Schools Provide Interpreters for Parent-Teacher Conferences & Meetings for 81 Percent of Low-Income Children of Non-English Speaking Parents

Washington, DC –According to Child Trends’ latest DataBank indicator, School Communication in Parents’ Native Language, schools are providing interpreters at parent-teacher meetings and other school-related meetings for 81 percent of kindergarten through third grade children, at or below the poverty line, whose parents speak a language other than English. In addition, schools are providing these parents with translated school memos and newsletters.  This type of assistance is much lower – 49 percent – for their wealthier peers.

Research has shown that parental involvement can lead to improved academic performance and positive school outcomes for children. It also enables teachers to identify learning problems at an earlier age, thereby being able to intervene earlier. To reach all parents, there is a need for schools to develop culturally sensitive and diverse outreach strategies, thus providing better outcomes opportunities for children.

Other findings from School Communication in Parents’ Native Language include:

¨       Race and Ethnicity – Hispanic children were the most likely to attend schools that provided both interpreters and received translated memos and newsletters. In 2003, among those children whose parents’ native language was not English, 78 percent of Hispanic children attended schools where they received both services, compared with 17 percent of non-Hispanic white children and 19 percent of Asian or Pacific Islander children.

¨       Parental Education – Among children whose parents spoke a language other than English and had a bachelors degree or more were the least likely to attend schools that provided interpreters and translated memos.

¨       Type of School – Among K-3 children, whose parents spoke a language other than English, those attending public schools were more likely to receive interpreters and translated memos.

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About Child Trends – Child Trends is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center serving those dedicated to creating better lives for children and youth.

About FCD – The Foundation for Child Development (FCD) supported this work.  FCD is a national, private philanthropy dedicated to the principle that all families should have the social and material resources to raise their children to be healthy, educated and productive members of their communities.