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Status of Education Reform in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: Teachers' Perspective
NCES: 1999045
February 1999

Involving Parents in Student Learning Activities and Need for Information

Various studies, including Strong Families, Strong Schools (U.S. Department of Education, 1994), show that when parents are involved in their children's education, children perform better at school. Many schools have been actively looking for ways to improve parental involvement in student academic activities. Thus, teachers were asked to indicate the extent to which they engaged in particular activities with parents of students enrolled in their classes (Table 5 and appendix Table B-5, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6).

About one-fourth of all teachers reported that they provided information or advice to parents to a great extent to help them create supportive learning environments at home, and a similar proportion of teachers said they shared responsibility with parents for the academic performance of their children to a great extent (28 percent and 26 percent, respectively). Ten percent of all teachers reported involving parents in classroom activities to a great extent (Table 5 and appendix Table B-5, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6).

At least one-fourth of all teachers (27 to 33 percent) reported that they "very much needed" information about involving parents in student learning for each type of activity (Table 5).

Differences among parental involvement activities were found primarily by school level. Elementary school teachers were more likely than high school or middle school teachers to report engaging in these parental involvement activities to a great extent. For example, while 46 percent of elementary school teachers reported providing information or advice to parents to a great extent to help create a more supportive learning environment at home, 20 percent of middle school teachers and 10 percent of high school teachers did so (Figure 3 and appendix Table B-5, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6). Similarly, elementary school teachers were more likely than middle and high school teachers to report involving parents in classroom activities to a great extent (17 percent compared to 5 and 3 percent, respectively). Elementary school teachers were more likely than middle or high school teachers to report sharing responsibility with parents for the academic performance of their children to a great extent (35 percent compared to 15 percent, respectively).

Self-contained classroom teachers, those responsible for teaching all or most subjects to the same class, are primarily elementary school teachers, and differences reported by subject area are correlated with those reported by level. Self-contained classroom teachers were more likely to report that they engaged in parental involvement activities to a great extent than were mathematics, science, social studies, and English/language arts teachers. About half of all self-contained classroom teachers reported providing information or advice to parents to help them create supportive learning environments at home (48 percent) compared to 11 percent of science, 17 percent of mathematics, 18 percent of social studies, and 22 percent of English/language arts teachers (Table 6 and appendix Table B-5, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6). Similar differences by main subject area taught were reported by the extent to which teachers involved parents in classroom activities. Self-contained classroom teachers were more likely to report sharing responsibility with parents for academic performance of their children (38 percent) than those teaching mainly social studies (20 percent), science (17 percent), and mathematics (15 percent).

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