Teachers speak out about family involvement in education in Gates Foundation report
What the research says
Family involvement research reviews
Research-Based reports and articles

Teachers speak out about family involvement in education in Gates Foundation report

The Gates Foundation released a report of a nation-wide survey they conducted with more than 40,000 elementary and secondary public school teachers this year. The survey respondents expressed their views on the state of American Education and indicated that they are keenly aware of the home-school connection to raise student achievement. Regarding family involvement, 82% of total number of teachers surveyed said that they know they set the stage for student achievement but they also know they can’t do it alone. Three in 4 teachers said that family involvement and family support is absolutely essential in impacting student academic achievement.

Read Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s Schools

What the research says

Researchers, practitioners and common wisdom have long acknowledged a strong link between parent/family involvement and children’s success in school. National studies conducted over the past 30 years have identified a clear relationship between the participation of parents and family members in the education of their children and increased student achievement. Examples of what researchers are saying:

The evidence is positive, consistent and convincing: There is a contributing relationship between the involvement of families in education and benefits for students including improved academic achievement and behavior. This relationship holds across families of all economic, racial/ethnic and educational backgrounds.

Ann Henderson and Karen Mapp (2002), A new wave of evidence: The Impact of School Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

Research has found that regardless of the family’s ethnicity or socio-economic status, the best indicator of student success is the level of parent involvement.

Joyce Epstein and M. Sanders (2000) Connecting Home, School and Community: New Directions for Social Research, Handbook of the Sociology of Education.

Ninety-two percent of educators nationwide surveyed by the U.S. Department of Education identified strengthening family members’ roles in student learning as an issue that should receive the highest priority for public education policy.

U.S. Department of Education - 2001

National research consistently shows that family involvement in education is a key element in student achievement. Among the many types of family involvement, supporting education at home is the best predictor of student academic success and high school completion. This holds true across families of all ethnicities, socio-economic levels, and education backgrounds. “Schools must become proficient at establishing solid partnerships with all families, and providing them with opportunities to understand academic goals, and learn how to support and extend student learning at home.”

Mapp, K.L., & Henderson, A.T., (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

A study conducted in several East Coast urban schools found that many low-income, diverse families make a deliberate and intentional choice not to participate in school activities and/or become involved in the education of their children because of:

  • Self-perception – Families are not clear about their role and responsibilities in the education of their children.
  • Sense of efficacy – Families lack confidence in their own level of education and their ability to contribute to the education of their children.
  • Past experience – Family members had negative past experiences with the education system.
  • School climate – School climate can sometimes be unwelcoming and uninviting. Families may not feel respected and valued by school staff.

Hoover-Dempsey, K., & Sandler, H. (1997). Review of Educational Research, 67, 3-42.

The Campbell Collaboration, an international network of researchers and policymakers based in Philadelphia, assessed the effects of parent involvement interventions on elementary school student achievement in its 2003 report. Using a meta-analysis of a subset of four national parent involvement studies, researchers were able to conclude, with 95 percent confidence, that children in parent involvement groups scored 2/3 of a standard deviation above the average academic achievement score for children in control groups.

That effect is statistically significant for educators and policymakers to elevate the status of family involvement as a contributor to achievement.

Research has demonstrated that a student’s home environment has more impact on test scores than any other factor, including school curriculum or student body characteristics.

Coleman. J.S. (1996) Equality of Educational Opportunity. Washington D.C.

Parents can be an important resource to schools, if used wisely. Parents who play advocacy and decision-making roles in schools contribute significantly to their children’s success and enhanced self-esteem.

Weisz, E. (1990) Developing Positive Staff-Parent Partnerships in High Schools. American Secondary Education.

According to national research, when families are involved in their children’s education, children achieve higher grades, have better attendance, complete more homework, demonstrate better behavior and demonstrate more positive attitude toward higher education.

Strong families, strong schools, 1994 U.S. Department of Education, Washington D.C.

Research results suggest that the benefits of parent involvement are not confined to early childhood or elementary grades, but last through high school.

W. Rioux and N. Berla, Education Week, Jan. 19, 1994.

In a 2003 study of 100 schools nation-wide conducted at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Steve Sheldon found that:

“Activities that schools organize to involve families are best conceptualized as two separate, but related constructs: systemic organization and outreach methods. The implementation of high-quality, culturally relevant outreach methods by a school is highly associated with the percentage of their students scoring as ‘proficient’ on state standardized tests.”

This study also found that the success of outreach methods used by schools was predicted by the extent to which the school district provided assistance and believed in partnerships with parents.

National Network of Partnership Schools, Baltimore, MD.

Studies conducted in Maryland showed that there are significant benefits for middle school and high school students attitudes and grades as a result of continued school implementation of several types of family involvement practices.

Seyong, L. (1994), Family-School Connections and Students’ Education, Doctoral Dissertation, Johns Hopkins University.

Extensive, substantial and convincing evidence suggests that parents play a crucial role in both the home and school environments with respect to facilitating the development of intelligence, achievement and competence in their children.

Beecher, L. (1984).

There is mounting evidence that parent involvement facilitates children’s academic achievement. There are also indications that they do so in relatively complex ways that interact with family background and social context variables such as ethnicity, family structure, employment status, socioeconomic status and gender.

Schiamberg and Chin, (1986); Milne, (1989); Tocci and Englehard, (1991); Zimilies and Lee, (1991); Lee and Croniger, (1999).

The level of parent involvement is the No. 1 factor people cited as the reason that some schools are better than others.

1997 Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes toward Public Schools.

Family Involvement Research Reviews

  • Mapp, K.L., & Henderson, A.T., (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
  • Boethel, M., Adelman, H., Epstein, J. L., et al (2003) Diversity: School, Family, and Community Connections. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
  • "Portraits of Four Schools: Meeting the Needs of Immigrant Students and their Families." The Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Yale University.

Research-Based Reports and Articles

Family Involvement in Education

  • American Association of School Administrators. (1998). Promoting Parent Involvement. Leader’s Edge, 2(2).
  • Dodd, A.W. & Konzal, J.L. (1999). Making our high schools better: how parents and teachers can work together. Gordonsville, VA: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Epstein, J.L. (1995). School, family, community partnerships: caring for the children we share. Phi Delta Kappan, 76, 701-712.
  • Epstein, J.L., Coates, L., Salinas, K.C., Sanders, M.G. & Simon, B.S. (1997). School, Family and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action. Corwin Press, Inc: Thousand Oaks, CA.
  • Giles, H. (1998). Parent engagement as a school reform strategy. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education. Number 135.
  • Henderson, A. & Berla, N. (1994). A new generation of evidence: the family is critical to student achievement. National Committee for Citizens in Education.
  • The National Network of Partnership Schools. (2000). A model for family-school-community partnerships. Harvard Family Research Project.
  • Inger, Morton. (1992). Increasing the school involvement of Hispanic parents. ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education. Number 80.
  • Jordan, C., Orozco, E., Averett, J. & Buttram, J. (2001). Emerging issues in school, family and community connections. Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
  • Smalley, S.Y. & Reyes-Blanes, M.E. (2001). Reaching out to African American parents in an urban community: a community-university partnership. Urban Education, 36, 518-533.
  • Toomey, D. (1996). Home-School Relations and Inequality in Education. Address to Conference on Education and the Family, Brigham Young University.
  • U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. Parent Involvement in Children’s Education: Efforts by Public Elementary Schools, NCES 98-032, by Nancy Carey, Laurie Lewis and Elizabeth Farris. Project Officer, Shelley Burns. Washington, DC: 1998.
  • U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. Efforts by Public K-8 Schools to Involve Parents in Children’s Education: Do School and Parent Reports Agree? NCES 2001-076, by Xianglei Chen. Project Officer, Kathryn Chandler. Washington, D.C.: 2001.
  • Wherry, J.H. Selected parent involvement research. The Parent Institute.
  • White-Clark, R. & Decker, L. E. (1996). The “hard-to-reach” parent: Old challenges, new insights. Boca Raton, FL: National Community Education.
  • Williams, D.L. & Chavkin, N.F. (1990). Essential elements of strong parent involvement programs. Education Leadership, 47, 18-20.