Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. EA 3.2 Parental involvement in child's school

04/01/1997

Many educators consider parental involvement in school activities to have a beneficial effect on childrens school performance. They associate higher levels of parental involvement with greater monitoring of school and classroom activities, a closer coordination of teacher and parent efforts, greater teacher attention to the child, and earlier identification of problems that might inhibit learning.34

Differences by Childrens Grade Level. Figure EA 3.2 presents national estimates for 1996 on the degree of parental school participation among parents of children in grades 35, 68, and 912. Possible activities include: 1) attending general school meetings (e.g., a PTA meeting or back-to-school night); 2) going to a regularly scheduled parentteacher conference; 3) attending a school or class event such as a play or sports event; and 4) volunteering at the school or serving on a school committee.35 As the figure indicates, the level of parental involvement in school activities decreases substantially as children get older. For example:
 

  • Thirty-nine percent of children in grades 35 had parents who were classified as highly involved in their childrens schools, meaning that they had been involved in three or more types of activities described above during the school year.
     
  • Children in grades 68 and 912 had parents with substantially lower involvement levels, with 24 and 22 percent, respectively, classified as highly involved.
     
  • Nearly one half of children in grades 912 had parents who were classified as having a low level of involvement, defined as having participated in one or no school activities.

Differences by Gender. Among some age groups, girls were more likely than boys to have parents with high or moderate levels of involvement. For example, among children in grades 68, girls were more likely than boys to have parents with high levels of involvement, and in grades 912, girls were more likely to have parents with moderate involvement levels. Alternatively, boys were more likely to have parents with low involvement levels in grades 68 and 912 (see Table EA 3.2).

Differences by Race and Ethnicity.36 White children had parents who were more likely than parents of black or Hispanic children to be highly involved in their schools at each grade level (see Table EA 3.2).

Differences by Family Type. Children in two-parent families were more likely to have parents who were highly involved than children in families with one or no parent. For example, among students in grades 35, 43 percent of children with two parents had parents who were highly involved in their schools, compared to 29 percent of children with one or no parent (see Table EA 3.2).

Differences by Socioeconomic Status. Children with non-poor parents (above the poverty threshold) were much more likely to have highly involved parents than children with poor parents (at or below the poverty threshold), for all grade levels. Children whose mothers had higher levels of education had more highly involved parents than children whose mothers had lower education levels, at all grades (see Table EA 3.2).

Differences by Mother's Employment Status. Among children in grades 35 and 912, those whose mothers worked part time (less than 35 hours per week) had more involved parents than children whose mothers either worked full time (35 hours or more per week) or were not in the labor force. For instance, of children in grades 35, 56 percent of children whose mothers worked part time were classified as highly involved, compared to 33 percent of children whose mothers worked full time, and 36 percent of children whose mothers were not in the labor force (see Table EA 3.2).
 

Figure EA 3.2  
Degree of Parental Involvement in Child's School Activities: 1996  

EA3_2.GIF

Note:
Low involvement = involvement in 0 or 1 activities
Moderate involvement = involvement in 2 activities
High involvement = involvement in 3 or more activities

Possible activities include 1) attending general school meetings; 2) going to a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference; 3) attending school or class event; and 4) volunteering in the school or serving on a school committee.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1996 National Household Education Survey (NHES:96).
 
 

Table EA 3.2 
Percentage of Parents Who Have Been Involved in their Child's School Activities, by Level of Involvement, Grade, and Family Characteristics: 1996 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Low Involvement 
 
Moderate Involvement 
 
High Involvement 
 
 
 
 
Grades 
Grades 
Grades 
Grades 
Grades 
Grades 
Grades 
Grades 
Grades 
 
 
 
3 to 5 
6 to 8 
9 to 12 
3 to 5 
6 to 8 
9 to 12 
3 to 5 
6 to 8 
9 to 12 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TOTAL
26 
37 
48 
36 
39 
31 
39 
24 
22 
 
Gender
 
 
Male
27 
40 
50 
35 
38 
29 
38 
22 
22 
 
 
Female
24 
34 
46 
36 
39 
33 
40 
27 
22 
 
Race/Ethnicity
 
 
White non-Hispanic
21 
31 
43 
36 
41 
32 
44 
28 
25 
 
 
Black non-Hispanic
37 
52 
60 
36 
31 
27 
27 
17 
14 
 
 
Hispanic
36 
49 
61 
36 
36 
26 
29 
16 
14 
 
Poverty Statusb
 
 
Non-poor
21 
31 
44 
35 
41 
31 
44 
28 
25 
 
 
Poor
39 
55 
64 
37 
31 
27 
24 
14 
10 
 
Family Type
 
 
Two parents
22 
32 
43 
35 
40 
32 
43 
28 
25 
 
 
One or no parent
35 
47 
59 
36 
36 
27 
29 
17 
13 
 
Mother's Educationc
 
 
Less than HS
52 
64 
74 
32 
29 
21 
16 
 
 
High School/GED
29 
43 
54 
38 
37 
28 
34 
20 
17 
 
 
Vocational/technical
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
or some college
21 
30 
43 
36 
42 
34 
43 
28 
23 
 
 
College graduate
11 
19 
27 
33 
42 
36 
56 
39 
37 
 
Mother's Employment Status
 
 
³ 35 hours per week
28 
37 
46 
39 
40 
24 
33 
31 
23 
 
 
< 35 hours per week
16 
30 
42 
28 
37 
34 
56 
31 
27 
 
 
Not in labor force
29 
42 
54 
35 
37 
21 
36 
30 
16 
 
Note:  aLow involvement = involvement in 0 or 1 activities  
Moderate involvement = involvement in 2 activities  
High involvement = involvement in 3 or more activities 
  
  
Possible activities include 1) attending general school meetings; 2) going to a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference; 3) attending school or class event; and 4) volunteering in the school or serving on a school committee.  

bChildren were classified as non-poor (living above the poverty threshold) or poor (living at-or-below the poverty threshold), based on family size and income. For more information about this classification, see Wright, D., Hausken, E.G., and West, J. (1994). Family-Child Engagement in Literacy Activities: Changes in Participation Between 1991 and 1993. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.  

cChildren without mothers in the home are not included in estimates of mothers education or mothers employment status. A mother is defined as a biological mother, adoptive mother, stepmother, foster mother, or female guardian (e.g., grandmother) who resides in the home with the child.  

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1996 National Household Education Survey (NHES: 96).

 

34 Zill, N., and Nord, C.W. (1994). Running in Place: How American Families are Faring in a Changing Economy and Individualistic Society. Child Trends, Inc.

35 The level of involvement depends on the number of different activities reported by the parents, ranging from 0 or 1 (low involvement) to 2 (moderate involvement) to 3 or more activities (high involvement). Note that the number of times that the parent has been involved in each activity was not measured.

36 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 

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