New Study Shows The Obvious – Regular Communication With Parents Helps Students

Study: Teacher Outreach to Parents Has ‘Under-Explored Potential’ in Schools is the recent headline in Education Week Teacher.

It reports on a new study from Harvard showing that parents who received a weekly message from their child’s teacher in a summer credit-recovery program resulted in improved student academic performance. The message, though, needed to include a specific recommendation for how the student could improve (attendance, behavior, etc.). This, in turn, predictably led to conversations between the parent and child about those actions.

A key element in the study, though, that hasn’t been highlighted in media reports about it is that the weekly contact wasn’t actually made by the teacher. The teacher would write a message about each student and then the researchers would communicate it to parents via phone, email or text (the parents had indicated a preference at the beginning of the study).

So, yes, weekly communication helps. Realistically, though, how many teachers are going to find the time to communicate individual messages to parents of all their students each week. Researchers report that it took teachers thirty minutes each week to write the messages for their fifteen students in the study but that doesn’t include the time it takes to track down the parents.

I’m still adding this post to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

You might also be interested in a similar study I wrote about earlier…

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“To Help Language-Learners, Extend Aid to Their Families Too, New Study Argues”

To Help Language-Learners, Extend Aid to Their Families Too, New Study Argues is an important post from Ed Week’s Learning The Language blog.

Here’s how it begins:

A new report from the Center for American Progress makes the case that communities looking to improve education for school-aged English-language learners should also offer services to their parents.

The study, “The Case for a Two-Generation Approach for Educating English Language Learners,” finds that limited English skills for parents and students “can create a poverty trap for families” and argues that engaging them simultaneously improves the academic and educational well-being of both generations.

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

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“Edmodo launches new app aimed at increasing parental involvement”

Edmodo launches new app aimed at increasing parental involvement is the headline of a piece in Education Dive.

Here’s how it begins:

Social learning network Edmodo this week announced the launch of an Edmodo for Parents app, allowing parents to track their child’s work and learn how they can help meet learning goals.

I’m adding it to A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Using Technology To Help Engage Parents.

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“Key to Vocabulary Gap Is Quality of Conversation, Not Dearth of Words”

Key to Vocabulary Gap Is Quality of Conversation, Not Dearth of Words is the headline of an Ed Week article by Sarah Sparks.

Here’s an excerpt:

The “30 million-word” gap is arguably the most famous but least significant part of a landmark study, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young Children, by the late University of Kansas child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley. As the work turns 20 this year, new research and more advanced measuring techniques have cast new light on long-overshadowed, and more nuanced, findings about exactly how adult interactions with infants and young children shape their early language development.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap.”

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“Parent Teacher Conferences: Something’s Got to Give”

Parent Teacher Conferences: Something’s Got to Give is the title of a post at Peter DeWitt’s blog in Ed Week.

Here’s an excerpt:

How many of us have sat through pointless or less-than-informational parent-teacher conferences? It often goes a little something like this: Mom asks, “How is Jeff doing in your class? I see he earned a “C,” and I want to know why.” Jeff sits silently, afraid the teacher will “spill-it” about what he has been up to in class. The teacher responds, “Sometimes Jeff does his work and is on-task, but other times he struggles to focus and talks too much. He loves to get the class going and cuts-up too much. I also have a problem with Jeff turning in his work.”

….What if we asked Jeff to articulate and provide proof his own learning? What if he prepared evidence of his learning to show himself, his teacher, and his parents what he had achieved through his own effort? What if we put him at the center of the conference and the learning?

I’m adding this to The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences.

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Most Popular Parent Engagement Posts In March/April

I’ve recently begun publishing a bi-monthly post sharing the most popular posts on parent engagement that I’ve published here. Some may have been published in other months, but still remained popular.

Here’s the second edition:

1, A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement

2. The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits

3. Jeez, What Was Ron Clark Thinking?

4. The Best Videos On Parent Engagement

5. The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers

6. “Parent End of Year Survey”

7. The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences

8. The Best Ideas On How Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed Academically

9. The Best Education Blogs For Parents

10. Useful Video For Parents: “Why Common Core math problems look so weird”

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Important New Research On Parent Involvement

The role of parents in young people’s education—a critical review of the causal evidence is the title of a new study.

Here’s the abstract:

There is currently a considerable body of research suggesting that parental involvement is linked to young people’s attainment at school. It is also generally agreed that a number of factors such as parental background, attention, warmth and parenting style are associated with children’s later life outcomes. However, although widely assumed on the basis of these associations, the nature of this causal link has not yet been established.

This paper summarises what would be needed to demonstrate that enhanced parental involvement produced better attainment and other outcomes, based on establishing an association, the correct sequence of events, sensitivity to intervention and an explanatory mechanism. It then reports on the findings of a systematic review of available and relevant studies, based on this approach. The search for evidence on the impact of attitudes, expectations and behaviour on attainment yielded 1,008 distinct reports. Of these, 77 were directly about the impact of parental involvement. These confirm that parental involvement and attainment are linked, and in the correct sequence for a causal model. There are several plausible mechanisms to explain why parental involvement might have an impact. And most crucially and unlike all other areas linking attitudes and behaviour to attainment, there is promising evidence that intervening to improve parental involvement could be effective.

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

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Online Chat (& Good Research Links) About Parent Engagement

The UK newspaper The Guardian is going to have an online chat for teachers about parent engagement this Wednesday (see Parental engagement: tips, tricks and how to make it work – live chat).

I think it will be interesting to see the comments and responses that show up in the chat, but I was particularly intrigued by a couple of links to related research in the Guardian announcement.

Because of those links, I’m going to add this post to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

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“Many residents unaware of changes in education, poll finds”

Many residents unaware of changes in education, poll finds is the headline of a San Francisco Chronicle story about the results of a recent statewide poll.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

California has overhauled how it teaches students, how it tests students and how it funds schools, yet a majority of taxpayers and parents say they have heard little about the changes, according to a poll released Wednesday.

While state students are in the middle of taking new standardized tests, called the Smarter Balanced Assessments, the survey of 1,706 residents found that more than half of public school parents, 55 percent, have heard nothing about them, and another 36 percent had heard just a little. That’s 91 percent combined…

…“Many public school parents are in the dark when it comes to Common Core,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California, which conducted the survey. “Local schools need to do a better job of keeping parents informed as the state implements the new English and math standards.”

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Yes, Despite What A Recent Study Says, It Does Matter How Much Time You Spend With Your Kids

Here’s how a recent Washington Post article described the results of a new study:

In fact, it appears the sheer amount of time parents spend with their kids between the ages of 3 and 11 has virtually no relationship to how children turn out, and a minimal effect on adolescents, according to the first large-scale longitudinal study of parent time to be published in April in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The finding includes children’s academic achievement, behavior and emotional well-being.

Fortunately, a subsequent New York Times piece, Yes, Your Time as a Parent Does Make a Difference, made mincemeat of the research….

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“Thousands of Kids Opt Out of Standardized Common Core Tests Across U.S.”

Thousands of Kids Opt Out of Standardized Common Core Tests Across U.S. is the headline for an article in TIME.

Here’s how it begins:

Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance.

This “opt-out” movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing.

I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children.

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“Ten Conversation Starters for Parents”

Ten Conversation Starters for Parents is a good post from John Spencer. They include some good questions teachers can ask, too.

Here’s one example:

What was the most interesting thing you learned in school today?

As a dad, I want to hear my kids geek out about something cool they learned in school. It might be fractions or volcanoes or some random historical event. Talking about this helps me find informational texts that they might enjoy. It lets me know what they find fascinating that I might be missing at home. Plus, it sets the tone for the fact that learning is still a blast.

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