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…

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.”

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.”

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….

New Issue Of Harvard’s Parent Involvement Newsletter

I’ve shared previous issues of Harvard’s parent involvement newsletter, called FINE (Family Involvement Network of Educators).

They’ve just published another issue. Here’s how they describe it:

We dedicate this issue of the FINE Newsletter to the transition to school. We do this because a smooth transition to school makes a difference for student outcomes, and also because it is a matter of equity. Research shows that children from homes with increased social and economic risk benefit the most from transition activities; yet these are the children least likely to receive them. We seek to not only explore the evidence-base supporting the importance of the transition to school, but also, to profile programs in high-risk districts that are working to address inequalities.

In this issue we:

Highlight four important things research tells us about the transition to school;
Explore strategies the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Center for Early Learning has used in its bold initiative to develop ready children, ready families, ready schools, and ready communities, in one county in California;
Discover how Iridescent, a national nonprofit, stimulates children’s early interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through workshops and mentoring for the entire family; and
Talk with the program Comienza en Casa | It Starts at Home to learn how the program uses technology to prepare migrant children and families in rural Maine for the transition to school.

“Parents’ belief that a child will attend college plays big role in early academic success”

Parents’ belief that a child will attend college plays big role in early academic success is the title of a Science Daily article about a new study. It’s not going to be surprising to anyone, but is interesting nonetheless.

Here’s how it begins:

Numerous studies have shown that socioeconomic factors play a major role in students’ success in kindergarten. Children whose parents are more educated and have better jobs and higher incomes tend to have stronger math and reading skills than their peers.

Now, a study by researchers from UCLA and the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that the factors influencing children’s readiness for kindergarten include not only whether they attend preschool, but also their families’ behaviors, attitudes and values — and that parents’ expectations go a long way toward predicting children’s success throughout their schooling.

Useful New Study On Parent Engagement

The Maine Education Policy Research Institute has just published what appears to me to be a very useful study on parent engagement.

A summary of it can be found here, and the entire report can be viewed here.

I’ve only had a chance to scan it, but it looks helpful. One section that stood out to me was on student homework projects requiring family involvement. I don’t recall seeing previous research on that topic.

I’m adding this info to:

“The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”

The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons!

“Parent program helps kids’ reading, study says”

Parent program helps kids’ reading, study says is the headline of an article at Ed Source that’s worth a look.

Here’s an excerpt:

The nonprofit research organization Child Trends looked at nearly two dozen evaluations of Raising A Reader, a California-based program that teaches parents how to be reading mentors to their kids. The Child Trends report found that parents who received training in the most effective ways to encourage kids’ reading were more likely to report positive changes in their children, such as improvement in spoken language skills, ability to ask questions and turning pages in a book.

With help from workshops that Raising a Reader offers, parents can learn how to deeply engage with their kids around books, by asking questions and helping kids make connections between the stories they read and their own lives.

“Testing May Discourage Parent Involvement, Study Finds”

Testing May Discourage Parent Involvement, Study Finds is the headline of an article in Heartland.

Here’s an excerpt:

Saying there was little research about how extensive testing in education impacted parental attitudes toward education, Jesse Rhodes studied the issue in early 2012.

Rhodes, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, found parents in states with more extensive assessment systems had more negative attitudes about education and were less likely to become engaged in their children’s learning.

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

New Report: “Organizing Parents for Education Reform”

Turning Lightning Into Electricity: Organizing Parents For Education Reform is the name of a new fifty-page report from The American Enterprise Institute.

Even though I couldn’t bring myself to read the whole thing, it does appear to be what you might expect from The Institute — focused on the typical school reformers and how they’re trying to get parents to support their agenda. I gave up on reading the report when they said Stand For Children and Parent Revolution were examples of “Alinsky-style” community organizing. As someone who spent nineteen years working as a community organizer for the group Alinsky founded, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that they are definitely not practicing “Alinskys-style” methods. In fact, I’ve written a couple of Washington Post columns explaining my position (see What’s really wrong with ‘parent trigger’ laws and “The ‘Parent Trigger’ doesn’t help schools or parents.”).

If you want to see what true community organizing with parents looks like, check out The Best Examples Of Parent Engagement Through Community Organizing.

“Parents play vital role in molding future scientists, research shows”

Parents play vital role in molding future scientists, research shows is the headline of a report about a somewhat interesting, though not surprising study.

Here’s an excerpt:

Parents and family make all the difference in creating the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians, according to new research by George Mason University.

“We were surprised to learn that the family is more important than we ever thought in terms of igniting the passion of future scientists,” says Lance Liotta, a study author and co-director of George Mason’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine…..

The researchers recommend science gifts for the holiday season to help fuel the imagination of future scientists. Family activities are another way to inspire future scientists, the researchers say.

“Parents who see the spark of science talent in their kids should reinforce that talent through family projects and nature walks,” says College of Science Dean Peggy Agouris.

Surprise — Not! Study Finds That Parent Involvement Matters In High School, Too

Parental involvement still essential in secondary school is the headline of a report on a new study examining parent involvement in the education of older children.

To no secondary teacher’s surprise, researchers found it was important…

Even though it doesn’t demonstrate anything earthshaking, I’m still adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement” because I don’t think there are many parent involvement studies focused on that age group.

Massive Lists Of Parent Involvement Research

The Harvard Family Research Project has created what they call Family Involvement Bibliographies.

Here’s how they describe it:

Family engagement strategies are changing to respond to innovations in education and technology, concerns about equity and opportunity, and expectations about school readiness. Research continues to provide us with new insights and a solid base for innovation as well as continuity.

We are pleased to share the latest research that can inform policy, professional development, and practice. These new additions to our Family Involvement Bibliographies series include a wide range of research studies published in 2012 and 2013 on such topics as:

Children’s media use in America
Parent and teacher support among Latino immigrant youth
Transition to school
Family-school connectedness and children’s early social development
Preservice teachers’ multicultural teaching concerns and knowledge of parent involvement.

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

“To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents With Tips”

To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents With Tips is the headline of a New York Times article about a new study. It found that sending text messages to parents of very young children (like “Let your child hold the book. Ask what it is about. Follow the words with your finger as you read”) were more advanced academically than those whose parents did not receive them.

I thought that was interesting, particularly since another study that I’ve posted about in my other blog where adolescent students received encouraging texts was deemed a failure (I don’t have time right now to find that link but will add it later). Perhaps parents of very young children are in a more motivated frame of mind? I wonder how this experiment would work with parents of older children?

I’m adding this info to two “Best” lists:

“The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”

The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap”

Interesting New Study On How Teacher/Parent Communication Impacts Students

A new study has been released on the impact teacher/parent communication can impact students.

You can read a good summary of the study, titled ““The Underutilized Potential of Teacher-to-Parent Communication: Evidence from a Field Experiment” — here.

There were several interesting findings, including that fact the messages from the teacher to the parent that included specific suggestions of what their child could do to improve in school were effective in generating student improvement (as opposed to receiving just positive messages). Of course, that’s not a big surprise, but I thought it was particularly interesting that it didn’t result in more conversations between the parent and their child, but the same number with a different content. Those messages also resulted in a less positive teacher/student relationship.

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

Study Offers Parents Advice On Teen Internet Use

A major British study has just announced advice to parents about monitoring teen Internet use:

Their report came to three main conclusions:

Children who have positive offline relationships with their parents are more likely to navigate the web in a sensible way

Supportive and enabling parenting has a more positive impact than restricting or monitoring internet use

Teenagers left to self-regulate their internet and social media use are more likely to teach themselves new skills online and maintain
positive online relationships

Study: “School Access and Participation: Family Engagement Practices in the New Latino Diaspora”

‘School Access and Participation: Family Engagement Practices in the New Latino Diaspora’ is the title of a new research study by Rebecca Lowenhaupt.

It seems to be behind a paywall, but you can read a quite extensive summary here.

Here’s an excerpt:

In recent years the ‘Latino Diaspora’ has spread to states in the Midwest and Northeast, which have relatively little tradition of serving the needs of immigrants. Using Wisconsin as a case study, Rebecca Lowenhaupt examines how schools are supporting Latino students and their families. She finds that while schools largely ensure Spanish translation and interpretation of various school processes such as parent-teacher conferences, Spanish-speaking families tend not to join in key school activities such as meetings and events. She argues that schools with changing demographics have much to gain from seeking ways to foster active participation and agency among immigrant families by going beyond traditional methods of engagement.

Based on the summary, it doesn’t appear to share anything that most of us educators don’t already know, but it never hurts to have research backing effective strategies.

“Analysis Offers Insights Into Tapping Parent Power to Increase Achievement”

Analysis Offers Insights Into Tapping Parent Power to Increase Achievement is the headline of an Ed Week article that appears to do a very good job of dissecting a major new research study on parent involvement whose results seem to be all over the place.

I’m not going to even try to summarize it, but I did notice that one action researchers highlighted was the positive effect of providing interpreters and translated materials in urban schools.

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