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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Family and ​Community Engagement​Family & ​Community Engagement​ Bibli​ograph​y​Download Family and ​Community Engagement​ Bibliography

​The integration of community and family engagement into school improvement and planning efforts is an area that warrants increased attention. This initial collection of research studies attempts to show connections between community and family engagement and student success across a multitude of topics. These resources are by no means the final list for this topic; this document will be revised and updated frequently to include additional research studies and practitioner resources. Resources are currently organized into the areas of:

  • Community and school partnerships
  • Cultural competency
  • Parent invovlement with school
  • Professional development
  • District and administrator support
  • Specific content areas

Community and School Partnerships

Battistich, V., & Hom, A. (1997). The relationship between students' sense of their school as a community and their involvement in problem behaviors. American Journal of Public Health, 87(12), 1997–2001.

Although there is a multitude of research on parental and community involvement in schools and its influence on student achievement, there has been considerably less research on the impact of parental and community involvement on student behavior. Battistich and Hom examined the cross-sectional relationship between students' sense of their schools as a community and the prevalence of problem behavior. The study included a sample of 1,434 fifth- and sixth-grade students in six school districts across the United States. Longitudinal data were collected for 12 schools that adopted an intervention program aimed at augmenting community involvement. Twelve other schools served as a comparison group. The researchers developed a 38-item scale to assess students' perceptions about their school as a community. The survey featured two subscales measuring caring and supportive interpersonal relationships and student autonomy and influence. A scale was also developed to determine the frequency of student involvement in delinquent behaviors such as drug and tobacco use, skipping school, and damaging property. The authors conducted hierarchal regression analysis and determined that higher levels of a sense of school as community were associated with significantly less student drug use and delinquent behavior. The authors did not find a significant relationship between income level and drug use or delinquent behavior. The authors suggest that developing a stronger sense of community between students is a strategy that can be used to prevent delinquent behavior in schools.​​​

Bryan, J. (2005). Fostering educational resilience and achievement in urban schools through school-family-community partnerships. Professional School Counseling, 8(3), 219–227.

In many school districts, administrators are stretching resources to provide the maximum amount of services to students. The role of the school counselor has been expanded from a professional who provides assistance in scheduling classes to a team facilitator, collaborator, and personal advocate for students. Counselors are often engaged in developing and sustaining family partnerships that can have significant influence for students.

Through this study, Bryan found that school counselors can help to remove the stressors and barriers to academic and personal success, especially for low-income and minority students. Bryan also suggested that school counselors would benefit from professional development that addressed collaboration, advocacy, and leadership skills to help them meet the needs of families and communities. Findings suggest increased opportunities for younger counselors to job shadow veteran counselors and reforms to the curricula of college counselor programs. The author concluded that increasing the amount of counseling services available for students is a useful strategy toward creating and sustaining family and community engagement.

Bryk, A. S., Sebring, P. B., Allensworth, E., Easton, J. Q., & Luppescu, S. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement: Lessons from Chicago. University of Chicago Press.

This longitudinal study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago investigated how school organization in Chicago's public schools and interaction with the local community significantly affected the likelihood of improvement in student achievement. Researchers arrived at five essential supports for school improvement: challenging instruction; quality teachers committed to the school, each other, and continuous improvement; strong interconnection among families, community, and school; a supportive, student-centered learning environment; and inclusive leadership involving principals collaborating with faculty, parents, and the community. Data collection and analysis from more than 400 schools found that schools that were strong in these five areas were significantly more likely to improve than were schools that were weak in these areas.

Caspe, M., Lopez, M. E., Chu, A., & Weiss, H. B. (2011). Teaching the teachers: Preparing educators to engage families for student achievement (Issue Brief). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project; and Alexandria, VA: National PTA.

Parent-teacher relationships relate to outcomes for students, including healthy social development and high student achievement. This article, prepared by the Harvard Family Research Project and the National PTA, examines how teacher education programs can create a foundation for family engagement.  

Through the example of five case studies of existing teacher preparation programs, five core elements for teacher training are identified: (1) standardized knowledge and competencies for family engagement, (2) curriculum that addresses those standards, (3) collaboration and partnership among different groups that support teachers and students, (4) continuing professional development, and (5) evaluation to inform instruction and continuous improvement. Policies to support engagement-focused teacher education program are also addressed.

Dyson, A., & Raffo, C. (2007). Education and disadvantage: The role of community-oriented schools. Oxford Review of Education, 33(3), 197–214.

Educational reform efforts have taken innovative approaches to reduce inequalities for disadvantaged students. There is a movement toward the development of community schools that offer a full range of services to children, families, and communities that extend beyond the schools' core curriculum. These schools have been incorporated as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen relationships between schools and underresourced communities. Dyson and Raffo focused their research on the effectiveness of this school model and the rationales that exist for their development.

Community schools in England primarily serve disadvantaged student populations and are located in disadvantaged localities. Educational reformers in England who developed policy claimed that these schools would support improvement in standards, enable children to have fun and develop wider interests/new skills, enhance support for vulnerable children and those most at risk, and encourage more parental involvement in children's learning. Dyson and Raffo cite evaluations of community school initiatives in other countries to provide empirical evidence showing that although effective in engaging communities and families, these initiatives have not demonstrated success in bringing about educational reform.

In this editorial, authors expressed concern about proximal factors, including the deficit view of disadvantaged families and communities which it embodies and the lack of any deep analysis of the ways in which disadvantage arises or how it might be combated by community-oriented schooling. Dyson and Raffo suggest that further development of these schools needs to occur to ensure they reach their full potential as catalysts for educational reform.

Epstein, J. L., & Sheldon, S. B. (2002). Present and accounted for: Improving student attendance through family and community involvement. The Journal of Educational Research, 95(5), 308–318.

Student absenteeism and truancy are significant issues many school districts across the country must address. Epstein and Sheldon conducted a longitudinal study of 18 schools (12 elementary and 6 secondary schools) from a mix of urban and rural areas to examine the connections between school programs of parent involvement, teachers' attitudes, and the practices that teachers use to solicit parent involvement and its influence on student attendance. Longitudinal data were collected from 171 teachers in five elementary and three middle schools in Baltimore on the teachers' attitudes and practices of parent involvement. The eight schools were selected at random from a set of comparable Title I schools in economically and educationally disadvantaged neighborhoods as part of a 3-year initiative to improve parent involvement programs and practices. As part of the study, the teachers were assured 3 years of support in a series of small grants to design, conduct, evaluate, and expand practices of parent involvement in their schools to increase students' achievement and success. The survey developed was organized into 10 questions, each with different subquestions that solicited 100 pieces of information on teachers' general attitudes toward parent involvement, teacher practices of communicating with students' families, and use of school and classroom volunteers.

Five types of parental involvement were identified as the basis for participation, including basic obligations of families, basic obligations of schools, involvement at schools, involvement in learning at home, and involvement in school decision making and governance. After data were collected, two stages of analysis occurred. The first stage involved giving descriptive statistics to the teachers, principals, and parents in each school; these sets included a clinical summary based on the data collected from teachers and parents. The second stage involved combing data to determine commonalities across levels of schooling (elementary/middle), between different academic subjects, and under various types of classroom organizations.

Responses indicated that a variety of factors contributed to students' absenteeism, including homelessness and parents pulling students out of school frequently. The authors found that elementary school programs of parent involvement were stronger, more positive, and more comprehensive than those in the middle schools. Results also revealed that programs of parent involvement are stronger in self-contained classrooms, and that teachers of language arts and reading use more practices than teachers of other subjects to involve parents in their children's education. Data indicated a positive correlation between schools that engaged in a wide variety of family engagement strategies and schools with high attendance rates.

Hong, W. M., Rubin, S., & Uy, P. (2009). Beyond the bake sale: A community-based relational approach to parent engagement in schools. The Teachers College Record, 111(09), 2209–2254.

The researchers in this study investigated the efforts of community-based organizations to engage parents in schools in low-income communities. Although educators widely recognize the importance of parental involvement in academic settings, many schools are not successful in engaging families. Hong et. al. also claimed that a lack of engagement with the community at large leads to a lack of engagement with parents. The research team used a case study model to examine community school collaborations in Chicago; Los Angeles; and Newark, New Jersey. Hong and associates believed that community-based organizations could foster and develop innovative and effective models for collaboration and that schools could not. Each community-based organization represented a different type of collaborative approach: community service, community development, or community organizing. The research team found that cultivating relationships was critical in sustaining participation, and investment in parent engagement should focus on creating relationships that provide a foundation for long-term and sustainable change in schools.

Jiminez, E., & Sawada, Y. (1999). Do community-managed schools work? An evaluation of El Salvador's EDUCO program. The World Bank Economic Review, 13(3), 415–441.

City and state governments typically are responsible for the allocation of resources to schools and, in some cases, play a significant role in their administration. Jimenez and Sawada's research focuses on El Salvador's Educación con Participación de la Comunidad (EDUCO) program, which is designed to decentralize education by strengthening the direct involvement and participation of parents and community groups. During the El Salvador civil war in the 1980s, public school education was prohibited in rural areas. Communities took the initiative to develop their own schools, which they organized and supported financially. In 1991, El Salvador's ministry of education developed the more formal EDUCO program, which was managed autonomously by community education associations. The authors compared educational attainment for EDUCO schools with schools that used a traditional model of governance. The study surveyed 605 students from 30 EDUCO schools and 101 traditional schools. Separate surveys were developed for students, parents, school directors, teachers, and parent associations. Academic scores in mathematics and language and school attendance were used as the variables to measure positive impact. Quantitative analysis revealed that achievement test scores were lower on average for EDUCO students, but, after controlling for background, EDUCO students were shown to perform at a slightly higher level in both academic areas. Student attendance was higher in EDUCO schools, as was teacher attendance.

Sanders, M. G. (2001). The role of "community" in comprehensive school, family and community partnership programs. The Elementary School Journal, 102(1), 19–34.

Community involvement in schools can be defined in several ways, including parent involvement, community education, or community collaboration. Using Epstein's (1995) framework of six dimensions of parent involvement (parenting, communicating,  volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community), this study creates a working definition of school-community partnerships and discusses the benefits of school-community collaboration. Sanders analyzed data from 443 schools that were part of the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS). Each school that joins the NNPS agrees to create an action team composed of the principal, teachers, and family and community representatives. The schools agree to use Epstein's framework to create services and programs for school, family, and community partnerships. Among NNPS members, 70 percent are elementary schools and 61 percent use Title I funds.

Each member school was asked to complete a survey that was designed to assess progress in creating and sustaining partnerships and ways in which the NNPS committee could better render services. Variables assessed included district leaders' support of the schools' program of partnerships; obstacles to developing school, family, and community partnerships; and the number of active community partners. Of the 443 schools that returned the survey, 312 (70 percent) reported having at least one school-community partnership relationship, and the highest proportion (366, or 45 percent) involved one or more local business partners. Gaining compliance from community partners to participate and a lack of time were cited as the two main hindrances to cultivating relationships. Sanders suggested that the development of formalized networks such as the NNPS was an effective approach to developing family and community partnerships.

Sanders, M. G., & Lewis, K. C. (2005). Building bridges towards excellence: Community involvement in high schools. The High School Journal, 88(3), 1–9.

Sanders and Lewis conducted a series of case studies centered on community involvement in high schools and school personnel rationales for developing collaborative relationships. Three schools were selected to participate in the case study. Schools selected were members of the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) and had conducted self-evaluations of partnership program quality on NNPS annual surveys that assessed good to excellent attributes on a 5-point scale for at least 2 consecutive years prior to the start of the study. Schools also had to rate between good and excellent in quality of community involvement of their developed programs. Five of the 75 schools that were members of NNPS at the time of the study met the criteria, and, based on a scoring rubric, three were selected. The schools were located in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

The urban school in the sample featured a majority of African-American students who received free or reduced-price lunch. The suburban and rural schools in the sample each contained a majority of white students and had low student/teacher ratios. Qualitative data were gathered from interviews with school administrators, partnership program chairs, and partnership team members. The data analysis showed that each school prioritized process, permitted time, and promoted community ownership. Each school administrator's motivation for community partnership development fell into three related categories: improving student academic and personal success, enhancing school quality, and supporting community development. Sanders and Lewis cited promotion of ownership among the community partners as the most critical factor in determining success.

Cultural Competency

Jackson, K., & Remillard, J. (2005). Rethinking parent involvement: African-American mothers construct their roles in the mathematics education of their children. School Community Journal, 15(1), 51–73.

Jackson and Remillard researched African-American mothers' roles in their children's mathematics learning. The authors chose to focus their research on mothers because many students in the district lived in single-parent homes headed by women. Grandmothers who served as primary caretakers for youth were also included in the sample. Ten women were selected for the study from a low-income neighborhood in a large Midwestern city. Through their research, the authors examined how African-American mothers in a low-income neighborhood conceptualized their roles in their children's education and the challenges they faced while enacting these roles.

Participants in the study were primary caretakers of elementary school children in the Educational Scholarship Program (ESP). The ESP provides full college scholarships to minority students from low-income communities who successfully complete high school. Parent data for the study were collected through focus group meetings, family mathematics evenings, home interviews, and a six-week parent mathematics course. All interactions with parents were documented using field notes and, when appropriate, captured via audio or video recording. The majority of interviews took place at home so the researchers could observe parent-reported practices of involvement with their children's mathematics assignments.

An analysis of the qualitative data revealed three effective strategies that mothers used to help their children with mathematics assignments: involvement in children's learning, involvement in children's schooling, and involvement in their children's school. Involvement in children's learning referred to ways that parents work to structure, foster, and support their children's learning in a variety of contexts, not just those that are related to school. Involvement in children's schooling referred to ways that parents took active roles in supporting their children's progress in school. Involvement in children's school referred to ways in which parents had an active presence in the school through volunteering and attending school functions.

The main challenge parents identified was unfamiliarity with the school's mathematics curriculum when compared to the mathematics curricula they had studied while in school. In addition, parents expressed concern because students were not allowed to take home their mathematics textbooks (the school feared the books would not be returned). The school indicated that it could not afford to purchase new textbooks. The authors suggested that providing parents with opportunities to develop knowledge and strategies that were aligned with the same curricular approach used in the school could increase academic outcomes for students in mathematics courses.

Lee, J. S., & Bowen, J. K. (2006). Parent involvement, cultural capital, and the achievement gap among elementary school children. American Educational Research Journal, 43(2), 193–218.

Lee and Bowens' research focused on specific types of parental involvement and the influence of race, poverty, and parental education levels. on the effectiveness of their implementation. Their research also focused on social and cultural capital and how understanding theory concerning these terms can play an important role in helping schools to address the achievement gap. The sample included 415 third- through fifth-grade students from a community in the Southeastern United States. The sampling frame included 770 students from the seven elementary schools in the district. Of the participants, 40 percent received free or reduced-price lunch, 15 percent were Latino, 34 percent were African American, and 51 percent were white. Each student in the sample completed the Elementary School Success Profile, a study funded by The National Institute on Drug Abuse, as a screening tool designed to prevent adolescent academic and behavior problems.

The researchers created an assessment tool to measure five types of parental involvement: parent involvement at school, parent-child educational discussions, homework help, time management, and parent educational expectations. The researchers examined differences in parent involvement and school performance by demographic characteristics. Lee and Bowen concluded that parental involvement of all types was found more frequently among white parents whose children did not receive free or reduced-price lunch. Higher educational expectations for children are associated with higher academic achievement across the demographic groups assessed, but the academic impact was stronger for children who did not participate in the free/reduced lunch program. There are no significant differences in the levels of homework help across demographic groups, but parental homework help is negatively associated with white children's academic achievement and positively associated with African-American and Hispanic children's achievement. The authors theorize that this may be due to the fact that European-American parents primarily help their children with homework when they are not doing well academically. Lee and Bowen assert that parent involvement in school and high educational expectations have the greatest influence on students' academic achievement.

Lopez, G. R., & Scribner, J. D. (2001). Redefining parental involvement: Lessons from high-performing migrant-impacted schools. American Educational Research Journal, 38(2), 253–288.

Lopez and Scribner conducted a study examining ways to increase parental involvement in migrant communities to improve academic achievement and to help parents develop positive attitudes toward schools. The majority of data for the study were gathered using qualitative research. Researchers used data and recommendations from the Migrant Education Office of the Texas Education Agency to select four school districts with recognized parental involvement initiatives. Each district selected had at least an 80 percent migrant graduation rate, an 80 percent migrant promotion rate, and a 94 percent migrant school attendance rate. Three districts were located in Texas, and a "migrant receiving" school district in Illinois was also selected. Seventeen interviews and multiple classroom observations were conducted over a 5-month period. The researchers interviewed key personnel at both the district and building levels, including building- and district-level administrators, migrant program personnel, schoolteachers, community liaisons, and parents.

A semistructured approach was used to conduct the interviews, which ranged between 60 and 90 minutes in length. Qualitative analysis was used to determine significant themes in the data. Results indicated that the commonality between these programs was that they addressed the basic needs of the families before engagement in school participation was solicited. The social, economic, and physical needs of migrant families were addressed before involvement in school programs occurred. Understanding the socio-cultural context of migrancy and being aware of family needs was repeatedly mentioned as one of the most critical strategies to gain parental support from this population. Lopez and Scribner suggest that providing holistic services for parents ultimately resulted in their increased desire to become involved with schools.

Lopez, G. R., Scribner, J. D., & Mahitivanichcha, K. (2001). Redefining parental involvement: Lessons from high-performing migrant-impacted schools. American Educational Research Journal, 38(2), 253–288.

Parental involvement is often measured by parental participation in organized meetings or work on academics with children at home. Among migrant families, these forms of parental participation can be challenging for a variety of reasons, including time, language, and cultural understanding. For schools with large migrant communities, parental involvement programs need to be adjusted to take into consideration the issues surrounding migrant families in order to be effective. This study examined several school districts with large migrant populations and successful parental involvement programs. The researchers identified strategies and practices that contributed to success. Key finding from the study showed that successful programs take a holistic approach and seek to address the social, economic, and physical needs of migrant families. This approach is completed before considering any kind of involvement from parents. The view of school staff is that migrant students' educational success is directly linked to the well-being of their families.

Marschall, M. (2006). Parent involvement and educational outcomes for Latino students. Review of Policy Research, 23(5), 1053–1076.

The number of Latino students in schools is growing at a rate faster than any other student group in the United States. Marschall's research focused on the determinants and effects of parent involvement in schools, particularly with regard to schools that serve Latino students in Chicago. Data on Latino membership in Chicago's Local School Councils were collected from the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. Data concerning demographics, school characteristics, and academic performance of students in Chicago Public Schools were collected from the Illinois State Board of Education. Data on school organization, parent involvement, and school practices regarding outreach and engagement with parents and communities were gathered from teacher surveys. Two dependent variables were developed on school efforts to reach out and engage parents: teacher cultural/community awareness, including teachers' efforts to understand their students and parents better, and school-initiated efforts to involve parents. Data were acquired from 160 Chicago Public Schools that served a predominantly Latino student population over a 1-year period.

Quantitative empirical analysis of the data collected revealed that Latino presence in local school councils played a critical role in building stronger, more supportive school-parent relations and encouraging higher levels of parent involvement in formal school activities. Marschall also found that increasing teacher awareness to the unique cultural needs of Latino students accounted for higher scores in mathematics and reading tests. The study also determined that the full effect of school efforts to foster parent-school relations and the full effect of increased teacher awareness of the needs of students/families resulted in positive academic gains for students.

Trotman, M. F. (2001). Involving the African-American parent: Recommendations to increase the level of parent involvement within African-American families. Journal of Negro Education, 70(4), 275–285.

Trotman's study focused on strategies to engage African-American parents in schools and possible hindrances to their participation. Trotman cited family structure/socioeconomic status, parents' schedules, educational level, and the expectations of administrators and teachers as reasons for low parental participation in schools. Trotman suggested that teachers and administrators have lower expectations for African-American parents than for parents from other ethnic groups. Despite low participation rates, African-Americans parents often have high expectations for their children, and Trotman suggested that schools should strive for a more in-depth understanding of the factors that prevent African-American parents from participating in their children's education.

Parental Involvement With Schools

Anguiano, R. P. V. (2004). Families and schools: The effect of parental involvement on high school completion. Journal of Family Issues, 25(1), 61–85.

Previous research has indicated the positive effects that family involvement can have on academic outcomes for students. Anguiano conducted research on the potential influence of parental involvement on high school completion rates for students. Data for the study, which were gathered through the National Education Longitudinal Study, captured information from a sample of 25,000 eighth-grade students and parents. Students in the study were followed throughout high school and given follow-up interviews 2 years after the scheduled date of their graduation. Anguiano captured data from students who identified as Native American, Latino, European American, and Asian American. The sample set included both single- and dual-parent families, but only mothers participated in interviews.

Parental involvement was measured through a questionnaire developed for use during interviews. Participants were asked about the frequency of parental contact with school personnel and the school, as well as parents' attendance at parent-teacher meetings and activities at which their children were participating. The author gained information concerning parental advocacy at school by determining parents' knowledge about school policy and their attendance at parent-teacher organization meetings. Anguiano found that parental participation was a significant factor in completion rates for all students, but that results varied by group. Traditional parental involvement was a better predictor of high school completion for Asian Americans than for European Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos. Family involvement did not serve as a significant predictor for high school completion rates for Native American students. The more education completed by parents, the more likely their children were to complete high school. Children from households with higher incomes were also more likely to complete high school than children from households with lower incomes. The author concluded that schools would benefit from increasing parent knowledge and involvement regarding policy issues both at school and in the school district

Buckley, J., & Schneinder, M. (2002). What do parents want from schools? Evidence from the internet. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(2), 133–144.

Buckley and Schneinder conducted research to determine specific characteristics of the type of schools parents prefer and how these preferences are affected by the school's socioeconomic and racial compositions. The study team looked at data through an Internet site called DC School Search. The site provides information about local schools to parents in Washington, DC, including location, test scores, student demographics, mission statement, and academic programs. Buckley and Schneider analyzed information from the website to determine which content areas parents were visiting most. This information was gathered and then compared against data acquired from telephone interviews concerning parents' preferences regarding school choice. Data from 2,300 visitors to the website were gathered, as well as telephone interviews with more than 200 parents.  Results analyzed from the quantitative and qualitative data collected showed variance in the responses given by parents during interviews regarding school choice and parents' visitation patterns on the Internet site.

During interviews, only 5 percent of parents indicated that the race and economic background of students was of primary importance when selecting a school, but more than 30 percent of parents made a visit to the demographic section of the website very early in their visit. A majority of parents indicated that high-quality teaching was of primary importance, but very few parents visited the section of the website that contained information on teacher quality. The authors suggested that because race and socioeconomic status of students was of primary importance while choosing schools, displaying demographic information electronically may contribute to increased school segregation. The authors also suggested improving efforts to decrease the unequal distribution of information about school choice to families of lower socioeconomic status.

Comer, J. P., & Haynes, N. M. (1991). Parent involvement in schools: An ecological approach. The Elementary School Journal, 91(3), 271–277.

Comer and Haynes argued that many approaches were not grounded in child development, relationship development, and systems theory, and, as a result, the issues that interfere with successful parental involvement and staff interaction were not addressed. The authors explored parent involvement in two low-income, predominantly African-American elementary schools in New Haven, Connecticut. The researchers examined current practices for parental involvement at each school and developed strategies for reform. A parent program was developed that focused on three levels of participation: general participation, helping in classrooms or sponsoring and supporting school programs, and participation on the school planning and management team among parents elected by the parent group. The study found that the parent program led to increased rates of parental participation in both schools. The authors suggested that developing formalized parental involvement programs would serve as a useful strategy to increase community involvement.

Epstein, J. L., & Dauber, S. L. (1991). School programs and teacher practices of parent involvement in inner-city elementary and middle schools. The Elementary School Journal, 91(3), 289–305.

Epstein and Dauber conducted research on the correlation between parent involvement programs at schools and the practices that teachers use to engage parents. To gain insight about connections between school programs of parent involvement and the practices that teachers use to involve parents, data were collected from 171 teachers in five elementary and three middle schools in Baltimore. Participating schools all received Title I funds and were selected as part of a larger initiative from the Baltimore Public School District to enhance parent involvement programs in schools. Teacher representatives from each of the eight schools attended a summer workshop at which they were trained on evaluating and expanding practices of parent involvement in their schools to increase student achievement. During the workshop, teachers assisted in the design of a questionnaire that was used as the survey instrument to collect data during the course of the study. The survey captured information concerning teachers' general attitudes toward parent involvement, teachers' practices of communicating with students' families, and the use of school and classroom volunteers.

Data from the surveys and interviews and focus groups with parents and teachers were used in the study. A research team from Johns Hopkins University commissioned the study and agreed to provide continuous support to teachers and school administrators during the 3-year process to enhance parent involvement programs. Data were analyzed in two stages. The first stage involved creating summary profile reports for all data collected. The profiles summarized the strengths and weaknesses of the school regarding parent involvement activities as perceived by the two groups of respondents (teachers and parents) and reported summary statistics for all survey questions. The second stage involved combining data from all schools for more formal analysis of patterns and connections of teacher attitudes about parent involvement, school programs, and the actual practices that teachers use.

Results indicated that teachers representing the schools in the study had overall positive feelings about parent involvement. The authors also found that programs that promote children's learning at home are more likely to be seen in elementary schools rather than middle schools, and that elementary school teachers who frequently involve parents in learning activities at home are most likely to request involvement in reading or reading-related activities. Teachers of mathematics, science, or social studies were less likely to use practices to involve children and families in subject-specific activities as part of their regular teaching practice. The authors suggested that schools should develop formal assessments regarding parent involvement programs as a reform strategy.

Falbo, T., Lein, L., & Amador, N. A. (2001). Parental involvement during the transition to high school. Journal of Adolescent Research, 16(5), 511–529.

Falbo and Lein conducted research to determine the types of parental involvement that are most effective as students transition to high school. Participants were drawn from a diverse public middle school in a Midwestern city. The school featured an ethnic/racial mix that was 72 percent non-Hispanic white, 10 percent black, and 18 percent Hispanic. All families with children in the eighth grade at the school were invited to participate. The study randomized selection to ensure racial and economic diversity among the participants. A total of 26 families participated in the study.

The authors conducted interviews to collect qualitative data. The majority of interviews took place in participants' homes, and the majority of parental respondents were single mothers. Six weeks after each participant entered high school, they took part in a follow-up interview. At the end of each participant's ninth-grade school year, the researchers obtained information about the student's school performance from the school district, including the final grades for each class taken, the number of credits earned, and the percentage of absences. The interview instrument captured information concerning parental resources, social network involvement, parental actions, and individual student characteristics. The study team analyzed and coded data to categorize students first in terms of the success of their transition to high school and then to determine the parental actions that differentiated them.

Parents in the study who reported monitoring their teens every day during the transition to high school were more likely to discover difficulties their children were experiencing before these issues became significant problems. The authors also found that parents of successful students prepared their children for success in high school by enrolling them in appropriate middle school coursework and extracurricular activities that led to participation in specific high school organizations such as band, sports teams, or academic clubs. Parents' skill at evaluating information about their teen was reported as critical in making students' transition into high school successful. The authors suggest that future research should be aimed at determining the things that cause some parents to be more skilled at evaluating school-related information and information about their child than others.

Fehrmann, P., Keith, T., & Reimers, T. (1987). Home influences on school learning: Direct and indirect effects of parental involvement on high school grades. The Journal of Educational Research, 80, 330–337.

Fehrmann and colleagues used regression analysis to examine the direct impact that perceived parental involvement had on students' grades. The High School and Beyond data set was used to gather data for the sample and 28,051 high school seniors were identified for the study. Through survey responses, students provided information on several variables of student learning including time spent on homework, grades, and perceived parental involvement. Quantitative data analysis was conducted to ascertain the direct and indirect influences of parental involvement, homework, and TV time on students' grades. Results indicated that parental involvement had a positive influence on student's grades, and regardless of parental involvement, students who spent more time on homework achieved higher grades.

Feuerstein, A. (2000). School characteristics and parent involvement: Influences on participation in children's schools. Journal of Educational Research, 94(1), 29–40.

Feuerstein's research examined the school-level variables that influence parental participation. The author compared parental involvement as an outcome variable related to school-level characteristics. The study also analyzed independent school-related variables such as teacher approach to discipline and morale, academic focus, and the extent to which parents were contacted. Data were collected from the National Education Longitudinal Study. A total of 24,599 students were selected to participate from a random sample. Data were also collected from the students' parents, teachers, and principals. Feuerstein concluded that considering the multitude of educational research concerning the importance of parental participation to academic outcomes, reformers should devote particular attention to the factors that influence families' involvement in education.

Giles, H. C. (1998). Parent engagement as a school reform strategy. ERIC Digest. New York: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED419031)

An increasing number of urban schools are using parent engagement strategies as an attempt to bring about comprehensive school reform. Parents are seen as an integral component of students' lives, and schools alone cannot address the disparities and shortcomings of many urban areas. Community institutions such as churches and youth centers are also being called upon as part of reform efforts. In his article, Giles examined common characteristics of schools that have been successful in developing family and school collaborations. Giles suggested that it is important for schools to devote attention to the social ecology of their surrounding neighborhoods. Schools should also train parents as educators and community advocates and develop monitoring and evaluation systems to measure progress. Giles also suggested that institutions that were successful in developing family and community partnerships cultivated them by determining common issues that families and schools face and working collaboratively with the surrounding community to address them.

Griffith, J. (1996). Relation of parental involvement, empowerment, and school traits to student academic performance. The Journal of Educational Research, 90(1), 33–41.

Griffith conducted research to analyze the relationship between parental involvement and student academic performance. Survey data were collected to gain information on parental perceptions of involvement and school characteristics. Griffith's research analyzed parent perceptions of involvement and empowerment in schools and their potential influence on grades. A total of 41 elementary schools in a large suburban school district were included in the survey. The survey instrument design was based on a variety of previously existing school climate and satisfaction surveys. The surveys assessed the extent of parents' perceived involvement in their child's education and the extent to which they felt empowered to positively influence their children's educational outcomes. Parental involvement consistently and positively correlated with student performance on achievement tests, even when controlling for school-level resources and the ethnic composition of the student body. Parents' feelings of empowerment and overall participation levels were much stronger predictors of achievement than school characteristics.

Grolnick, W. S., Benjet, C., Kurowski, C. O., & Apostoleris, N. H. (1997). Predictors of parent involvement in children's schooling. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 538–548.

A major factor determining a child's success in school is parental involvement. In this study, the authors examined three types of parental involvement: behavioral, cognitive-intellectual, and personal. Behavioral involvement encompassed active involvement in the child's education either in school or at home. Cognitive-intellectual involvement related to behaviors that encouraged a child's intellectual curiosity. Personal involvement referred to how well the parents knew their child and their child's life at school.

Results showed that children rated more difficult by their parent experienced less  personal and cognitive-intellectual maternal involvement. Characteristics such as gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and two-parent families play a role in maternal behavioral involvement. SES, although a predictor of some types of parent involvement, showed no relationship to personal involvement, indicating that all parents could participate at some level.

Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement (Annual Synthesis 2002). National Center for Family and Community Connections With Schools.

This literature review, conducted by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) and its National Center for Family and Community Connections With Schools, examines parent and community involvement and its impact on student achievement, effective strategies to connect families and communities with schools, and efforts by parents and communities to improve schools.

Key findings on each of the three categories of review are presented, and application recommendations are given for educational practice and research. Based on these studies, engaging families and communities is a key component in any strategy to improve student academic performance and to narrow the achievement gap in schools.

Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., Bassler, O. C., & Brissie, J. S. (1987). Parent involvement: Contributions of teacher efficacy, school socioeconomic status, and other school characteristics. American Educational Research Journal, 24(3), 417–435.

Hoover-Dempsey and associates analyzed whether observable dimensions of school quality had an impact in securing parental involvement. Dimensions of quality observed included school socioeconomic status, teacher degree level, grade level, and class size. The study team also looked at nonobservable dimensions of quality such as principal perceptions of teacher efficacy, organizational rigidity, and instructional coordination. A total of 66 elementary schools located in 8 school districts participated in the survey. Two separate surveys were administered to principals and teachers at the participating schools. Study data revealed that the two predictors most associated with indicators of parental involvement were teacher efficacy and school socioeconomic status. Higher levels of teacher efficacy and school socioeconomic status both correlated with higher levels of parental participation.

Jeynes, W. H. (2005). A meta-analysis of the relation of parental involvement to urban elementary school student academic achievement. Urban Education, 40(3), 237–269.

The correlation between parental involvement and gains in academic test scores for urban students has been captured in multiple research studies. Jeynes conducted a meta-analysis on these studies, focusing on specific manifestations of parental involvement and the effects of parental involvement across different kinds of academic measures, especially standardized versus nonstandardized measures. The meta-analysis for this study included three components: determining effect sizes for the overall parental involvement variable and for parental involvement programs, examining the association between specific components of parental involvement (e.g., parental expectations, participation in school events) and student achievement, and examining the relationship between parental involvement and student achievement by race and gender. A comprehensive search of social studies databases was used to find studies for the meta-analysis. To be included in the meta-analysis, studies had to examine parental involvement in a way that could be conceptually and statistically distinguished from other primary variables under consideration, use a fair and accurate control group if a control group was used, include a sufficient amount of statistical information to determine effect sizes, and be set in an urban environment. The search process yielded 41 studies that focused on the relationship between parental involvement and urban elementary school student achievement.

Parental expectations yielded the largest effect sizes of the specific aspects of parental involvement. Effect sizes for parental involvement were larger for urban children than for suburban children. Parental reading and parental expectations were important predictors of academic outcomes. Jeynes' work also found that schools with defined and structured parental involvement programs typically produced better academic results for students.

Kohl, G. O., Lengua, L. J., McMahon, R. J., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2000). Parent involvement in school: Conceptualizing multiple dimensions and their relations with family and demographic risk factors. Journal of School Psychology, 38(6), 501–523.

The authors addressed inadequacies in current measures of parent involvement in schools by analyzing predictors of parent involvement for elementary school students in urban neighborhoods. Risk factors associated with a lack of parent involvement in this study were parental education level, single-parent status, and maternal depression. Ethnicity was also measured as a moderator.

Parents, children, and teachers from four areas of the country were selected to participate, each representing a different cross-section of the American population: Durham, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; and a rural region of Central Pennsylvania. A parent-teacher involvement questionnaire was developed for the project. Its aim was to assess various facets of parent—school partnerships including the amount, type, and initiator of contact that occurs between parents and teachers; the quality of the relationship between parents and teachers; the parent's involvement in the child's school; the degree of academic stimulation at home; and parent satisfaction with the child's school.

Quantitative data analysis conveyed that all three of the risk factors—parental education, maternal depression, and single-parent status—were significantly and differentially related to parental involvement. Low parental education was associated with lower levels of active involvement, but not related to the quality of the parent-teacher relationship or the parent's endorsement of the school. An analysis of maternal depression revealed that depressed mothers are less likely to demonstrate involvement in almost every area except direct parent-teacher contact. Single-parent status was not reported as a significant risk factor for parental involvement. No significant differences emerged in the overall patterns of relations among risk- and parent-involvement factors between African-American and Caucasian families.

Milne, A. M., Mey, D. E., Rosenthal, A. S., & Ginsburg, A. (1986). Single parents, working mothers, and the educational achievement of school children. Sociology of Education, 59, 125–139.

Milne and colleagues examined the impact of living in a single-parent home on students' academic achievement. The influence of having a single mother who worked often was also assessed. The study included data from 12,649 elementary school students and 2,720 high school sophomores and seniors selected from the National Education Longitudinal Study. Educational proficiency was measured by scores on the reading and mathematics subtests of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, and total effects for two-parent and one-parent families were estimated across models within race. All single-parent homes were headed by women, and the total effects of mothers' employment on student's achievement were also calculated. The effects of the variables presented differed by student age, race, and family structure. The benefits of having two parents at home were most significant for African-American elementary school students. Mothers' employment generated the most notable benefits for African-American elementary school students. Having a single parent at home produced negative effects for all students, but the largest negative impact was seen for black students.

Rutherford, B., & Billig, S. H. (1995). Eight lessons of parent, family, and community involvement in the middle grades. The Phi Delta Kappan, 77(1), 64–66.

Rutherford and Billig's research focused on family and community involvement in middle schools. The study focused on involvement in three types of parent involvement/school reform efforts: comprehensive district-wide programs, school restructuring, and adult/child learning programs. Case studies were conducted for nine schools to determine how schools and districts involve families as part of educational reform. Rutherford and Billig focused on the middle grades as a critical period during a student's academic career. Their research found that sustained parent/family involvement and community involvement depended on active advocacy by school and community leadership. They also suggested that the structure for family and community involvement should be shared by a broad array of participants, including students.

Sheldon, S. B. (2002). Parents' social networks and beliefs as predictors of parent involvement. The Elementary School Journal, 102(4) 301–316.

Sheldon's study attempted to build upon existing research on parental involvement in schools. Sheldon used ethnographic methods to examine the relationship between the social networks of elementary school parents and parent involvement at home and school. Social networks were chosen as key indicators for the study because the author cited previous research that indicated the social context in which families live can serve as a predictor of parent involvement. Two elementary schools, one urban and one suburban in a midsize Midwestern city, participated in the study. The schools that were selected provided variety in ethnic background and socioeconomic status. Surveys were developed and sent home to all first- through fifth-grade students at the two schools. A cover letter was attached that explained the purpose of the survey, and mothers or maternal guardians were asked to return it to the research team. Participation from mothers was solicited based on previous research the authors quoted that claimed mothers tend to be more involved with the academic and intellectual development of their children. If two children in one family attended the school, mothers were asked to complete the survey with their oldest child in mind.

The survey featured questions on demographic characteristics and parents' beliefs, social networks, and involvement behaviors. Parents' social networks were measured by asking each respondent to provide the first and last names of up to seven other parents whose children attended the same school as their own child and with whom they most often discussed issues pertaining to their child's education or school. The respondents were also asked to list up to five other adults with whom they spoke often about their child's education. For each adult listed, parents were asked to indicate if they were a relative, worked in the field of education, and/or were the parent of a child enrolled in a different school.

A 10-item scale measured involvement at home, and a 5-item scale measured involvement at school. Multiple regression analysis was used to measure the quantitative data. Results from the surveys indicated that the number of other parents or adults each mother spoke to about their child predicted increased involvement at home and at school. Grade level and parents' education level did not significantly predict parent involvement at home or at school, and the parents who listed wider social networks were also more involved in their children's home life. The number of respondents with children at the same school and with whom a respondent interacted predicted parental involvement at school, while the number of other adults (e.g., relatives, and/or parents with children at another school) with whom a parent spoke about her own child predicted parental involvement at home. The authors suggested that understanding social networks as influences on parent involvement can serve as a resource for schools and teachers.

Professional Development

Epstein, J. L., & Sanders, M. G. (2006). Prospects for change: Preparing educators for school, family and community partnerships. Peabody Journal of Education, 81(2), 81–120.

Teacher education programs vary from state to state and from educational institution to institution. Epstein and Sanders developed a survey designed to examine courses and content presently offered to prospective educators at colleges and universities. Their research also sought to analyze the preparation of future teachers and administrators to conduct school, family, and community partnerships. Surveys were sent to a random sample of 500 deans in colleges and universities in the United States that grant degrees in education, drawn from the Quality Education Data List of Deans of Education. The list was stratified by sector to ensure a representative sample of public and private institutions. Demographic data were collected for the 161 participating schools, including information concerning program structure and present course offerings; external guidelines for preparing educators to conduct partnership activities; leaders' attitudes and beliefs about school, family, and community partnerships; and graduates' preparedness to conduct partnership activities. Ascertaining student readiness to conduct and develop family and community engagement strategies was a primary focus of the research. The authors also collected data on the number and nature of full, required, and elective courses on the percentage of classes available that focused on topics concerning school-family-community connections and the placement of graduates among inner-city, urban, suburban, and rural districts.

Quantitative analysis of acquired survey data revealed that more than one-half of respondents indicated they offered classes on community and family engagement and that the classes were required. Despite this finding, 80 percent of respondents indicated their students were not prepared to engage in creating family and community partnerships upon graduation. More than 80 percent of the schools surveyed enrolled 10 percent or fewer African-American, Latino, or Asian-American students, and many schools served no students from racial minority groups even though more than 60 percent of graduating students were placed into schools with a high percentages of racial minority groups. The majority of educational leadership officials surveyed mentioned that school, family, and community partnerships should be more prominent, and that required coursework regarding family and community engagement should increase. The authors suggested further examination of teacher education programs as a strategy to increase family and community engagement.

District and Administrative Support

Mattingly, D. J., Prislin, R., McKenzie, T. L., Rodriguez, J. L., & Kayzar, B. (2002). Evaluating evaluations: The case of parent involvement programs. American Educational Research Association, 72(4), 549–576.

Mounting research suggests that the quality of relationships between communities and schools plays a key role in determining student outcomes. Mattingly et. al. conducted a literature review of evaluations of K–12 parent involvement programs to assess claims that such programs were an effective means to improve student learning. Sources were gathered from the U.S. Department of Education's Educational Resources Information Center. An initial analysis yielded 213 studies that were read in their entirety for possible inclusion in the literature review. A majority of these studies was rejected for not providing outcomes of interventions or detailing substantial information about the interventions or evaluation methods. The literature review included 41 studies. 

To meet the selection criteria, studies had to provide extensive information across the following categories: program description (size, duration, program development, types of interventions), context (information about community, school, and program participants), evaluation (types of data and analyses), and outcomes (measured for students, parents, and teachers). The majority of the selected studies did not include parents, teachers, or individual schools as part of the evaluation design. A majority of the parents to whom intervention efforts were extended across the studies was low-income, nonwhite, and more likely to be mothers than fathers. Among the studies included in the literature review, 83 percent featured more than one type of intervention model. Analysis of the studies revealed that 71.4 percent of the 14 program evaluations measuring parent-school communication reported improvement, and five of the six (88.3 percent) evaluations that assessed parent education reported improvement. The authors also concluded that more than two thirds (67.9 percent) of studies that measured student academic achievement reported improvement. Based on their findings, the authors suggested that structured parental improvement programs in schools are an effective method to increase positive student outcomes, but that they could be more effective if they were subject to more rigorous evaluations. Strategies suggested to improve the quality of these evaluations included incorporating a control group to account for maturation and history effects and developing less subjective indicators of effectiveness.

Sanders, M. G., & Harvey, A. (2002). Beyond school walls: A case study of principal leadership for school-community collaboration. The Teachers College Record, 107(4), 1345–1368.

Sanders and Lewis conducted a case study focused on principal leadership in cultivating school and community collaboration. The qualitative data were collected to provide insight into the factors that support school-community partnerships and the role that principals play in developing them. The school selected for the case study was located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The majority of students in the district were African American and low income. The school was selected as part of a three-stage process. First, the district's facilitators for partnerships were asked to identify exemplary schools that had effective partnership programs with high levels of family involvement and strong community links. The second stage involved verifying the information provided on schools' partnership efforts, and the final stage involved conducting telephone interviews with key school personnel. Schools were then rated based on the number and quality of their community partnerships and the structure and effectiveness of their action teams that featured partnerships among school, family, and community members. The school with the highest rating agreed to participate in the case study and received $1,000 to implement partnership activities during the 1999–2000 school year as compensation.

Interviews and observation data were the primary strategies for data collection. Included in the analysis were parent interviews and student focus groups. Through the analysis, Sanders and Harvey identified four key factors that allowed the school to create and sustain effective community partnerships: the principal's support and vision for community involvement, the school's commitment to learning, receptivity and openness to community involvement, and willingness to engage in two-way communication with potential community partners about their level and type of involvement. The authors also cited district support as a reason for success in creating partnerships.

Specific Content Areas

Mathematics Education

Bali, S. J., Demo, D. H., & Wedman, J. F. (1998). Family involvement with children's homework: An intervention in the middle grades. Family Relations, 47(2), 149–157.

This research team investigated the potential influence of an intervention developed to increase mathematics scores by having parents help their children at home. The authors also sought to determine whether there is a difference between reported levels of family involvement with mathematics homework and reported levels of family involvement with other homework assignments, and the influence of family variables such as parent education level, family structure, and family size. A total of 74 sixth-grade students from a middle school in Missouri participated in the study. Prior mathematics achievement was assessed using the Missouri Mastery and Achievement Test. Students were randomly assigned into three groups.

The first group was given no prompts to involve family members, students in the second group were prompted to involve family members, and third-group students were prompted to involve family members and family members were also prompted to help. All students were given a homework intervention that required interaction with a family member to complete the assignment as part of a program called "Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork." Students also took a 10-question homework survey to assess family involvement with mathematics homework and other homework assignments. Survey data indicated that, compared to families that were not prompted, families in the two classes receiving prompts were significantly more involved in mathematics homework activities. The data also revealed that two-parent families were more likely to provide homework help for their children than single-parent families. Family involvement with homework help was not found to be a direct predictor of student success, but the authors suggested that giving prompts to both students and their families to work collaboratively on assignments could lead to increased family engagement.

Sheldon, S. B., & Epstein, J. L. (2005). Involvement counts: Family and community partnerships and mathematics achievement. The Journal of Educational Research, 98(4), 196–207.

This study examined the possible correlation between student achievement in mathematics and increased amounts of family and community involvement in schools. A total of 18 schools from states including Ohio, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California participated in the survey. Each school selected was part of the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) and participated in a project entitled Focus Results on Math, which analyzed the measurable effects of school, family, and community partnerships on students in elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Schools in the NNPS that were not participating in the Focus Results on Math project were used as a comparison group.

A baseline and follow-up survey were sent to the selected schools regarding school characteristics, planned school and community practices, and mathematics achievement test results. The study team wanted to determine whether the use and effectiveness of specific school practices derived from the Focus Results on Math project related to increased academic achievement in mathematics for students at the selected schools. All participating schools in the partnership effort performed the following three activities: giving parents information on how to contact mathematics teachers, scheduling conferences with parents of students who were struggling in mathematics, and providing information about student progress and problems in mathematics on report cards. These three common practices were rated the most effective for helping students improve their mathematics achievement. Data analysis showed strong associations between the percentage of students who scored at or above proficiency levels in mathematics and students who received the Focus Results on Math intervention.

The data analyzed also revealed that elementary school students displayed more growth than any other student group. The authors suggest that structured approaches should be developed to increase family involvement in mathematics coursework.

Early Childhood

Fantuzzo, J., McWayne, C., Perry, M. A., & Childs, S. (2004). Multiple dimensions of family involvement and their relations to behavioral and learning competencies for urban, low-income children. School Psychology Review, 33(4), 467–480.

The research team studied how family involvement influenced behavioral and learning competencies for preschool students. The research measured behavioral and learning competencies in a Head Start program in the fall at the beginning of the program and at the end of the year. The study also sought to measure the growth of foundational approaches to learning, classroom conduct, and receptive vocabulary skills throughout the school year.

Children ranging in age from 46 to 68 months in a Head Start program in a Northeastern city participated in the survey. Among parent participants, 71 percent were single and 55 percent were unemployed. Boys and girls were equally represented in the study, and more than 95 percent of participants were African American. Questions were derived from the Family Involvement Questionnaire. Quantitative analysis was used to compare data from the beginning to the end of the year.

Results from the study demonstrated that parent involvement was associated with student learning and classroom behavioral adjustment outcomes. Home-based involvement activities such as reading to a child at home, providing a place for educational activities, and asking a child about school were most strongly related to future classroom competencies. School-based family involvement activities were associated with decreased behavior problems in the classroom as well as home-based involvement activities.

Waanders, C., Mendez, J. L., & Downer, J. T. (2007). Parent characteristics, economic stress and neighborhood context as predictors of parent involvement in preschool children's education. Journal of School Psychology, 45(6), 619–636.

The research team examined patterns of parental involvement in preschool settings. Three dimensions of parental involvement served as the focus of research: school-based involvement, home-based involvement, and the parent-teacher relationship. Participants in the study were 154 mostly African-American parents selected from two Head Start programs. The study addressed three main questions: (1) How are parent-report, teacher-report, and an objective record of parent involvement activities associated? (2) How do parent characteristics (education, efficacy) and perceptions of context (street crime, neighborhood disorder, local social networks, economic stress) relate to parent involvement in Head Start? (3) What are the relative contributions of parent characteristics and perceived context to different dimensions of parent involvement?

The two participating Head Start centers were located in a medium-sized metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States. Children of parents in the study were ages 3 to 5 years, and 62 percent of the participants were single parents. Twelve classroom teachers from the Head Start program also participated in the study. Each participant completed a brief demographic survey regarding their relationship to the Head Start student, their ethnicity, marital and employment status, education level, and living situation, as well as two additional national surveys to gather information on family involvement and neighborhood quality. Data gathered from Head Start instructors were also used to assess parental involvement.

The researchers discovered some interesting information. Teachers' ratings of their relationships with parents significantly correlated with parent reports of school-based involvement. Additionally, parents' attendance at center events significantly correlated with teacher ratings of their relationships with parents. Elements such as economic stress and neighborhood social disorder related negatively to parent involvement. Parent characteristics, including sense of efficacy regarding education and level of education, aligned positively to parent involvement. The authors suggested that parent involvement is a function of the interaction between family, school, and the community, and certainly not the responsibility of parents alone.

Physical Education and Health Education

Hoelscher, D. M., Springer, A. E., Ranjit, N., Perry, C. L., Evans, A. E., Stigler M., et al. (2010). Reductions in child obesity among disadvantaged school children with community involvement: The Travis County CATCH trial. Obesity, 18(Suppl. 1), S36–S44.

Childhood obesity is a significant public health issue that disproportionally impacts minority youth in low-income communities. Many schools in those areas have unequal access to parks, recreation centers, and physical education classes. This study was designed to compare the impact of school-based intervention models on the prevalence of child overweight and obesity.

The study team recruited 97 schools across four school districts in Texas to participate in this longitudinal study. The evaluation focused on low-income schools, 15 of which received CATCH BP training, and 15 of which received CATCH BPC training. Students included in the study were in the third, fourth, and fifth grades. Students completed surveys and researchers observed students during physical education classes. The intervention was implemented for the duration of the school year. The percentage of students who participated in a school-based obesity prevention program decreased for students who only had classroom intervention. The authors concluded that the emphasis of the community in the intervention enhanced program outcomes.

Michael, S., Dittus, P., & Epstein, J. L. (2006). Family and community involvement in schools: Results from the school health policies and programs study 2006. Journal of School Health, 77(8), 567–587.

The study team developed a comprehensive research study focusing on family and community involvement as a strategy to improve knowledge about physical and health education. As part of the School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS), the authors contacted educational personnel in school districts across the United States regarding community involvement in physical and health education. This study used a framework of six types of involvement (parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community) to describe family and community involvement at the state, district, school, and classroom levels. The study team disseminated computer-assisted telephone interviews or self-administered mail questionnaires to 461 respondents across a representative sample of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Computer-assisted personal interviews were conducted with personnel in a national sample of elementary, middle, and high schools (n = 1,029) as well as with a sample of teachers of required health education classes and courses (n = 912) and required physical education classes and courses (n = 1,194).

During a 6-year period, the team used data from public and private elementary, middle, and high schools for the survey. They also collected classroom-level data from teachers of randomly selected classes regarding required health instruction and physical education classes in elementary schools and randomly selected required health and physical education courses in middle and high schools. The study assessed family and community involvement in school health programs with questions integrated into the SHPPS questionnaires and covered topics including family and community involvement in school health councils, school participation in community-based health programs, teacher encouragement of family and community involvement, and staff development on promoting family and community involvement.

The data showed that teachers in 55.5 percent of required health education classes and 30.8 percent of required physical education classes gave students homework or projects that involved family members. Nationwide, 46.4 percent of districts and 28.2 percent of schools offered health education to families, and 27.8 percent of districts and 21.1 percent of schools offered families physical education or physical activity programs. Only 59.2 percent of states and 51 percent of districts provided funding for staff development or offered staff development for physical education teachers on practices encouraging family or community involvement in health education. The researchers found that promoting participation was one of the strongest predictors of family and community involvement in schools, and that stronger efforts needed to be made by educational institutions to encourage family involvement in health and physical education programs.

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