Monday, September 16, 2019

Parental Involvement, Poverty, and Student Achievement Essay

Current education reform is intended to influence higher student achievement. According to Hanushek (1997), the development of school reform is largely motivated by economic issues. Education reform becomes a meaningful topic on the national agenda when the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued a report, A Nation At Risk (1983). This report focused on the claim that a steady increase in mediocrity had overcome schools which impacted upon the economic competitiveness of the country. One example of this competitiveness was when the Soviet Union 1957 launched Sputnik. It was concluded that declines in educational performance were in large part the result of inadequacies in the way the educational process was conducted. The findings that follow, selected from a much more extensive list, reflect four important aspects of the educational process: content, expectations, time, and teaching. The United States government responded by beginning reform of how its educational system. As part of this process, all segments, including parent committees, were formed to give attention to the implementation of the recommendations of the report. The report further stated that reform should not only come from students, teachers, school boards, colleges and universities, local, state, and federal officials, teachers’ and administrators’ organizations, but also from parents themselves with interested in and responsibility for educational significance begin with the parent. Moreover, you bear a responsibility to participate actively in your child’s education. You should encourage more diligent study and discourage satisfaction with mediocrity and the attitude that says let it slide, monitor your child’s study; encourage good study habits; encourage your child to take more demanding rather than less demanding courses; nurture your child’s curiosity, creativity, and confidence; and be an active participant in the work of the schools. Above all, exhibit a commitment to continued learning in your own life. Finally, help your children understand that excellence in education cannot be achieved without intellectual and moral integrity coupled with hard work and commitment (p. 26) Henderson and Berla (1994) did extensive research linking parental involvement to student achievement. There are a variety of parenting practices that have been associated with positive student outcomes. Despite this research, Desimone (2001) contends that there is still no clear understanding of how patterns and effects of parental involvement differ across ethnic and income groups. Previous studies have shown that parent involvement patterns vary according to parental social, racial-ethnic, and economic characteristics (Catsambis & Garland, 1997), but the findings have been mixed. Several studies have reported that low income minority parents often have different beliefs about parents’ role in school involvement are less involved in school activities than higher income, non-minority parents (Delgado-Gaitan, 1991; Chavkin & Williams, 1993). Other studies, however, have demonstrated that the level of parent involvement by race-ethnicity (i. e. , Asian, African-American, Hispanic, and white) differs for only a few types of involvement and that minority parents have higher levels of involvement in certain areas than do white parents (Catsambis & Garland, 1997). Previous studies have reported that low-income minority parents often have different beliefs regarding parental roles in school involvement and are less involved (Chavkin & Williams, 1993). Comer and Haynes (1991) have hypothesized that low income and inner city minority students may be more positively affected by certain types of parent involvement than other students. According to them, in order for parental involvement programs to be successful, they need to be focused upon a school improvement process that is designed to create positive relationships that support the total development of children and not the traditional bureaucratic or authoritative school environment which is a less collaborative structure. Other theorists (Devaney, Ellwood, and Love, 1997; Lewit, Terman, & Behrman, 1997) suggests that parental involvement may not be as effective in improving student achievement for low income children as for children from middle class homes. Because the large number of risk factors that impact upon children living in poverty, including health, safety, and housing, the role of parental involvement in schools in explaining academic outcomes for those children may be significantly less than for their peers who do not experience as many negative environment influences. Desimone (2001) suggests that race-ethnicity and other background characteristics can be strong mediators in the effects of various types of parental actions and the impact they have on student achievement. While work in this area is limited, there is little information that compares the effects of multiple forms of parental involvement across several racial/ethnic and income groups. McNeal’s (2001) study investigated the relationships between parent involvement and socioeconomic status. Findings indicated that parental involvement was an important factor in explaining behavioral outcomes (such as truancy and dropping out) but not cognitive outcomes (such as science achievement), with the greatest support for parent child discussion and involvement in parent-teacher organizations. He contends that there have been inconsistencies with the findings linking parental involvement to academic achievement. The contradictions likely were related to one of the following weaknesses in research. The first condition was the use of perception measures by teachers rather than direct reports by students and/or parents. Another was a failure to fully conceptualize parent involvement into its constituent parts. The last was not fully assessing the extent to which parental involvement differently affects academic achievement by social class. The three shortcomings can be improved upon but parent involvement has little effect on student achievement because it is a cognitive outcome and parental involvement affects behavioral outcomes. Reginald Clark’s research shares findings from a body of research on closing achievement gaps in urban school communities (Ferguson, Clark, & Stewart, 2002). In Clark documents the importance of five influential factors for improved students achievement, especially among disadvantages urban students. The first factor is described as the teacher’s expectations and actions in the classroom. The second is amount of students’ weekly participation in high-yield in and out of school activities. High-yield out of school activities include: leisure reading, writing, studying, and participation in community and school clubs or programs, and playing organized sports. High-yield in school activities include participating in classroom lessons as well as structured leisure activities. The third factor is the quality of students’ participation in and out of school activities. The fourth factor is parental beliefs and expectations. The fifth factor is parent-teacher communication. Ferguson, Clark and Stewart, 2002 found that the type and amounts of constructive in school and out of school learning activities contribute to a success-oriented lifestyle. More specifically, Clark found that high achieving activities. Some examples of actions in the classroom include reading, working alone on a lesson, listening to a lecture, solving a problem with classmates, or asking questions. Ferguson, Clark and Stewart, 2002 found that high achievers spent more time during out of school high-yield learning activities than low achievers. Some activities include: weekly time dialoguing with adults, hobby or volunteer activities, or organized sports. Regular study and homework routines, with adult monitoring or support, and reading and writing activities also were seen as practices in the home. Some less structured or unstructured activities include hanging out, playing video games, talking on the telephone, and watching television. Ferguson, Clark and Stewart 2002 found that the beliefs and attitudes of parents had a significant role in student success in becoming competent readers. The analysis of data from parents of 459 students about their expectations for their child’s learning and their perception of whether they had been supported by their child’s teacher showed that students benefit when parents set high standards for their child’s performance in school and feel personally supported by partnerships they have formed with their child’s teacher. Lastly, Clark indicates that parent beliefs are likely to be influenced by parent-teacher communication. In other words, parents may benefits from well-organized teacher-led communications. When teachers take specific actions to cultivate instructional partnerships with parents, those parents are more likely to support their children’s learning at home. Clark’s data showed that students’ scores were higher on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment in reading when teachers reported more communication with parents. REFERENCES Bankston, C. L. , & Caldas, S. J. (1998). Family structure, schoolmates, and racial inequalities in school achievement. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 715-723. Braswell. J. S. , Lutkus,A. D. , Grigg,W. S. , Santapau, S. L. , Tay-Lim, B. , & Johnson, M. (2001). Subgroup results for the nation and the states. In The nation’s report card: Mathematics 2000 (pp. 53-181). Washington DC: U. S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics.

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