Parent Involvement Being Taken to a New Level
In stark contrast to the conventional parent involvement strategies utilized in most school districts, local school officials in New York City are being encouraged to go door to door and engage school parents where they live in meaningful conversations about their children’s education. “Bringing families into their child’s education is essential,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, said. “Study after study shows that family engagement improves student performance and attendance.” There is evidence showing that unlike what is taking place in New York City most types of parent involvement have at best a minimal impact on a child’s education. Keith Robinson, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, and Angel L. Harris, a professor at Duke, analyzed surveys of American families in conjunction with children’s academic records. They found that most types of parental involvement, like fund-raising or sitting on the parent teacher association, had little or no effect on children’s academic performance. Dr. Robinson said it was emotionally appealing to think that parents going to school events or helping with homework would lead to better academic results, but his research did not support that idea. “There’s no evidence to suggest that if you tell everybody to be involved in the same ways that you’ll produce wholesale changes in academic achievement,” he said. In New York City, parent involvement is being taken to a new level. It will be important to see if and how it impacts student learning.