Thursday, November 7, 2013


Like all seven correlates of Effective Schools Research (Lezotte & Snyder, 2011), the positive home-school relations correlate is deceptively simple to describe, but unusually complex to execute across the diverse student groups that comprise the typical school.  For example, when it comes to discipline, parents usually expect the school’s staff to treat their children as the parents would treat them at home.  In practice, the variability in parenting styles makes it nearly impossible for educators to know the types of action that individual parents prefer.  What is a teacher to do?

Reflecting upon the home-school correlate, Lezotte and Snyder (2011) believe the parent involvement is filled with paradox.  First, when the school has an open house, parents’ night or parent-teacher conferences, the parents whose children need such partnerships the least are usually among the first to come.  On the other hand, the parents whose children would benefit the most from a stronger home-school partnership often do not come at all.  Similarly, stay-at-home moms and dads can readily visit their children’s classroom during school hours, whereas parents who work outside the home are limited in their ability to visit school at such times.  These situations illustrate challenges educators encounter when seeking to build strong home-school relations, a necessary element in an effective school.  

Leaders of effective schools use a variety of strategies and provide many opportunities for parents and caregivers to be involved with their children’s schooling in order to create a strong partnership that makes student success more likely.  These leaders also recognize that the absence of desired parental support can not be used as an excuse to give up on those students.  Recognizing the importance of parent involvement in schooling, early Title I federal legislation in the United States established provisions for involving parents in their children’s learning.  No Child Left Behind took parent involvement a step further and specifically defined it as “the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities” (U.S. DoE, 2004).  Under this law, schools receiving Title I funding were required to adopt specific strategies for involving parents in their children’s schooling, including parents who traditionally had not participated with the schools due to cultural, language, socioeconomic, or other barriers. 

For example, schools and districts with large numbers of English language learners have been required to offer written school policies in the students’ home languages.  NCLB has made it clear that building the capacity of parents to be involved in their children’s education was a priority by requiring schools and districts to spend a significant portion of their Title I dollars on doing just that.  Such a school-parent compact exemplifies the importance attached to parent involvement in schools. 

While generalizations are always tricky, it is generally true that levels of parental support are stronger with elementary students (Sheldon & Van Voorhis, 2004).  As students’ progress to middle or high school, parental partnership in pursuit of the school mission is more difficult to achieve and maintain.  Schools with high concentrations of minority or low-income students, as well as those with a significant number of English language learners, also have lower levels of parental involvement, as well as lower educational expectations of their children (Lee & Bowen, 2006).  Many reasons account for the lack of parent involvement among these groups  Such parents may feel unwelcome because of their own educational experiences, feel culturally out of touch with the school staff, or have work schedules that prohibit active participation in school activities .  (Sanders, Allen-Jones, & Abel, 2002).  Because these parents struggle with their own educational deficits or difficulties with English, it is essential for schools to teach such parents about what to do to optimize the available help to promote their children’s learning. 



To Cite:

Anderson, C.J. (November 7, 2013) Improving parental partnership to optimize student learning.  [Web log post] 
               Retrieved from



 Lee, J., and Bowen, N., (2006). Parent involvement, cultural capital, and the achievement gap among elementary school

children. American Educational Research Journal, 43, 193-218

Lezotte, L. W. (1991) Correlates of Effective Schools: The First and Second Generation.

Lezotte, L. W., & Snyder, K. M. (2011). What effective schools do: Re-envisioning the correlates.  Bloomington, IN:

Solution Tree Press.
Sanders, M. G., Allen-Jones, G. L. And Abel, Y. (2002), Involving Families and Communities in the Education of  
            Children and Youth Placed At Risk. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, 101: 171–188.

doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7984.2002.tb00081.x

Sheldon, S.B., & Epstein, J.L. (2006) Getting students to school: using family and community involvement to reduce

chronic absenteeism. The School Community Journal Retrieved from:

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