Increasing Student Achievement byIncreasing Parent Involvement 1 Dr. Cynthia Fuselier, Director of Curriculum, New Brighton Area School District
Bounded Awareness Bounded awareness is the phenomenon in which individuals do not “see” accessible and perceivable information during the decision-making process, while “seeing” other equally accessible and perceivable information. As a result, useful information remains out of focus for the decision-maker. 2
How does this apply to parent involvement? Test Scores/Adequate Yearly Progress Athletics Behavior Awards Safety No Child Left Behind 3
What we know research says about parent involvement… Partnerships tend to decline across the grades. Affluent communities currently have more positive family involvement, on average, unless schools and teachers in economically distressed communities work to build positive partnerships with their students’ families. Schools in more economically depressed communities make more contacts with families about the problems and difficulties their children are having. Single parents, parents who are employed outside the home, parents who live far from the school, and fathers are less involved, on average, at the school building, unless the school organizes opportunities for families to volunteer at various times and in various places to support the school and their children. 4
The research says… Teachers who create partnerships with parents are more likely to report that all parents can help their children. These teachers are less likely to stereotype single parents, poor parents, or those with less education as unable to help. 5
What happens when parents are involved? Children get higher grades and test scores. Children have better attitudes and behavior. Children complete more homework. Children are more likely to complete high school and enroll in post high school education. 6
Parent Involvement The more involved parents are in their child’s education, the more likely the child is to succeed in school. Research shows that parent support is more important to school success than a student’s IQ, economic status, or school setting. 7
Parent Involvement and History Prior to the 1960s, it was thought that the differences in schools, the resources in the schools, teachers, and other factors were the main reasons children in some schools did better than children in other schools on achievement scores and pursuing post-secondary education. 8
Coleman Report The Coleman Report found that differences in families were overwhelmingly more important than the differences in the schools the children attended. Of course the study found that schools were important, everyone already knew that, but the big news from the report was that families were the most important! Since the 1960s and continuing through today, studies are finding the same result. Children’s families have the biggest overall influence on student achievement! 9
the research continues… This same report led to a study of 1900 elementary students that found… …when schools encouraged students to read at home with parents, they made much bigger gains than children who practiced only at school with teachers – regardless of their race and/or socioeconomic status. 10
Are you surprised that… …measurements of a child’s intelligence less than one-year-old show virtually no racial or social-class differences, yet racial and social class achievement gaps are firmly established by the time students start kindergarten? Something happens before kindergarten that produces differences in academic proficiency. 11
Could this be it? A child from a low-income family is read to an average of 25 hours before entering kindergarten, while a child from a middle-income family is read to an average of 1,700 hours. McQuillan, J. (1998). The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions. Packard and MacArthur Foundations. 12
When are children learning? Are they learning in the morning? In the afternoon? In the car? At home? When they’re alone? With friends? At school? Playing games? When is it that they learn? How would you answer this question? What do you believe researchers will say about this question? 13
Children are Learning Research shows that children are learning all the time and everywhere. They even learn things we don’t intend for them to learn! 14
Did you know? More than 85 % of a child’s waking, learning hours are spent out of school, primarily at home? 15
Let’s Do the Math… Assume children sleep 8 hours/day. 24 hours/day – 8 hours sleeping = 16 waking hours/day 365 days/year x 18 years = 6,570 days 6,570 days x 16 waking hours/day =105,120 waking hours/day by age 18. Assume children are in school an average of 6.5 hours/day. 180 school days per year x 6.5 hours/school day = 1,170 hours/school year. 1,170 hours/ school year x 13 years (1 year in kindergarten plus 12 years through high school) = 15,210 school hours. 15,210 school hours/105,120 waking hours = .1446 or 14.46% of waking hours by age 18 spent in school. That means 85.54% of a child’s time is spent elsewhere – mainly at home. 16
Working Together If we want the very best, most productive education for children today, we need to combine what parents do best and what schools do best. 17
What do schools do best? Provide formal education like the Three Rs: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic Teachers are best at teaching: Science Languages Mathematics Fine Arts History Sports 18
What do parents do best? Parents, better than anyone else, teach their children the essentials for success in life: Self-worth Self-respect Self-discipline Work ethic Manners Motivation Character Traits Love 19
Providing learning resources at home Parents don’t need a lot of expensive equipment, but children need a quiet place to study. Children also need few basic reference books – a dictionary, an atlas, and an almanac – will make study time easier and more productive. 20
Help parents help their children develop routines
Have regular homework or reading time.
Have a regular bedtime that allows for plenty of rest.
Give children a nutritious breakfast every morning.
Parents can turn daily activities into learning activities Cook. Children can read the recipe and measure ingredients. Do laundry. Children can sort laundry by color, read washing instructions, measure laundry soap, and time wash cycles. Go grocery shopping. Children can write the shopping list, compare prices, and identify and classify food items. Organize the house. Children can sort and arrange items in the junk drawer. 22
Greet guest by name and reinforce the values and attitudes of the New Brighton Area School District on a daily basis! 23
Do you make parents feel welcome? Do you provide adequate parking? Give a cheerful welcome? Display signs? Have handouts? Display student work? Have a school marquee? Have clear expectations for students and staff? 24
How is your waiting area? Do visitors and parents have something to read? Is there something available for them to view? 25
Provide a personal touch Nothing beats a personal invitation to attend an event.
Have parents call parents. Have parent volunteers reach out to new families in the community to invite them to attend. Parents will be more likely to participate if they feel welcome and if they know at least one other family attending.
Have teachers call parents. Parents will be more likely to attend if they have a call from someone they respect and someone they know is working hard to promote their child’s academic success—their child’s teacher.
Provide an incentive Try offering the following to motivate parents to attend:
Discount coupons. Have a parent-teacher team solicit coupons from local restaurants and businesses to distribute at your event.
Handouts. Advertise that you will have handouts of learning activities parents can use at home to help their child. Prepare take-home packets to distribute in advance.
Ask students to write invitations to their parents -Or have a fold-over invitation printed and have each student add an illustration to the cover.
Allow children to attend - Set up an activity for the children while the parents are engaged in the meeting. Recruit a parent-teacher team to plan it and provide adult supervision during the event.
Make attending convenient Most parents work hard all day. To motivate them to attend: Schedule it early in the evening. Most families want to be home by 8:00 pm. Begin and end promptly. Advertise a beginning and a closing time. Then stick to your schedule. Parents will be more likely to attend your next event if they know they can be home for their child’s bedtime. Do something they enjoy – Have a party! 29
Do what ever it takes to create a family atmosphere in your building Have you ever walked into a place and felt uncomfortable? Were you able to focus on the reason you came to the place as well as you would have had you not been uncomfortable? 30
Once you have parents involved… Ensure the success of your meeting by Establishing a fun, friendly, non-threatening atmosphere. Having plenty of signs and or helpers to guide parents to the right room as they arrive. Greeting parents individually or cordially as they enter the room. Avoiding questions that any parent can answer incorrectly, so there is never a possibility of embarrassing anyone. Having nametags for parents and staff. 31
Extra Touches mean a lot … Serve refreshments Remember that some parents may be uncomfortable reading or writing in public Have plenty of handouts Start and end on time, respecting parents’ childcare arrangements and family commitments 32
During your parent meetings inform parents about standardized testing Dates the tests are given Names of tests and how the results are used Let the parents know when they will get results and how they will receive them? 33
What if a parent still will not come out? Send home information they will read Keep it short. Keep articles in the document short. Make headlines exciting. Good quality print. Try including pictures. 34
Try a home visit Don’t surprise parents – let them know that you are coming. Send a postcard to remind them. Be on time. Focus on the student. Give parents information they can use. Thank parents for allowing you to visit. 35
Week in Review Form To: 21st Century Teachers From: 21st Century Principal Date: March 30, 2009 Every week I will pick three parents that spent significant time in my building to help keep me informed of what is going on in our school. Please answer the questions as briefly and honestly as you can. What went RIGHT this week? What went WRONG this week? How would you fix #2? What instructional strategies did you witness a teacher use that you were excited about? Do you have any ideas to help us be a better school? 36
Ideas to ponder throughout the year What major factors contributed to the success of my school’s family and community involvement efforts this year? What major factors limited the success of my school’s family and community involvement efforts this year? What is one of my school’s major goals for improving its program of school, family, and community partnerships over the next three years? 37
We Need Excellent Schools! Schools can’t do it all. Parents can’t do it all. But when parents and schools work together great things happen. 38