Thursday, October 27, 2005

Do Parents Matter?

This news article in the LA Times seems to imply that parent involvement is not a factor in student achievement.

Reading the article carefully however, will reveal that all schools in the study were low-income schools.

In other words, when comparing students of poor parents to other students of poor parents, parental involvement is not as significant as curriculum alignment and high expectations on the part of the school personnel.

However, comparing the parental involvement of students in middle-class and upper-class schools to students of parents from poor backgrounds could reveal a different headline.


At Thursday, October 27, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect, I think you are misreading the article. Students with similar academic backgrounds were chosen so that other factors, including parent involvement, could be measured fairly. While this is very unusual in the education field, it is very typical of well-designed studies.

And while I know the findings are contrary to popular opinion, they are actually quite consistent with data from other, larger studies -- including those from the Tennessee Value-Added work and the Education Trust. What each of these studies has said consistently is that what happens IN the school is more important to learning that what happens OUT of school. They do not completely dismiss the influence of family, neighborhood, etc -- but they say clearly that school matters more. That is why, as this particular report tried to emphasize, that some schools in very poor (even foreign-speaking) populations do extremely well -- while others do not.

We need to stop making excuses in education. What happens in the classroom really DOES matter!

At Thursday, October 27, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

I didn't intend to excuse anything or to imply that the classroom does not matter.

It does matter, but there is one little obvious point that is often ignored by everyone, namely that it is easier for good parenting to overcome bad schooling than it is for good schooling to overcome bad parenting. That doesn't excuse bad parenting or bad schooling nor does it make overcoming either one impossible.

But, Dr. David Berliner in his excellent white paper on the effects of poverty, calls this the "600 pound gorilla in the living room." Our entire nation ignores it, pretending that schools are the problem to most things, therefore they are the solution to everything. Both of which are wrong.

This study chose to compare only parental involvement found within the construct of schools of poverty. The environment and opportunities available to the growing child are restricted in a poverty-stricken family.

I was assuming people would see that their might be differences if you compared poverty students with involved parents to middle-class or wealthy students with involved parents. It is possible that the TYPE of parental involvement and the type of stimuli given to a child of privilege might very well show that it makes a big difference when there are not genetic disabilities involved.

To imply that parental involvement is not a factor in success is what could be misleading. There are many emotional and personal characteristics that are important for success beyond school that a test cannot measure well. Many of these are supported and enhanced, not by school, but by opportunities that a life of privilege gives some people.

We do need to continue to improve our schools, but continuing to ignore the effects of poverty in America is a big problem growing bigger.

Now I'll grant that the author did post in smaller letters under the headline a qualification of the headline but still...

At Thursday, October 27, 2005, Blogger annie said...

i read the berliner piece is excellent and so upsetting. the stuff on that site litters my desk ( and litter is NEVER TRASH on MY desk these days...)

i love this: "it is easier for good parenting to overcome bad schooling than it is for good schooling to overcome bad parenting."

this is a leap but...i am mindful of another assumption readily made. and that is that the middle or affluent homelife is "better" in terms of parenting...i mean, we have to know by now that we are a long way beyond the donna reed show....

At Friday, October 28, 2005, Blogger Moi ;) said...

>>it is easier for good parenting to overcome bad schooling than it is for good schooling to overcome bad parenting. <<

Well, in the case of special ed students, only if you have another option as far as schools go....

It's not so easy for the good parents of special needs students to overcome bad schooling. We have to fight like HELL to get services, or to get school administrators to comply with their IEPs.

If I weren't a teacher, my son would have been doomed.

At Saturday, October 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moi Aussi to "Moi"

As a parent of a child with spec. needs, I am in agreement with your assesment. My two reg. ed kids will do fine in most classrooms because of involved parenting. I will make up for any defecits I see in the classroom, at home.

Not so with my kid with spec. needs. So far we have hand picked her educators and she is achieving at her full potential. Not so for the other kids who do not have parental advocates. They are stuck in segregated classrooms and shipped off to other school systems on extremely long bus rides for what amounts to day care.

I have no doubt that kids with involved parents have an edge. But it is not a level playing ground for kids with spec. needs.

involved parent


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