Parental Involvement in Schools

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The percentage of students whose parents reported involvement in their schools rose significantly between 1999 and 2007 across several measures, including attendance at a general meeting, a meeting with a teacher, or a school event, and volunteering or serving on a committee.  However, these proportions fell or remained the same in 2012.

Importance

Students with parents who are involved in their school tend to have fewer behavioral problems and better academic performance, and are more likely to complete high school than students whose parents are not involved in their school.[1] Positive effects of parental involvement have been demonstrated at both the elementary and secondary levels across several studies, with the largest effects often occurring at the elementary level.[2],[3],[4] A recent meta-analysis showed that parental involvement in school life was more strongly associated with high academic performance for middle schoolers than helping with homework.[5]

Involvement allows parents to monitor school and classroom activities, and to coordinate their efforts with teachers to encourage acceptable classroom behavior and ensure that the child completes schoolwork.[6] Teachers of students with highly involved parents tend to give greater attention to those students, and they are more likely to identify at earlier stages problems that might inhibit student learning.[7] Parental involvement in school, and positive parent-teacher interactions, have also been found to positively affect teachers’ self-perception and job satisfaction.[8]

Research shows that students perform better in school if their fathers as well as their mothers are involved, regardless of whether the father lives with the student or not.[9],[10]

Trends

39_fig1Parental involvement in school, as measured by attendance at a general meeting, a meeting with a teacher, or a school event, or by volunteering or serving on a committee, rose significantly between 1999 and 2007, but fell on most measures in 2012. In 2007, 89 percent of students in kindergarten through twelfth grade had parents who attended a general meeting, compared with 78 percent in 1999. In 2012, 87 percent had parents who attended a general meeting. In 2007, 78 percent had a parent who attended a scheduled meeting with a teacher, 74 percent had a parent who attended a school event, and 46 percent had a parent who volunteered in school or served on a committee, compared with 73, 65, and 37 percent, respectively, in 1999. In 2012, the proportion who attended a scheduled meeting had fallen to 76 percent, and the proportion who volunteered or served on a committee had fallen to 42 percent. (Figure 1)

Differences by Grade

Parents are most likely to attend school meetings and events or to volunteer in their child’s school when their children are in primary school.  In 2012, more than 90 percent of students in kindergarten through fifth grade had a parent who attended a meeting with their teachers, compared with 87 percent of middle-school students, and 79 percent of ninth- through twelfth-grade students.  In the same year, 89 percent, each, of students in kindergarten through second grade, and students in third through fifth grade, had a parent who attended a scheduled meeting with a teacher, compared with 71 percent of students in middle school and 57 percent of students in high school.  Among students in kindergarten through second grade, 56 percent had parents who volunteered or served on a committee, compared with 51 percent of students in third through fifth grade, 32 percent of students in sixth through eighth grade, and 28 percent of students in ninth through twelfth grade. Attendance at school or class events, however, peaked with older elementary school students. (Appendix 2)

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin[11]

Hispanic and black students were less likely than white students to have parents who attended general meetings or school events, or who volunteered their time. In 2012, 85 percent of black, and 86 percent of Hispanic students had parents who attended a general meeting, compared with 89 percent of white students. Sixty-eight percent of black, and 64 percent of Hispanic students had a parent who attended school events, while 82 percent of white students had a parent who had done so. Thirty-two percent of Hispanic students and 31 percent of black students had a parent who volunteered their time, compared with 50 percent of white students. (Appendix 1)

Differences by Parental Educational Attainment

39_fig2Parents with higher levels of education are more likely to be involved in their children’s schools.  For example, in 2012, more than 85 percent of students whose parents had a bachelor’s degree or higher had a parent who attended a school event, compared with 48 percent for students whose parents had less than a high school education. This gap is even wider when it comes to volunteering: 19 percent of students with no parent who had graduated high school had a parent volunteer or serve on a committee, compared with 61 percent of students who had at least one parent who had completed graduate or professional school. (Figure 2)

Differences by Poverty Level

Parents of students living in a household with income above the poverty level are more likely to be involved in school activities than parents of children living in a household at or below the poverty line.  In 2011-12, for example, 45 percent of children living above the poverty line had a parent who volunteered or served on a committee at their child’s school, compared with 27 percent of children living at or below the poverty line. Parents of students living above the poverty line were more likely to be involved than parents of student living at or below the poverty line on all measures of involvement. (Appendix 2)

Differences by Parents' Language

Parents who do not speak English at home (parents who did not learn English as a child and currently speak a non-English language in the home) are less likely than other parents to attend a general school meeting or school event, or to volunteer or serve on a committee.  For example, in 2012, 50 percent of children with parents who did not speak English had a parent who attended a school event, compared with 62 percent of students with one parent who did not speak English, and 78 percent of students whose parents both spoke English. (Appendix 2)

State and Local Estimates

None available.

International Estimates

None available.

National Goals

The No Child Left Behind legislation, signed into law January 2002, aims for all children to achieve academic proficiency and gain the educational skills necessary to succeed later in life.  The law mandates that parents be informed on how they can be involved in school improvement efforts, and be provided with report cards on schools in their district, to help guide their involvement.  Schools and education agencies are required to disseminate literature on effective parent involvement, and schools receiving Title I funding must have written policies, annual meetings, and training on parental involvement, and re-evaluate and revise their strategies when needed.

For more information on the requirements see "No Child Left Behind: A Parent's Guide"

What Works to Make Progress on This Indicator

Increasing parental involvement in school can be challenging, particularly when the families concerned are economically disadvantaged, or do not have English as their primary language.  Low-income parents’ involvement in school may be hindered by transportation difficulties, chronic health conditions, or conflicts with work schedules, while parents whose primary language is not English may not feel able to participate in school activities, or may belong to a culture where questioning teachers is not a norm.[12]

Schools have employed several strategies to increase parental involvement in school, ranging from extensive promotion of events such as “back to school” nights, to school-based cultural events in areas with large immigrant populations.  Large-scale initiatives, such as the community schools movement, are also designed to increase disadvantaged families’ involvement in school by making the school a hub of social services for the neighborhood. However, few studies have rigorously evaluated the effects of such programs on parental involvement.  A recent report from the Center for American Progress provides suggestive evidence from studies of several successful community schools that these types of schools positively impact parental involvement.[13]

Related Indicators

Definition

Parental involvement in school is defined as parent reported participation at least once during the school year in attending a general school meeting; attending a scheduled meeting with their child’s teacher; attending a school event; or volunteering in the school or serving on a school committee.

Data Sources

Data for 2012: Noel, A., Stark, P., Redford, J., & Zukerberg, A. (2013). Parent and family involvement in education, from the National Household Educations Surveys Program of 2012 (NCES 2013-028), Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Table 2. Available at:  http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013028.pdf

Data for 2007: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2008). Parent and Family Involvement in Education, 2006–07 School Year (NCES 2008-050), Washington, DC. Table 3. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/2008050.pdf

Data for 2003: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2005). Parent and Family Involvement in Education: 2002-03. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office: Table 3. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005043

Data for 1996 and 1999: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2001). The Condition of Education 2001 (NCES 2001–072), Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office: Table 54-1. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2001072

Raw Data Source

National Household Education Surveys (NHES): Parent and Family Involvement in Education

http://nces.ed.gov/nhes/

 

Appendix 1 - Percentage of Students in Grades K-12 Whose Parents Reported Involvement in Their Child's School, by Type of Involvement and Selected Characteristics, Selected Years, 1996-20121

Attended General Meeting Attended scheduled meeting with teacher
1996 1999 2003 2007 2012 1996 1999 2003 2007 2012
Total 77 78 88 89  87 72 73 77 78  76
Race/Hispanic origin
White, non-Hispanic 79 81 89 91  89 73 74 76 78  77
Black, non-Hispanic 72 75 89 87  85 69 71 79 77  76
Hispanic 74 73 83 87  86 72 71 78 80  73
Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic - - 89 90  84 - - 78 80  72
Other, non-Hispanic2 73 77 87 90  88 72 73 78 74  78
Parents' highest education level
Less than high school 58 57 70 75  77 63 60 68 70  64
High school diploma or equivalent 72 73 84 84  82 69 70 75 74  72
Vocational/technical or some college 78 79 89 89  88 73 74 78 77  77
Bachelor's degree 87 87 93 94  92 77 80 80 81  80
Graduate/professional school 89 89 93 95  95 76 76 79 82  82
Attended school or class event Volunteered or served on a committee
1996 1999 2003 2007 2012 1996 1999 2003 2007 2012
Total  67  65  70  74  74  39  37  42  46  42
Race/Hispanic origin
White, non-Hispanic  72  72  74  80  82  44  43  48  54  50
Black, non-Hispanic  56  54  63  65  68  27  26  32  35  31
Hispanic  55  51  61  65  64  26  25  28  32  32
Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic  -  -  65  72  65  -  -  34  46  37
Other, non-Hispanic2  64  62  72  76  76  35  31  40  47  44
Parents' highest education level
Less than high school  42  38  42  48  48  17  13  16  20  19
High school diploma or equivalent  60  59  62  65  62  30  26  30  33  28
Vocational/technical or some college  69  67  70  72  77  39  37  39  42  41
Bachelor's degree  76  76  80  83  85  52  50  55  56  55
Graduate/professional school  82  79  80  87  89  57  54  60  64  61
1Estimates from 2003,2007, and 2012 are from questions asked to parents about the 2002-2003, 2006-2007, and 2011-2012 school years.2Includes Asian and Pacific Islanders in 1996 and 1999.

Note: Since the focus of this report is on how students' parents interact with schools, homeschoolers are excluded from all of the analyses.

Sources: Data for 1996 and 1999: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education 2001, NCES 2001–072, Washington, DC. Table 54-1; Data for 2003: Parent and Family Involvement in Education: 2002–03 (NCES 2005–043). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Table 3. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005043; Data for 2007: Parent and Family Involvement in Education, 2006–07 School Year, From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2007 (NCES 2008-050). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Table 3. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/2008050.pdf. Data for 2012: Noel, A., Stark, P., Redford, J., & Zukerberg, A. (2013). Parent and family involvement in education, from the National Household Educations Surveys Program of 2012 (NCES 2013-028), Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Table 2. Available at:  http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013028.pdf

Appendix 2 - Percentage of Students in Grades K-12 Whose Parents Reported Involvement in Their Child's School, by Type of Involvement and Selected Characteristics, 20121

Attended General Meeting Attended scheduled meeting with teacher Attended school or class event Volunteered or served on a committee
Total 87 76 74 42
Race/Hispanic origin
White, non-Hispanic 89 77 82 50
Black, non-Hispanic 85 76 68 31
Hispanic 86 73 64 32
Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic 84 72 65 37
Other, non-Hispanic 88 78 76 44
Grade
K - 2nd grade 93 89 78 56
3rd - 5th grade 92 89 83 51
6th -8th grade 87 71 72 32
9th - 12th grade 79 57 68 28
Household Poverty Status
Above poverty level 89 77 78 45
At or below poverty level 82 71 60 27
Attended General Meeting Attended scheduled meeting with teacher Attended school or class event Volunteered or served on a committee
Parents' highest education level
Less than high school 77 64 48 19
High school diploma or equivalent 82 72 62 28
Vocational/technical or some college 88 77 77 41
Bachelor's degree 92 80 85 55
Graduate/professional school 95 82 89 61
Parents' language
Both/only parent(s) speak(s) English 88 77 78 45
One of two parents speaks English 88 69 62 29
No parent speaks English 82 65 50 23
1Estimates from 2012 are from questions asked to parents about the 2011-2012 school year.Note: Since the focus of this report is on how students’ parents interact with schools, homeschoolers are excluded from all of the analyses.

Source: Noel, A., Stark, P., Redford, J., & Zukerberg, A. (2013). Parent and family involvement in education, from the National Household Educations Surveys Program of 2012 (NCES 2013-028), Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Table 2. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013028.pdf

 

Endnotes


[1]Henderson, A. T., and Berla, N. (1994). A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement. Washington, DC: National Committee for Citizens in Education.

[2]Jeynes , W. H. (2005).A meta-analysis of the relation of parental involvement to urban elementary school student academic achievement. Urban Education. 40(3), 237-269.

[3]Jeynes , W. H. (2007). The relationship between parental involvement and urban secondary school student academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Urban Education,42(1),82-110.

[4]Stewart, E. B. (2008). School structural characteristics, student effort, peer associations, and parental involvement: The influence of school- and individual-level factors on academic achievement.Education and Urban Society,40(2), 179-204.

[5]Hill, N. E. & Tyson, D. F. (2009). Parental involvement in middle school: a meta-analytic assessment of the strategies that promote achievement. Developmental Psychology, 49(3), 740-763.

[6]Hill, N., and Taylor, L. (2004). Parental school involvement and children's academic achievement: Pragmatics and issues. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(4) 161-164.

[7]Zill, N., and Nord, C. W. (1994). Running in place: How American families are faring in a changing economy and individualistic society.Washington, DC: Child Trends.

[8]Tschannen-Moran, M. and Hoy, A. W. (2007). The differential antecedents of self-efficacy beliefs of novice and experienced teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(6), 944-956.

[9]Nord, C. W., Brimhall, D., and West, J. (1998). Fathers' involvement in their children's schools. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/fathers/

[10]Nord, C. W. and West, J. (2001). Fathers' and mothers' involvement in their children's schools by family type and resident status.U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2001/2001032.pdf

[11]Hispanics may be of any race. Blacks, whites, and Asian or Pacific Islanders do not include Hispanics in this report.

[12]Tinkler, B. (2002, March, 25). A review of literature on Hispanic/Latino parent involvement in K-12 education. Retrieved from ERIC database (D469134). Retrieved from: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED469134.pdf

[13]Bireda, S. (October, 2009). A look at community schools. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.

 

Suggested Citation:

Child Trends. (2013). Parental involvement in schools. Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=parental-involvement-in-schools

 

Last updated: September 2013