of the way (Kim, 2010, p. 145).
Teachers’ attitudes toward parents • Research done by David Wilkerson and Hea-Won Kim compared an inner-city high school with a suburban high school to see the similarities and differences in the teachers’ experiences with parent involvement (Kim, 2010). They asked 26 questions grouped into three parts, to see how the teachers viewed parents. • The survey included • 9 questions on the theme experiences parents as problems • 6 questions on experiences parents as collaborators, and • 4 questions on beliefs about parent competency. “No one likes to be an assumption.” - The Leader’s Legacy (Kouzes and Posner)
Teachers’ attitudes either hinder or encourage parental involvement • Suburban teachers generally viewed their parents as significantly more competent than their urban teacher counterparts. • There were “bivariate” correlations between study variables. Teachers who experience parents as problems were less likely to experience parents as collaborators, or to believe parents to have high competency. • At the same time, teachers who experienced parents as collaborators were also more likely to hold to beliefs about parent competency (Kim, 2010, p. 151). • In other words, teachers’ respective attitudes toward parents might either cause them to avoid encouraging greater parental involvement or motivate them to expect and pursue increased collaboration and participation.
Parents’ attitudes also either hinder or encourage their own involvement One key factor in parental involvement has to do with the attitudes parents have about their role in their children’s education. Parental role construction for involvement “may best be defined as parental beliefs about what one is supposed to do, as a parent, in relation to the child’s education and the behaviors characteristically enacted in service of these beliefs” (Kathleen V. Hoover-Dempsey, April 2004, p. 5). These beliefs motivate parents as they learn to imagine, anticipate, and plan ways they need to become more involved to help assure their children’s educational success.
Three different attitudes in parents about their involvement • There are three general ways that parents view themselves. • Some have a more passive view of their role: “It is the school’s responsibility to educate my child.” The old-school “protective model” mentioned earlier may contribute some to this attitude. • Others are more parent-focused, believing: “It is primarily my responsibility as the parent to educate my child.” • A third group sees education as a cooperative partnership between parent and teacher: “I must work together in partnership with my child’s teachers to insure the best educational experience” (Hoover-Dempsey, April 2004). • How parents come to one view rather than another has much to do with their own experiences with education and life. Less educated parents are more likely to be intimidated and less likely to be “proactively engaged” in their children’s education.
The parents must be proactive in their child’s education. “Parental involvement has been recognized increasingly as an important element in building school success.” (Levin, 2004) We must not neglect other essentials needed to boost student achievement. Parental involvement is not the “silver bullet”, but it is one important element among many.
Parent-Teacher collaboration is the key! • Collaboration – (kuh-lab-uh-rey-shuhn) n. The act of working together jointly, especially in intellectual endeavors. • Latin Roots: “to labor together.”
References Armario, Christine. "'Wake-up call': U.S. students trail global leaders." Associated Press 7 December 2010. Print. Gates, B. ( 2010). Speech to the American Federation of Teachers. Seattle. Hoover-Dempsey, K., Wilkins, A., Sandler, H., Jones O'Connor, K., (2004). Parental role construction for involvement: Interaction among theoretical, measurement, and pragmatic issues in instrument development. Nashville, TN: Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University. Kim, D. W.W. (2010). "'We have a lot of sleeping parents:' Comparing inner-city and suburban high school teachers' experiences with parent involvement." Advances in Social Work, 11( 2), 144-157. Kopp, W. (2011). A chance to make history: What works and what doesn't in providing an excellent education for all. New York: Public Affairs. Levin, B. (2004). " Poverty and inner-city education." Horizons, 7 (2), 45-50. Liepmann, E. (2010). U.S. Falls In World Education Rankings, Rated 'Average'. Huffpost Education.
References continued Noguera, P. A. (2008).The trouble with black boys. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons. Rothenberg, P. M. (October 2000). Why urban parents resist involvement in their children's elementary edcuation. The Qualitative Report, 5,( 3 & 4). Speth, T. S. & Saifer, S., & Forehand, G.(2008). Parent involvement activities in school improvement programs in the Norhwest Region. Issues & Answers Report, REL 2008-No. 064, 1-30. Wilkins, S. A. (2000). Parental involvement: A qualitative study of a unique charter school. Riverside, CA: University of California. Willems, A. R. D. (2005). Examining the underutilization of parent involvement in the schools. The School Community Journal, 13 (1), 85-99. Williams, T. K. (2005). Similar students, different results: Why do some schools do better? EdSource.