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Parent Involvement in Children's Education: Efforts by Public Elementary Schools
NCES: 98032
February 1998

Other Ways Schools Encourage Parent Involvement in Children's Learning

Goal 8 specifies other types of parent involvement in addition to learning activities at home to help children succeed in school and involve families in school decisionmaking. For example, volunteering in classrooms and schools has been linked to active participation in decisionmaking activities. Schools that welcome and organize volunteers to help in different ways are more likely to support parent organizations and parent representatives on decisionmaking committees (National Education Goals Panel 1995).

Parent Volunteer and Involvement Opportunities

During 1995-96, over 90 percent of all K-8 schools provided parents opportunities to volunteer both inside and outside the classrooms, to assist in fundraising, and to attend meetings of the parent-teacher organization (not shown in tables). These findings did not differ by school characteristics. Thirty-nine percent of schools offer some training for classroom volunteers, either at the school or through the district. The likelihood that parent training was offered was related to school size, urbanicity, and minority enrollment (Table 9). As school size increased, volunteer training was more likely to be offered.

Similarly, schools in cities were more likely than schools in towns or rural areas to provide this service (55 versus 33 and 22 percent), and schools with minority enrollments of 50 percent or more were more likely to offer training than those with less than 5 percent minority enrollments (49 versus 30 percent).

When asked how satisfied they were with the parental response to these involvement opportunities, schools expressed the most satisfaction with parents' assistance in fundraising activities, with 69 percent of schools indicating satisfaction with the average parent involvement in this activity (Figure 9). Approximately half of all schools expressed satisfaction with the parental response to volunteering both in and outside of the classrooms. Parent-teacher association meetings were the least satisfactory to schools, with 34 percent registering satisfaction with parents' attendance.

Schools' satisfaction with parent involvement varied by poverty concentration and minority enrollment. In general, schools with 50 percent or more minority enrollment or students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were less likely to report that they were satisfied with parent involvement in these activities than were schools with lower minority enrollments or poverty concentrations (Table 10).

Parent Resource Centers

When schools create resource centers devoted to parents' needs, they provide a signal that parents are welcome in the building. These centers typically are places where parents can get information on parenting and school-related issues and can gather informally. In some cases, resource centers sponsor classes or workshops for parents and provide referrals to social service and child care agencies (Johnson 1993).

About one-third (35 percent) of all schools reported having a parent resource center, and another 12 percent reported that one was being developed (Figure 10). Of the schools that have parent resource centers, 14 percent reported very frequent usage, 46 percent reported somewhat frequent usage, and 37 percent reported that the center was infrequently or never used.