What the Research Tells Us
Twenty years of scientific study show that parent and family involvement influences
children’s academic achievement. The research offers compelling reasons to focus on
improving parent involvement in our schools. Parent involvement is a key factor in school
improvement efforts. Collaboration with families and community members not only helps
to identify the challenges our schools face but helps to develop and implement creative
and satisfying solutions.
In a “New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections
on Student Achievement, Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp reviewed 51 studies and
concluded that these studies found:
“…a positive and convincing relationship between family involvement and benefits for
students, including improved academic achievement. This relationship holds across
families of all economic, racial/ethnic and educational backgrounds for students of all
Here’s what they report:
“Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s
learning at home are linked to improved student achievement.”
“The more families support their children’s learning
and educational progress, the more their
children tend to do well in school and
continue their education.”
“Families from all cultural backgrounds,
education and income levels can and often
do have a positive influence on children’s
Henderson and Mapp also found that when parents
are involved, children from all backgrounds tend to
Earn higher grades and test scores
Enroll in higher-level education programs
Be promoted and earn credits
Adapt well to school and attend regularly
Have better social skills and behavior
Graduate and go on to higher education.
In their book Beyond the Bake Sale, (Henderson,
Mapp, Johnson, Davis, 2007), the authors describe
the benefits of collaboration and parent involvement:
Partnership and student achievement are
Partnerships help build and sustain public support for
Families and the community can help schools overcome challenges they face.
Teachers can benefit from parent and community partnerships.
The PTA report, The Positive Relationship between Family Involvement and Student Success, sites research done by
Henderson and Mapp that points to four findings that schools can adopt.
The more parent involvement practices focus on student learning the more student learning improves.
Example: Provide family nights on reading, math or behavior programs.
Children whose parents speak up on their behalf are more confident at school.
Example: Families should have opportunities to learn about how the school
All families can contribute to their child’s success regardless of race,
ethnicity, class or level of education.
Example: Families can talk to their children about the importance of
Partnerships with community members, businesses and organizations can
improve learning opportunities.
Example: Establish a mentoring program between students and
What Research Says about the Reasons Parents Get Involved
Mainly three factors influence why parents get involved in their child’s education and
school. (Hoover-Dempsey, Walker, Sandler, Whetsel, Green, Wilkins, Closson,
Belief by a parent that he or she should be involved and that his or her
involvement will make a difference.
Parent’s perceptions of invitations to get involved, such as a general invite
from the school, welcoming environment, specific invitations from the child
Life style variables, such as the parent believing that he or she has the knowledge
and skills to help the child in school and the time and energy to do so.
The research and literature show that schools definitely influence parents’ decisions about their involvement. With this
knowledge, educators and administrators can develop quality parent involvement in their schools. You can create a
welcoming and inclusive environment that engages all parents in their child’s education, special education and in the
school as a whole. And right from the beginning, you can include parents in school-wide improvement efforts, such as
Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavior Supports (PBS). In return, parents will feel more confident in their
ability to support their child’s learning at home in a way that benefits students and educators.
Importance of Strong Leadership
To achieve a real and effective parent-professional collaboration model requires strong leadership. When school leaders
create conditions that foster collaborative relationships among school staff, families and community, the result can be a
cohesive partnership among all school stakeholders. These partnerships can garner family, school and community
resources to ensure that all students get the help they need to be successful.
Research identifies steps school administrators can take to support home, school, community partnerships
promote formal school and district level parent and community involvement policies
establish formal and informal communication processes to reach out to families and community groups in multiple
address cultural or linguistic barriers to involvement
create an environment that honors family and community member concerns and needs regarding student
(SEDL, Developing a Collaborative Team Approach to Support Family and Community Connections with Schools: What
Can School Leaders Do?, 2005)
Barriers to Parent Involvement
School staff should have opportunities to have their concerns and fears about parent involvement acknowledged and
addressed. A question to ask educators: What concerns you the most about changing the way parents participate in
their child’s education and in the school?
Barriers that prevent families from taking an active role in their child’s education and in the school should also be
identified and addressed. A question to ask families: What are the barriers that families experience? Here are some of
the barriers the prevent parents from getting involved.
not enough time
lack of confidence in their ability to contribute
lack of knowledge about how the school system works
lack of child care and/or transportation
not available during the school day
don’t feel welcome in the school.
© 2010-12 The Parent Information Center of NH
The NH Parents Make the Difference website is a collaboration between the Parent Information Center of NH and the
NH Department of Education.
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Watch This Video
New Directions for Family
Involvement in Middle and
From the 2010 NH Partnerships
for Education Conference..
Watch the Video
Watch as PIC Staff and Guests
discuss Parent Involvement in
Education Month in NH