Why should teachers and principals invest in parent engagement?

Why should teachers and principals invest in parent engagement? | A high school student gives a thumbs up after receiving an A+ on a paper.

By Jessica Vician

Parent engagement programs, like the YOU Program, have the potential to decrease per-pupil spending, boost student achievement and graduation rates, and build better student-teacher relationships. With numerous research, studies, and analyses reporting these positive correlations, schools should invest in parent engagement programs right away to reap these benefits.

1. An increase in parent engagement leads to higher student achievement.
This correlation between strong parent engagement and higher student achievement is relevant in grades, standardized test scores, and even teacher ratings, according to a meta-analysis written by William H. Jeynes and published in the Harvard Family Research Project’s Family Involvement Research Digests.

The analysis goes on to say that in school populations where there isn’t a strong culture of parent engagement, parent engagement programs can significantly help student achievement by teaching parents how to engage with their children at home, which in turn will help those students succeed in school.

2. Parent engagement leads to higher student test scores, better attendance rates, and higher graduation rates.
The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory’s 2002 report, A New Wave of Evidence, delivers an analysis of parent involvement research conducted over a decade to learn how schools can benefit from this engagement.

According to the report, these higher test scores, attendance rates, and graduation rates result from parents setting academic expectations for their children and having opportunities to discuss questions and concerns with school staff, teachers, and administrators when needed.

Teachers who engage parents in their children’s classroom education reported better student scores in science and writing. Additionally, students whose parents participate at the school or advocate for their educational needs tend to perform better.

3. Strong parent engagement leads to better student-teacher relationships.
Past and current studies have shown that involved parents nurture a child’s social, emotional, and academic needs. Due to that nurture the child receives, he or she is more likely to have a better relationship with his or her teacher and therefore perform better in the classroom and on tests.

If the school offers a parent engagement program to teach parents how to support those needs, it not only helps the parents and the children, but it helps the teachers perform better and results in higher student achievement levels.

4. Parents of high school students don’t participate or engage as much as those of K–8 students.
While 92 percent of K–8 parents attended a PTA or PTO meeting, only 83 percent of high school parents did the same. And when it came to volunteering, the difference was even worse: 52 percent of K–8 parents volunteered in some capacity with the school but only 34 percent of high school parents did, according to a 2007 NCES Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey.

The significant decrease in parent engagement between K–8 and high school suggests a strong need for parent engagement programs in middle and high schools to teach parents skills and tools they can use to remain engaged as their children become teenagers.

5. Build a sustainable parent engagement program to save money in the future while boosting student achievement now.
A 2008 study from the University of New Hampshire noted that the benefits of effective parent engagement are so significant that schools would need to “increase per-pupil spending by more than $1,000 in order to achieve the same results that are gained with parental involvement,” according to Researcher Karen Smith Conway.

If your school has more than 10 students in it, a $10,000 upfront investment in a parent engagement program that trains parents and staff to implement future engagement efforts, parent meetings, and trainings (therefore a sustainable parent engagement program), would pay for itself in under a year. And that cost is covered by Title I funding that is specifically reserved for parental involvement.

Countless studies have proven the same results: parent engagement is critical to student and school achievement. Sustainable parent engagement programs teach parents, teachers, coaches, administrators, and staff how to implement a realistic and effective plan that can support itself in future years for less money than increasing per-pupil spending each year.

If you are looking for higher student achievement; happier teachers; better student-teacher relationships, attendance and graduation rates; and parent engagement that continues through high school graduation, then your school must invest in a parent engagement program.

The YOU Program can help your school and/or district achieve all of these accomplishments through parent workshops, training workshops, teacher trainings, administrator trainings, parent leadership training workshops, and expert support. Contact us to partner for your success.