Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Parental Involvement in Education

In response to:

Why Canadian students are among the globe's smartest
Published in the Globe and Mail (August 23, 2013)


The article entitled “Why Canadian students are among the globe’s smartest” (August 23, 2013), correctly reports OECD evidence demonstrating the lack of relationship between a handful of common parent activities in schools and student achievement. However, the article draws the sweeping and incorrect conclusion that “Parental involvement in schools appears to result in lower test scores, not higher ones.” Parent involvement in school occurs both in the school and in the home. The evidence about parental involvement is more nuanced than the article conveys.

The evidence concerning parental involvement with school in the home context indicates that parents make significant contributions to the success of their children at school when they engage in practices of the following kinds: reading to their children, communicating high expectations and aspirations for their children’s success at school, providing access to school- related social and intellectual resources, talking frequently with their children about school-related issues, and promoting their children’s critical thinking. 

Considerable evidence also indicates that parents are better able to do these things when they involve themselves in the school for the purpose of communicating with teachers about their children’s challenges and progress, and learning about the school’s curriculum, the language of schooling and the opportunities available to their children through the school.


Thus, while some forms of parental involvement in schools have little to do with student learning, others are quite critical to such learning. It is a disservice to parents to categorically conclude that there is an adverse relationship between their involvement and school performance.

  • Ruth Baumann 
  • Ron Canuel, CEO, Canadian Education Association 
  • Gerry Connelly, Co Director Education Sustainability Development Academy, York University
  • Lorna Earl, Director, Aporia Consulting Ltd. and President of the International Congress of School Effectiveness and School Improvement
  • Sue Ferguson, Associate, Curriculum, Teaching & Learning Dept., OISE 
  • Kathleen Gallagher, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education 
  • Joan M. Green, O.Ont., Former Director of Education, Founding CEO of EQAO, International Consultant on Public Policy 
  • Bill Hogarth, Retired Director of Education, Education Consultant 
  • Ken Leithwood, Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education 
  • Penny Milton, former CEO, Canadian Education Association 
  • Charles E. Pascal, Professor, University of Toronto, Former Ontario Deputy Minister of Education 
  • Jim Slotta, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education 
  • Charles Ungerleider, Professor Emeritus (The University of British Columbia) and Director of Research (Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, LLP.

Illustrative Studies
Borgonovi, F., Montt, G. (2012). Parent involvement in selected PISA countries and economies.France, OECD (07 May)
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London, UK: Routledge.
Hawes, Carmen Ann, Plourde, Lee A. (2005). Parental involvement and its influence on the Reading achievement of 6th grade students, Reading Improvement, 42, p. 47.
Jeynes, W. (2005). A meta-analysis of the relation of parent involvement to urban elementary school student academic achievement, Urban Education, 40, 3, 237-269.
Park, H. (2008). The varied educational effects of parent-childcommunication: a comparative study of fourteen countries,Comparative Education Review, 2008, 50, 2, 219-243

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