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For decades, school board superintendents and school instructors have tried to pinpoint specific factors that contribute to student's academic success and literacy development. In an effort to find a solution to this question, some researchers and writers have taken the timeout from their own preliminary research to help school administrators investigate this issue. Even though several researchers in the past have published novels and journal articles on this topic, new case studies are still being conducted to examine the different variables that may help improve student's academic performance. In recent case studies, researchers have used developmental research and longitudinal analysis to demonstrate the significant impact that parental academic involvement has on student's academic achievement. Writers such as Nancy Hill, James Griffith, and Gail Zellman try to illustrate the relationship between student's academic performance and parents' level of education, parents' active participation at school, and different types of parental academic involvement. For example, Nancy Hill and Lorraine Taylor deduced that "parents' with fewer years of education, potentially harbor more negative experiences with schools, that they often feel ill equipped to question the teacher or school" (162). Although, Hill and Taylor make this conclusion, other authors have slightly different opinions and perceptions on parents' level of education. Thus it can be inferred that parents' level of education and level of participation may be significant to a student's academic outcome.
Parents' level of education. Research has shown that parents' level of education is an important predictor in determining students' educational outcome. It does not only interpret a student's level of academic attainment but also determines their educational aspirations. A study by Karen Bogenscheider empirically analyzes the effects that parents' level of education has on students' school success. Bogenscheider's findings affirm that "mothers and fathers with higher levels of education were significantly more involved in the schooling of their offspring than mothers and fathers with moderate or low levels of education" (724). She noted that parents with higher educational levels had time to help their child with their schoolwork; therefore, they earned higher test scores than children from low educated families. Although, Bogenscheider confirm that parents' with higher levels of education are more involved in their children's schooling, Michelle Englund, Amy E. Luckner, GloriaWhaley, and Byron Engeland state otherwise.
Englund et al. affirm that children from higher educated families do succeed academically but students from families with lower parental education levels had greater educational and career aspirations. In addition, Englund et al. mentions that students from low educated families tend to mimic their parents' education achievements because they do not understand the true value and benefits of an education. In conjunction, Nancy Hill and Lorraine Taylor assert that "parents from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face many more barriers to involvement, including nonflexible work schedules, lack of resources, transportation problems, and stress due to residing in disadvantage neighborhoods" (162). Thus, "low educated parents may not become involved in their children's schooling in ways that enhance or change school behavior or performance but their involvement may communicate their expectations for their adolescents' future success and upward mobility" (Hill et al.).
Although, Hill et al., Englund et al., and Bogenschneider concur that parents' with higher levels of education are more involved in their children's schooling, Englund, Hill and Taylor believe that there are several factors that can hinder parents' ability to be academically involved in their children's educational development. A gap in Hill et al. research was that psychological issues can affect a students' ability to learn therefore resulting in some students having higher test and course grades than others. Also behavioral problems can prevent some students for acquiring higher class grades.
Parents' active participation at school. Parents' active participation at school "may lead to an increase in the communicated value of education or change the way parents become involved at home and school" (163). For example, in the first chapter of the book, Family-school links, the parents of students in higher grade levels contacted the school more often than parents with children in lower grade levels. Rena Harold and Jacquelynne Eccles stated that the reason for this is "the heightened awareness of approaching adolescence also arouses a heightened sense of the seriousness of school and achievement, leading parents to seek new ways to help their children" (15). Harold and Eccles also state another probable explanation for the increase in parent communication is that parents may feel they are not receiving the same amount of information from the school as did when their children were in elementary school therefore "asking for more information to bring them back up to the level they had been accustomed to during the elementary school years" (15).
According to Nancy Hill and Lorraine Taylor parental academic involvement decreases as students proceed to junior high school because parents may feel that they cannot help their children with more advanced and intricate homework problems and because their children want more independence. Another aspect they pointed out was that parental school involvement decreased because parents that are employed have less time to actively participate in school events due to their hectic work schedules and other predicaments. Furthermore, Rena Harold and Jacquelynne Eccles stress that parental school involvement decreases as children get older, because junior high schools do not promote parent academic involvement. In contrast to Hill, Taylor, Harold, and Eccles definite assurance that parental support decreases as student move to higher grade levels, Timothy Keith as well as Patricia B. Keith, Kimberly J.Quirk, Jodi Sperduto, Stephanie Santillo, and Stacy Killings confirm that parents who are actively involved in their children's early educational development will continue to be involved throughout their academic career. In fact, parents who support and motivate their children throughout their educational development can influence their child to continue to pursue higher education.
For the most part, the researchers suggested that as student progress academically that the student's parents will either look for ways to help them with their schoolwork or stop participating in their educational development. Also parents' perception can cause a variance in how much parents participate in school related activities. A gap in the authors' research is that they didn't not state whether or not ethic and cultural backgrounds has an effect on parents' active participation at school.
Different types of parental academic involvement. There are many precursors such as volunteering at school, contacting school instructors, helping with homework assignments, and attending school meetings which can influence the academic outcome of a student. For instance, "a parent who volunteers in the classroom to learn about the teacher's expectations for students and a parent who volunteers in the classroom to monitor the teacher's behavior towards her child are both involved in the school, but only the latter parent is likely to create distrust that may impact the children's attitudes toward the school and the teacher" (163). Since Nancy Hill and Lorraine Taylor attest that parent volunteering can have an influence on students' academic decisions, other researchers have conducted case studies to test if they would obtain the same results. According to Gail Zellman and Jill Waterman "how parents interact with their children is more important in predicting child academic outcomes than the extent to which to which they are involved at school" (379).
In addition, a study by Monique Senechal and Jo-Anne Lefevre examined the impact that informal and formal literacy activities had on student's academic performance. Senechal and Lefevre acknowledge that informal activities such as "storybook reading was related to children's receptive language development, whereas formal activities such as parents' reports of teaching were related to children's early literacy skills" (456). ) Thus, Senechal and Lefevre concluded that reading to a child or teaching a child how to pronounce words was integral to the child's academic performance. Nevertheless, in his research, James Griffith concluded that he does not know if parental academic involvement "preceded or followed student performance" (40).
Beside Nancy Hill and Lorraine Taylor, all the other authors seem to believe that parental support has no significant impact on student educational outcomes. Furthermore, the authors' research reveals that parents can support and motivate a child do well in school, but ultimately the decision is left up to the child to decide if they want to achieve academic success.
The author's findings demonstrate that there are several subdivisions to parent academic involvement. Whether parents have high or low education levels, participate in their child's school events all the time or sometimes, these factors all have a significant influence in how parental academic involvement effects student's educational performance. Also parent academic involvement does not only incorporate a few school-related activities; activities such as volunteering at school, contacting school instructors, helping with homework assignments, and attending PTA meetings may or may not improve a child's academic outcome. Authors like Karen Bogenschneider, Timothy Keith, and Monique Sénéchal have attempt to explain the justications of these activities but there has been "lack of agreement about the definition and to measurement inconsisitencies, making it diffcult to compare findings across studies" (Hill and Taylor 163). For instance, Nancy Hill and Lorraine Taylor stated that parent volunteering can have an influence on students' academic decisions, whereas other authors state that "there is no consistent evidence that parent involvement has a significant influence on academic outcomes"(Griffith 36). Another challenge is whether a particular race is more involved than the other. Most researchers assert that African American parents are more involved in school-related activities at home whereas Caucasian parents are more involved at school than at home. Genuinely African American parents may not be less involved than Caucasian parents; instead the researchers' data might only take a particular district into account instead of analyzing the whole general population. There are a series of factors that affect parental academic involvement but understanding these barriers can help interpret the relationship between parent active participation and student's academic performance.
Bogenschneider, Karen. "Parental Involvement in Adolescent Schooling: A Proximal Process with Transcontextual Validity." Journal of Marriage and Family 59.3 (1997): 718-33. JSTOR. Web. 18. Oct. 2010.
Englund, Michelle M, Amy E. Luckner, GloriaWhaley, and Byron Engeland."Children's Achievement in Early Elementary School: Longitudinal Effects of Parental Involvement, Expectations, and Quality of Assistance." Journal of Educational Psychology 96.4 (2004): 723-30. JSTOR. Web. 16 Oct. 2010.
Griffith, James. "Relation of Parental Involvement, Empowerment, and School Traits to Student Academic Performance." The Journal of Educational Research 90.1 (2010): 33-41. JSTOR. Web. 16 Oct. 2010.
Harold, Rena D., Jacquelynne Eccles, Alan Booth, and Judy Dunn. Family Involvement in Children's and Adolescents' Schooling. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 1996. Print.
Hill, Nancy, Domini R.Castellino, Jennifer E.Lansford, Patrick Nowlin, Kenneth A. Dodge, John E. Bates, and Gregory S.Pettit. "Parent Academic Involvement as Related to School Behavior, Achievement, and Aspirations: Demographic Variations across Adolescence." Child Development 75.5 (2004): 1491-09. JSTOR. Web. 11 Oct. 2010.
Hill, Nancy, and Lorraine Taylor. "Parental School Involvement and Children's Academic Achievement: Pragmatic and Issues." Current Directions in Psychological Science 13.4 (2004): 161-164. JSTOR. Web. 19 Oct. 2010.
Keith, Timothy Z., Patricia B. Keith, Kimberly J.Quirk, Jodi Sperduto, Stephanie Santillo, and Stacy Killings. "Longitudinal Effects of Parent Involvement on High School Grades: Similarities and Differences Across Gender and Ethnic Groups." Journal of School Psychology 36.3 (1998): 335-63. JSTOR. Web. 13 Oct. 2010.
Sénéchal, Monique, and Jo-Anne LeFevre. "Parental Involvement in the Development of Children's Reading Skill: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study." Child Development 73.2 (2003): 445-60. JSTOR. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.
Zellman, Gail, and Jill Waterman."Understanding the Impact of Parent School Involvement on Children's Educational Outcomes." The Journal of Educational Research 91.6 (1998): 370-80. JSTOR. Web. 11 Oct. 2010.