Indicators of Child, Family, and Community Connections:

School Involvement and Civic Engagement

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Parental involvement in school

In 1999, ninety-two percent of students had parents who were involved in at least one of four types of activities in their children's school: attending general meetings, attending scheduled meetings with a teacher, attending a school event, or acting as a volunteer or serving on a committee. The majority of students had parents who attended meetings or events in all three school levels, but only a minority of students in all levels had parents who volunteered or served on a committee. Parents were most likely to attend meetings and events or to volunteer in their child's school when their children were in kindergarten through 5th grade (96 percent), and participation rates were somewhat lower among parents of children in middle school (92 percent) and in high school (83 percent).

Percentage of students in grades K through 12
whose parents reported involvement in their child's school,
by activity type and school level: 1999

Percentage of students in grades K through 12 whose parents reported involvement in their child's school, by activity type and school level: 1999. See text for explanation.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education/Civic Involvement Survey (PFI/CI:1996) and Parent Survey (Parent:1999) of the National Household Education Surveys Program, 1996 & 1999 and the Child Trends Databank. (2003). (www.childtrendsdatabank.org/indicators/39parentalinvolvementinschools.cfm)

Table 13.
Percentage of students in grades K through 12
whose parents report involvement(a) in their child's school,
by selected characteristics: 1996 & 1999
  Attended general meeting Attended scheduled meeting with teacher Attended school event Acted as a volunteer or served on a committee Indicated involvement in any of the four activities
  1996 1999 1996 1999 1996 1999 1996 1999 1996 1999
Total 76.9 78.3 71.8 72.8 66.7 65.4 38.7 36.8 91.7 91.5
Student's Grade
  K-5 83.2 84.6 86.1 87.5 71.7 70.4 48.9 47.6 96.2 96.3
  6-8 77.9 79.6 69.5 70.4 65.7 65.7 30.4 29.1 91.5 92.1
  9-12 65.4 67.3 49.7 51.3 59.1 57.3 28.4 25.6 84.2 83.4
Race and Hispanic Origin(b)
   White, non-Hispanic 79.0 80.5 72.6 73.6 71.6 71.6 44.1 42.7 93.5 93.8
   Black, non-Hispanic 71.6 74.6 68.8 71.1 56.4 53.8 26.9 26.2 86.4 87.0
   Other 73.2 76.6 71.6 73.1 64.2 62.3 35.4 30.6 89.9 90.3
Parents' Highest Level of Education
  Less than high school 57.5 57.3 62.7 59.9 42.2 37.7 16.9 13.0 79.1 75.9
  High school graduate or equivalent 71.5 72.7 69.2 69.7 60.2 58.7 30.1 26.0 89.3 88.4
  Some college(c) 77.9 79.1 72.5 73.7 69.2 66.9 39.2 37.4 92.9 93.1
  College graduate 87.4 87.3 77.4 80.3 76.4 75.6 52.3 49.8 96.8 97.1
  Graduate or professional school 88.5 88.9 76.3 76.0 81.9 78.9 56.7 54.3 97.2 96.8
a. Parental involvement in school is defined as parent participation during the school year in any of the above activities at least once.
b. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
c. Some college includes a vocational or technical school after high school, as well as college attendance.
Note: Ungraded students or children who are homeschooled are not included in this analysis; these students accounted for 1.6 percent of the students in grades K-12. Percentages may not sum to 100 because parents can be included in more than one type of involvement.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education/Civic Involvement Survey (PFI/CI:1996) and Parent Survey (Parent:1999) of the National Household Education Surveys Program, 1996 & 1999 and the Child Trends Databank. (2003). (www.childtrendsdatabank.org/indicators/39parentalinvolvementinschools.cfm)

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Volunteering as a family

Overall, 37 percent of adults volunteered with family members in 2001. Approximately 39 percent of whites volunteered with family members, while 34 percent of blacks and 29 percent of Hispanics did so. Volunteering is defined here as actually working in some way to help others, and not just belonging to a service organization. Volunteerism can be performed in an organized group, or individually for children, neighbors, friends, or even strangers.

Percentage of adults who volunteered with family members in the past year,
by race and Hispanic origin: 2001

Percentage of adults who volunteered with family members in the past year, by race and Hispanic origin: 2001. See text for explanation.

Note: Estimates for whites and blacks includes Hispanics.
Source: Estimates supplied by C. Toppe, Independent Sector, based on data from the 2001 Giving and Volunteering in the United States Survey.

Table 14a.
Percentage of adults who volunteered with family members in the past year,
by race and Hispanic origin: 2001
  Percent
Total 37.2
Race and Hispanic Origin(a)  
  White 38.6
  Black 34.1
  Hispanic 29.4
a. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Estimates for blacks and whites include Hispanics.
Source: Estimates supplied by C. Toppe, Independent Sector, based on data from the 2001 Giving and Volunteering in the United States Survey.

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Student participation in community service

In 1999, fifty-two percent of students in grades 6-12 participated in community service. Those who spoke English in the home were more likely (54 percent) than those who spoke another language in the home (34 percent) to participate in community service. Participation increased slightly between 1996 and 1999 in general, and was substantially higher among students with college-educated parents in both years.

Percentage of students in grades 6-12 participating in community service,
by language spoken in the home: 1996 & 1999

Percentage of students in grades 6-12 participating in community service, by language spoken in the home: 1996 & 1999. See text for explanation.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Youth Civic Involvement Survey of the National Household Education Surveys (NHES) Program, 1996, and the Youth Survey of the NHES Program, 1999. As reported in National Center for Education Statistics. (1999). Youth service-learning and community service among 6(th)-12(th) grade students in the United States: 1996 and 1999. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Table 14b.
Percentage of students in grades 6 through 12 participating in community service,
by selected characteristics: 1996 & 1999
  1996 1999
Total 49 52
Student's Grade
  6-8 47 48
  9-10 45 50
  11-12 56 61
Language Spoken Most at Home by Student
  English 50 54
  Other 32 34
Parents' Highest Level of Education
  Less than high school 34 37
  High school graduate or equivalent 42 45
  Some college(a) 48 50
  College graduate 58 62
  Graduate or professional school 64 65
a. Some college includes those who attended a vocational or technical training school after high school, as well as college attendance.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Youth Civic Involvement Survey of the National Household Education Surveys (NHES) Program, 1996 and the Youth Survey of the NHES Program, 1999. As reported in National Center for Education Statistics. (1999). Youth service-learning and community service among 6th-12th grade students in the United States: 1996 and 1999. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

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Parental voting

Among eligible voters, 60 percent of parents with their own children in the household voted in the last presidential election in 2000.

Voting is much more common among parents with higher levels of education than it is among parents with less education. Eighty percent of parents with at least a college degree reported voting in the 2000 election, compared with 64 percent of those with some college education, 49 percent of those with high school diplomas, and 28 percent of parents with less than a high school degree.

Voting behavior among parents also varies by age, with older parents more likely than younger parents to report voting in the last election. In 2000, seventy percent of parents ages 50 and over reported voting in the November election, compared with 65 percent of those ages 31-49, forty-six percent of those ages 26-30, and 33 percent of parents ages 18-25.

Married parents are more likely to vote than unmarried parents (64 percent and 45 percent, respectively).

Percentage of parents(a) with children under 18 in the household who voted in the last election,
by educational attainment: 2000

Percentage of parents<SUP>(a)</SUP> with children under 18 in the household who voted in the last election, by educational attainment: 2000. See text for explanation.

a. Parents include householders and spouses with own children under 18 in the household; therefore, this indicator includes data on all parents in the family.
Note: Analysis includes only eligible voters (those who were at least 18 years of age and citizens).
Source: Child Trends' analyses of November 2000 Current Population Survey data

Table 15.
Percentage of parents(a) with children under 18 in the household who voted in the last election,
by selected characteristics: 2000
  Percent
All Parents 60.3
Highest Level of Education
  Less than high school 28.3
  High school diploma or GED 49.5
  Some education after high school 63.9
  College graduate 80.4
Age of Parent
  18-25 years 33.2
  26-30 years 45.9
  31-49 years 64.8
  50 years and over 69.9
Immigrant Status
  Native-born 61.3
  Foreign-born 46.2
Martial Status
  Married (spouse present) 64.0
  Unmarried (or married with spouse absent) 44.9
a. Parents include householders and spouses with own children under 18 living in the household.
Note: Analysis includes only eligible voters (those who were at least 18 years of age and citizens).
Source: Child Trends' analyses of November 2000 Current Population Survey data.

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Youth connection to school peers

Overall, 56 percent of youth felt connected to peers in their school in the 1995-96 school year. Approximately 60 percent of students attending middle or mixed(a) schools reported feeling connected to peers in their school, and 54 percent of high school students reported feelings of connection. This difference in reported rates of connection to peers by school level is not statistically significant.

Percentage of youth who feel connected to peers in their school,
by level of school: 1995-1996

Percentage of youth who feel connected to peers in their school, by level of school: 1995-1996. See text for explanation.

a. A mixed school contains both middle and high school grade levels.
Source: Child Trends' analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave 1, 1995-1996.

Table 16a.
Percentage of youth(a) who feel connected to peers in their school,
by selected characteristics:(b) 1995-1996
  Percent
Total 56.3
Gender
  Male 57.7
  Female 54.8
Immigrant Status(c)
  Native-born 56.5
  Foreign-born 53.6
School Level(d)
  Middle school 59.4
  Mixed 60.4
  High school 53.8
a. Youth in grades 7-12.
b. Perceptions of connectedness to peers are based on a three-item scale that includes measures of whether students feel close to people at school, feel part of their school, and feel happy at their school.
c. Native-born includes U.S. citizens born in foreign countries.
d. A middle school ends at or before the 9th grade. A high school begins at or after the 9th grade. A mixed school contains both middle and high school grade levels.
Source: Child Trends' analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave 1, 1995-1996.

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School supportiveness

In the 1995-96 school year, 47 percent of youth in grades 7-12 perceived their school to be supportive. Foreign-born youth were more likely than native-born youth to feel that their school environment was supportive. Fifty-nine percent of foreign-born teens viewed their school as supportive, compared with 47 percent of native-born teens. Racial and ethnic differences in students' perceptions of their school environments reflect this same pattern. Specifically, Hispanic teens, who are more likely to be foreign-born, reported slightly higher levels of school supportiveness (52 percent) than non-Hispanic whites (48 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (45 percent), Native Americans (38 percent), or teens of other races (39 percent).

Percentage of youth who perceive their school to be supportive,
by immigrant status: 1995-1996

Percentage of youth who perceive their school to be supportive, by immigrant status: 1995-1996. See text for explanation.

Source: Child Trends' analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave 1, 1995-1996.

Table 16b.
Percentage of youth(a) who perceive their school to be supportive,
by selected characteristics:(b) 1995-1996
  Percent
Total 47.5
Race and Hispanic Origin(c)
  White, non-Hispanic 48.0
  Black, non-Hispanic 44.6
  Hispanic 51.8
  Asian 49.2
  Native American 37.8
  Other, non-Hispanic 39.4
Immigrant Status(d)
  Native-born 46.9
  Foreign-born 59.0
Type of School(e)
  Middle school 51.5
  Mixed 51.8
  High school 43.8
a. Youth in grades 7-12.
b. Perceptions of school supportiveness are based on a three-item scale including whether students have trouble getting along with teachers (reverse coded), feel like teachers treat students fairly, and feel that teachers care about them.
c. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race
d. Native-born includes U.S. citizens born in foreign countries
e. A middle school ends at or before the 9th grade. A high school begins at or after the 9th grade. A mixed school contains both middle and high school grade levels.
Source: Child Trends' analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave 1, 1995-1996


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