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Studies have shown students with parent involvement in school events tend to perform better, with pupils achieving higher grades when their caregivers play an active role in their schooling.

Financial difficulties can play a considerable role in parental involvement in schools. Typically, parents attend fewer school events if their family is experiencing financial hardship.

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Interesting facts about parent involvement in schools

In 2016, the number of caregivers who attended a meeting, conference, class, or school event reached an all-time high.

More parents and guardians are attending school meetings

There are big differences in the attainment of students whose parents attend school meetings and class events and volunteer at the school and those who don’t. In addition to this, a caregiver’s education has been shown to have an impact on their child’s attainment.

Higher parent involvement in schools

Parental involvement can be measured by assessing attendance about four types of events:

  • Parent-teacher conference
  • Class or school event
  • General Meeting
  • Volunteering or being part of a school committee

Typically, more parents attend general meetings than any other type of school event. Still, overall, the number of caregivers who take an active role in school life has risen in recent years. With a steady increase from 1996-2007 and a slight dip from 2012, 2016 saw the highest parental involvement figures.

In 2016, for example, 89% of students had a parent who attended a general meeting. This is a significant increase from 77% in 1996. Similarly, the number of students whose parent(s) attended a parent-teacher conference rose from 72% to 77% over the same period.

A 10% increase in the number of students whose parents attended a class or school event also highlights the trend of growing parental involvement in schools, while the rise from 39% to 43% of parents who volunteered at their child’s school shows a rise in the number of caregivers who are taking on specific roles.

Parental involvement race differences

Parent involvement in schools has shown differences depending on the student’s race. Overall, the parents of non-Hispanic white students attended the school more often than the parents of non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic students.

In 2016, for example, 80% of non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander students had a parent who attended a general meeting at their school, while 87% of non-Hispanic black students and Hispanic students had parents who attended, and 91% of non-Hispanic white students had caregivers who attended these types of meetings. Students have shown similar trends when parental attendance is assessed for other types of school events, such as:

2016 parent involvement in schools

  • Non-Hispanic black students – 72%
  • Non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander students – 71%
  • Hispanic students – 71%
  • Non-Hispanic white students – 76%

2016 Parent volunteers or school committee board

  • Non-Hispanic black students – 34%
  • Non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander students – 42%
  • Hispanic students – 36%
  • Non-Hispanic white students – 49%

However, studies have also shown the lower rates of attendance associated with parents of non-Hispanic black students, non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander students, and Hispanic students do not reflect parental disinterest. While parents may be eager to attend these events, parents of non-white students are statistically less likely to have a flexible work schedule that allows them to attend school events.

When parental involvement in homework and learning at home is assessed, there is far less difference in terms of race. Students from minority or ethnic groups typically have similar support from their parents at home compared to white students.

Statistics by grade

Statistics show that parents are generally more involved in school life when their child is in elementary or middle school. Over 90% of students from kindergarten to eighth grade had a parent who attended a general meeting in 2016, whereas this figure was 82% for students in grades nine to twelve.

Similarly, 92% of kindergarten to grade two students had a caregiver who attended a parent-teacher conference compared with 90% of children in grades three to five, 73% of middle school students, and 58% of high school pupils.

Regarding class or school events, parents also show more involvement during the early years of education. Available statistics suggest that 85% of kindergarten through second-grade students had parents who attended this event, with 84% of pupils receiving the same support in grades three to five. However, these figures fall to 76% and 73% for middle and high school students.

Finally, the rate of parent volunteers is also much higher among younger students. 2016 highlighted 56% of students in kindergarten to second grade had a caregiver who volunteered at their school or took part in a committee, while this figure dropped to 51% for children in grades three to five, 35% for pupils in grades six to eight and 32% for students in grades nine to twelve.

Poverty level differences

When students live in a household with an income above the federal poverty level (FPL), their parents generally take a more active role in their school and attend more events than parents from homes with an income below the FPL.

People with a lower income tend to have less flexible work schedules, which may account for household finances’ impact on parental involvement in schools.

Parent language differences

Parents who speak English attend more school events, parent-teacher conferences, and general meetings and volunteer more often than non-English-speaking parents. Studies of parental involvement in 2016 suggested that 82% of students with two English-speaking parents had a caregiver who attended some school event, while this number fell to 71% and 62%, respectively, for students with one non-English-speaking parent and students with two non-English-speaking parents.

Of course, if a parent does not speak English, they may struggle to communicate with school staff, and it may be extremely difficult for them to take on an active role. For example, working with other parents on a committee may be impossible for non-English-speaking parents.

However, this does not mean that parents who do not speak English are less supportive or interested in their child’s education. If schools try to communicate effectively with non-English speaking parents in their native languages, parental involvement tends to increase.

Parental educational differences

In most cases, parents with higher attainment levels take a more active role in their child’s schooling. In 2016, this correlated to 87% of parents with a degree or higher attending a class or school event and 54% of parents with less than a high school education attending the same events.

Similarly, parents are more likely to volunteer if they have achieved high attainment levels themselves. 2016 figures suggest that 65% of parent volunteers had participated in professional or graduate school, and just 25% of parent volunteers who have not completed their high school education.

Summary

Although various factors impact parental involvement, overall trends suggest that increasing numbers of students have parents or caregivers who attend at least one type of school event throughout the academic year.

Having grown year-on-year from 1996 – 2012, from 2016 onward, this trend has continued to increase, and, as a result, parental involvement in schools remains higher than ever before. Check out 20 questions to ask your child’s teacher during a parent-teacher conference.