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June 25, 2015

According to the November 17 issue of Education Week on-line newsletter, a new book Families, Schools and the Adolescent published August 2009 by College Press finds effective parent involvement at the middle and high school level looks different than it does in elementary school. The book synthesizes the results of 50 studies on parent involvement, sorting out the results for middle and high school. The editors of the work, Nancy E. Hill, Harvard University and Ruth K. Chao, University of California, Riverside concluded that while parent involvement is still important at the middle and high school levels, the type of involvement and activity make a difference.

According to the analysis, helping with homework at the secondary level does not make much impact on student success; visiting school, volunteering or attending school events only moderately improved student achievement. Interestingly, connections parents made with their children at home about school and their future education plans made a significant difference. Ms. Hill suggests that those activities are “academic socialization.”

These include

  • Expressing expectations for children’s achievement
  • Talking about learning strategies
  • Discussing career aspirations
  • Linking what the students were learning in school to outside activities or areas of interest
  • Making plans for the future

Another finding in the book came from work done by Robert Crosnoe, University of Texas. Mr. Crosnoe suspected that a problem with secondary and post- secondary success for some students involved a lack of understanding about how course work built from one year to the next and enabled academic pathways from middle through high school and on to college. With better communication between schools and families in middle and high school, especially about how course work prepares students from one year to the next and ultimately to success at the college level, families support students in making decisions and taking action in middle and high school that lead to college success.

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