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Child&YouthPolicyAnalysisParentEngagement

Child&YouthPolicyAnalysisParentEngagement

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Published by Susie Cambria
This policy analysis designed to inform the discussion about improving parent engagement in their children’s education. We will present information on the following:
* The current status of parent engagement in DC Public Schools;
* The barriers to parent engagement in their children’s education;
* Best practices related to increasing parent engagement in their children’s education and in schools; and
* Recommendations for the District of Columbia.
This policy analysis designed to inform the discussion about improving parent engagement in their children’s education. We will present information on the following:
* The current status of parent engagement in DC Public Schools;
* The barriers to parent engagement in their children’s education;
* Best practices related to increasing parent engagement in their children’s education and in schools; and
* Recommendations for the District of Columbia.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Susie Cambria on Jan 06, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/09/2014

 
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The research is clear: powerful benefitsaccrue to children, families, schools, andcommunities when parents are engaged intheir children's education.
Currently, local efforts to improve educationaloutcomes of students in DC Public Schools are largelyfocused in the classroom. Parent engagement canhelp schools realize that goal. That is why the DCPublic Schools (DCPS) Office of CommunityEngagement and the Office of the StateSuperintendent of Education (OSSE) are addressingthe issue.For many, however, the situation is not improvingquickly enough.This analysis is designed to inform the discussionabout improving parent engagement in theirchildren’s education. We will present information onthe following:
The current status of parent engagement in DCPublic Schools;
The barriers to parent engagement in theirchildren’s education;
Best practices related to increasing parent en-gagement in their children’s education and inschools; and
Recommendations for the District of Columbia.
The current status of parentengagement in DC Public Schools
We have been unable to obtain data on parentengagement in DC Public Schools. By contrast, thereis a tremendous amount of anecdotal evidencesuggesting that parent engagement in theirchildren’s school is poor. Consider, for example,comments from community members at theChancellor’s Community Forums. These echocomments during the public consideration of Mayor Fenty's education reform legislation in2007. Comments include:
"There is no PTA and a lack of interest ingetting involved. I looked around tonight andthere were very few parents. There were onlysix teachers in attendance. We say we want toengage the community. But, when you lookaround you see the community isn’t in theroom.
"1
"There is not a lot of parent involvement andnot that many parents here tonight.
What arewe doing to increase parental involvement,especially with regards to immigrant parents?
Not everyone is going to go on website.
"2
Increasing parental participation in education in DC
A: C) Family involvement
“…the most accurate predictor of a student’sachievement in school is not income or socialstatus, but the extent to which thatstudent’s familycreates a home environment that encour-ages learningexpresses high expectations for theirchildren’s achievement and future careersbecomes involved in their children’s educa-tion at school and in the community.”
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Q:What is the most accuratepredictor of a student’sachievement in school?
A) Social statusB) IncomeC) Family involvement
children & youth
public policy analysis
 
children & youth public policy analysis:
Increasing parental participation in education in DC
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These comments demonstrate a frustration withthe seeming lack of commitment of parents tothe education of their children. Absent anassessment of actual engagement andengagement opportunities, however, it isirresponsible to extrapolate fact from anecdotessuch as these.
It is particularly irresponsible tomake public policy decisions on anecdoteswhen we can collect and use data
and whenwe consider comments like this one:"A lot of parents now are working parents.Parents do not have time to do that or havetime to meet just to meet. Woodson hasCollege Access Expo
 
program, which has goodresources and is useful for parents. It is amistake to assume parents are not involvedjust because they don’t come to meetings."
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Barriers to parent engagement intheir children’s education
Research is rife with reasons for parental disen-gagement from their children’s education:Poor parental literacy.Bad personal educational experiences may leadparents to avoid their children's educational andschool needs.Work constraints.Lack of child care.Transportation.Disabilities.Personal or familial health issues.Uncertainty how to engage and be engaged.Language.
Benefits for parents:
More confidence in the schoolHigher teacher expectations of theirchildrenHigher teacher opinions of them as par-entsMore self-confidenceMore likely to continue their own educa-tion
Benefits for schools:
Improves teacher moraleHigher ratings of teachers by parentsMore support from familiesHigher student achievementBetter reputations in the community
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Summary of the research:Parental engagement benefitsfor parents and schools
Poor parental literacy:
Approximately 37 percent of the 170,000 Districtresidents age 16 and older operate at the lowestdefined level of literacy, or “below basic.”Functioning at the “below basic” level equates tohaving difficulty finding an intersection on astreet map, filling out a Social Security cardapplication, or adding up the total costs of purchases on a retail store receipt.
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Work constraints:
Perhaps the most obvious constraint is workingfor an hourly wage. These employees aresignficantly less able to take the time they needto attend to their children's educational needs. Asimilar constraint is shift work. There arethousands of shift workers in the District andmany of them are District governmentemployees (think police, firefighters and EMTs/paramedics). Their work schedule limits, if notprohibits, their participation in school activities.These constraints, then, effect more than low-wage workers.
Disabilities:
In the District, just under 10 percent of residents report having a disability in 2007.This means, of the 404,199 residents, 45,837have a disability.
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Certainly, no one is suggestingthat anyone who has a disability is disengaged;rather, having a disability presents a barrier toengagement.
Details about parental barriers toengagement
 
children & youth public policy analysis:
Increasing parental participation in education in DC
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s
tudiesconductedover the past few decadeshave confirmed what isimplicitly known: parentalinvolvement in a child’sdevelopment andeducation accelerates hisor her progress andincreases the child’schances for success laterin life. A report sponsoredby the U.S. Department of Education found that, “theresearch overwhelminglydemonstrates that parentinvolvement in children’slearning is positivelyrelated to achievement.Further, the researchshows that the moreintensively parents areinvolved in theirchildren’s learning, themore beneficial are theachievement effects.”Furthermore, children“have more positiveschool attitudes, higheraspirations, and otherpositive behaviors if theyhave parents who areaware, knowledgeable,encouraging, andinvolved.”
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Collaboration of CBO-School-Law EnforcementOngoing parent engagement and monthly family dinnersCase management and home visitsServices in schools with community-based organizaion staff Mental health services as neededAfter school and summer programmingEvidence based outcomes: reduced drug/tobacco use, reducedviolence, improved attendance, improved achievement and en-gagement of students and parents, reduction in gang involvementand juvenile delinquency
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CASASTART,an example of the Family Service ModelThe research on parent engagement – its value anddemonstrated ways to increase engagement
It bears repeating that the benefits of parent engagement in theirchildren’s education accrue to children, families, schools, andcommunities. Of import to this analysis are the benefits accruing tostudents. The research has shown that with parental support, students:earn higher grades and test scores and enroll in higher level classes.have better social skills including improved behavior.attend school regularly.graduate and go on to higher learning opportunities.
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Experts on this issue tell us that children from all races and socio-economiclevels benefit from their parent's engagement. This is important sincewhat we have learned over the years is that engagement in the District islacking across race, socio-economic status, language, and education level.Researchers have developed categories of parent involvement for Grades 8to 12, though similar types exist for the earlier grades. The types are:Parenting, communicating, supporting school, learning at home, decisionmaking, and collaborating with community.
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Particularly interesting is the work that differentiated between thebenefits of active and passive parent participation. A 1999 study byRebecca Marcon, Ph.D. found Head Start children with more active andengaged parents had better outcomes on a rating scale of social and otherskills.
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The District would be wise to use the Marcon research to craft themost beneficial models for parent participation.The National Center for School Engagement (NCSE) is a widely recognizedleader on the issues of school attendance, attachment, and achievement.It has generated a wealth of research-based resources for school districtsas well as law enforcement agencies and others. Their synthesis of the

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