An introduction to the issue of parent involvement in education

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An introduction to the issue of parent involvement in education


Lessons Learned Diana P. Dwyer First published online: May 2, DOI: In particular, the school environment is likely to be dominated by political constituencies—both liberal and conservative—attempting to foster their own agendas.

As a result, school officials must deal with well-organized groups emphatically advocating diametrically opposed views. In such an environment, it is not surprising that conducting a valid evaluation study is often a lesser concern. We encountered a number of these problems during a pilot study with 5th-8th-grade students in Memphis, Tennessee.

With the aim of increasing parental involvement in school-based family life education, we examined the value of supplementing the curriculum with joint parent-child homework assignments.

In addition, we sought to assess the efficacy of a voluntary parental training program that taught techniques for increasing communication between parents and children. The purpose of this article is to share some of our experiences in this area, and to provide some insights to others contemplating evaluation work in school-based sexuality education.

Background Inthe Memphis City Schools developed and implemented the Family Life Curriculum, a knowledge- and skills-based sexuality education program designed for students from kindergarten through 12th grade with the stated purpose of reducing the high adolescent pregnancy rate.

An introduction to the issue of parent involvement in education

This initiative was adopted in anticipation of the passage of a Tennessee state law mandating school-based sex education in counties with adolescent pregnancy rates exceeding The program was part of the health education curriculum and progressed from simple concepts of family at lower elementary grade levels to complex family relationships and human sexuality at the junior and senior high school levels.

A variety of approaches was used in the presentation of this material, including lectures, discussions, audiovisual presentations and guest speakers.

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As with many school-based sexuality education programs, the curriculum was hotly debated before being implemented, and the Tennessee State Board of Education mandated that the program be evaluated five years after its inception.

In some schools it had never been presented, whereas in other schools, the teachers assigned to present it had covered only selected portions of the material. While many school-based programs lack such a component, a small body of recent research suggests that the promotion of parental involvement may be an important component of school-based sexuality-education programs.

Specifically, we recommended that a pilot study be conducted to test the efficacy of adding two supplements to the curriculum: The Memphis public school administration implemented this pilot study, and we were invited to assist in its planning, execution and evaluation.

What follows is an overview of this effort, including our initial strategies, the impediments we encountered, our midcourse corrections and the eventual outcome, which—despite many difficulties—had an unexpected level of impact.

The final plan, which called for an experimental group and a nonequivalent control group, was designed to use the following outcome measures: Participants In all, students in grades at four Memphis public schools participated in the study conducted during the school year, as did one or both parents of these students.

The four schools chosen for the pilot program—two elementary schools and two junior high schools—were selected by school administrative personnel, who also determined which would be the experimental schools and which would be the controls.

Although school officials were well aware of the needs presented by the research design, we were unable to influence either the selection of schools or their assignment to experimental or control status.

The result was that experimental and control schools were decidedly "nonequivalent.

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Experimental and control schools differed in terms of both racial composition and socioeconomic level. In addition, the two groups of schools differed in their levels of experience with the curriculum. The curriculum supplement used in the experimental classes consisted of homework designed to be completed by the student and one or both parents.

Copies of homework assignments are available from the authors upon request.

An introduction to the issue of parent involvement in education

The homework assignments were developed at a one-day workshop attended by the teachers assigned to present the experimental program, designated school administration personnel and the senior author of this article.

Assignments for each grade level were designed to enhance the curriculum, as well as to promote parent-child discussions of subjects related to family life and human sexuality.

The topics were grade-appropriate, were based on the curriculum content, and covered subjects such as family structure and relationships, coping with conflicts, changes that occur during puberty, and dating and sexuality. This sheet, rather than the actual homework, was to be returned to the classroom teacher.

With the assistance of students, teachers, counselors, the Family Life Curriculum Council and the school personnel involved in overseeing the program, two student surveys were developed.Parental Involvement and Academic Achievement; A Study on Secondary School Students of Lahore, Pakistan Introduction Education is essential for the development of society.

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