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New report shows parent involvement leads to better behavior, better grades

March 2, 2014

Photo by Leonardo Augusto Matsuda / Creative Commons

Image Credit: Photo by Leonardo Augusto Matsuda / Creative Commons

We are bringing government closer to the people, to the classroom where real decisions are made and directing the money where the need and the challenge is greatest

Gov. Jerry Brown

California Governor

Active involvement in your child’s education does more than just better the grade. A new report out by EdSource shows that parental involvement can lead to positive academic outcomes and better student behavior.

EdSource, an organization that focuses on education information, research and analysis, in collaboration with New America Media, in February conducted a review of the mounting research on the value and impact of parent engagement on their children’s performance.

The report titled ‘The Power of Parents: Research underscores the impact of parent involvement in schools,’ found that parent involvement contributes to a host of positive impacts for students.

It betters communication between teachers and parents, leading to on-task performance with homework, better attitudes about school in general and an increase in class participation.

The report also found that a decrease in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse and violence as parent participation increased. Homework completion rates were higher too, according to the report.

Why the study?

EdSource and NAM chose to study this concept after California Gov. Jerry Brown last year adopted new school funding regulations that require parent involvement in the decisions made as to how the money is spent on low-income students, foster youth and English Language Learners.

Brown called the new Local Control Funding method truly revolutionary.

“We are bringing government closer to the people, to the classroom where real decisions are made and directing the money where the need and the challenge is greatest,” he said.

Schools will now be assessed as to how successful they are in working with parents. The state has identified parent involvement as one of its eight priority areas.

How can I get involved?

If you’re a parent and you want to get involved, all you have to do is attend meetings and speak up.

Under the new law, every school district must hold meetings and solicit input from a district-wide parental advisory committee and, if able, from an English language learner parental advisory group.

Districts will need to show that changes have been made to their proposed funding plans based upon parent suggestions and also show how those changes improved student outcomes.

Each district will devise its own performance goals for parental involvement by July 2014, and every school is already required by law to establish its own parental input program (PTA or otherwise).

In January, California issued guidelines to ensure that parental involvement goals are met. The state requires districts to file annual reports to measure the type and quality of parent involvement.

However, the Local Control Funding Formula provisions are new so the process of school accountability may be revised if parental involvement goals aren’t being met or aren’t well documented.  All districts will also be required to work closely with community members to gain area input as well.

Have your voice heard

Your voice is needed when it comes to the spending of special needs funding, but there are other ways to get involved that have positive benefits to your child’s experience.

Your school’s Parent-Teacher Association could transform your child’s educational experience, whether your child has special needs or not.

Schools with involved parents have lower incidences of alcohol abuse and better parent teacher communications according to the EdSource report.

And while it may be challenging to attend school meetings, studies show that when parents make the effort, children do as well.

“I believe PTA benefits from the diverse assets that each individual brings and shares — sometimes overlooked, seldom trumpeted, but absolutely an essential driver of who we are and what we can accomplish,” wrote California PTA President Coleen You in a statement.

“Advocacy, both local and statewide, is informed and strengthened our diverse assets, and remains our powerful bedrock and mission; it lends to our credibility, and ensures the collective voice for children is not silenced,” she wrote.

According to EdSource, You recommended parents get involved in creating the guidelines schools will use to measure successful parent participation. She said schools needed to clearly communicate with parents regarding opportunities to provide public or written comments on their policies as well.

The first step

It’s an exciting time for California parents with an unprecedented opportunity to become involved in the budgetary issues of their schools. While it remains to be seen if schools do well at reaching out, parents may also decide to take the first step. If your school doesn’t have an active PTA, this may be the time to create one.