Parent Involvement Affects Student Achievement

We are just getting back into the swing of things in the new school year and I thought I would take a moment to reiterate how important it is to be involved with your child’s school work.   A new report shows that creating a partnership between parents and schools that is focused on academics truly does have a significant impact on student achievement. 

What Kind of Involvement Works Best?

We may find it time-consuming and sometimes challenging but a major report by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) found one common factor in programs that produced the highest achievement gains: “Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home are linked to higher student achievement.” Examples for younger children include:

  • A literacy program in Minnesota that created home and school activities for kindergartners and their families.  These assignments generated significant positive gains in the children’s scores. Additionally, children who began the program with the lowest scores recorded the greatest gains.
  • In West Virginia, schools sought to enhance parents’ skills by offering workshops at school entrance at which the adults received learning packets in reading and math and training on how to use them. Students with more highly involved parents made stronger reading and math gains than less involved parents. Most importantly, family income had no effect on involvement, as low-income families were just as likely to attend the workshops as higher-income families.

For older students, parent involvement with academics should largely focus on conveying high expectations to your children.  For example, encouraging students to take and succeed in rigorous courses with an eye toward college is extremely important.

How do schools engage families in supporting learning at home?

Interactive homework assignments that bring together parents and their children work best. For example, at the elementary level, a parent describes their child’s work to the teacher on the activities and whether the child understands a concept or needs more help. At the high school level, activities should require more specific parent involvement to complete, and the parents can then let the teacher know whether the assignment helped them learn what their child is doing in class.

So get involved—and watch your child’s learning experiences improve!  The full report is available at The Center for Public Education.  Have a great year.