Does parental involvement increase student achievement? How, why, and for whom?
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Increasing the amount and quality of parental involvement as a means of increasing student achievement has been an important policy focus for the last half century, and is especially true today as the United States is faced with an increasingly diverse student body in its public school system. This report examines what parental involvement and student achievement are, the impact of parental involvement, which groups receive the most impact, and factors that affect parental involvement. The focus is the elementary school level, using literacy level as the primary means of student achievement. Of particular interest are schools with diverse student populations that tend to be linguistically diverse and are identified under the federal Title I program. Current research indicates a positive relationship between parental involvement and its effect on student achievement. The most important factor for quality parental involvement that results in improved student achievement is not the type of activity, but how interaction occurs and the intensity level. Parental involvement programs should provide targeted activities that are curriculum related and culturally sound; they must also have the capacity to be practically implemented in the increasingly busy lives of parents and students. While current studies do support this relationship, parental involvement operates within a complex web of interrelated contexts; further quantitative research using more experimental methods and controlled studies could provide results that would strengthen the evidence of using parental involvement as a policy or program choice for increasing student achievement. Policy recommendations are directed primarily at school teachers and administration. Those recommendations are to 1) ensure a welcoming environment through invitations by teachers and students; 2) increase parental self-efficacy; 3) develop extended family resources; 4) highlight the different avenues of parental involvement; 5) allow time for teachers to plan and develop relationships; and 6) ask the parents.