Parental Engagement in Low SES Districts


Parental Engagement in Low SES Districts
Caroline Pluta, Leighanne Dyer, Julie Chang 
Spring 2017
“I really believe that you are the child’s teacher at home, and we happen to be their teacher in school, but we have similar goals in teaching your children to be good adults and capable people.” (Hong, 2011, pp. 120).

1.    History/ Background:
      In the earliest schools in America, parents were largely involved in schooling, as they were the reason for schooling, the founders of schools, and decided what their children were to learn.
      Said schools were created through parents and community members to enforce religious values first, and school subjects second. These schools were based on family’s social status, where children from similar backgrounds attended the same schools. 
      “In brief, the American scene in elementary education was one of local parental control of school governance, parental support of curriculum, parental choice of teachers, and parental support of religious teachings of the school.” - Hiatt-Michael



2.    Current Status/ Issues:
            Teacher’s attitudes towards parent involvement is an ongoing program faced in              many schools, especially schools containing students with a lower socioeconomic status
      Teachers need to change their attitudes and make the effort to understand “…more about the culture of the community.” (Hong, 2011, pp. 122).
      Parents’ attitudes towards teachers may be negative as well
      Parents need to understand the demands of teachers such as “…the academic expectations, behavior management issues, the stresses…” (Hong, 2011, pp. 120).
      Teachers may develop “the single narrative”, in which they develop a whole story about a student based on lack of parental engagement.
      The tensions of teacher-parent relationships:
      Parents may view teachers are rich upper-middle class people who judge them and don’t understand what they go through; resent them
      Teachers may view parents as uninvolved and unsupportive 
      There needs to be a shift in thinking about parent participation as voluntary, to thinking about parent participation as necessary and extremely valuable for student success.
       Soo Hong stresses the importance of seeing parents as vital resources and “…as important partners in educating students.” (2011, pp. 99).

3.    Findings/ Research:
      It is important that both the teacher and parents are aware of the effects of judgmental views, and can shift their thinking for the greater good of students.
      Teachers should be aware of how students’ backgrounds and home life affect how they learn and act in the classroom:
      Know the child’s story and the family’s story
      Do NOT create the single story
      Schools should create opportunities to provide parents with ways to become involved. Though creating these opportunities, parents, teachers, and various school staff can create more positive and productive relationships.
      Some schools may create opportunities, however these involvement opportunities may not be accommodating all families within the school (transportation, money, etc.)
      When teachers are aware that a student’s parents may be uninvolved, they typically show little interest in establishing a rapport with said student’s parents.
      Typically resistance to approach parents after parents ignore emails/ phone calls/ notes home
      Parental engagement helps students with better social skills and adaptations to school. (Henderson, 2002)


      Parent–school relationships “may be especially beneficial in the early childhood years for promoting early academic and social skills that are predictive of later school success” (Powell, Son, & San Juan, 2010, p. 270)

4.    Examples of Best Practice:
      Implementing a district wide curriculum/ raising awareness:
      Operational Curriculum
      Schools may provide professional development opportunities regarding relationships with parents of students
      Parents may provide workshops teaching teachers about the different families within community.
      Parent-Teacher Mentor Program
      Building a relationship between teachers and parents that positive and beneficial for students
      Family Nights
      Provide food, gifts to win, etc.
      Game night, movie nights
      Create family nights that are accommodating to all families within the community (free, provided transportation, etc.)
      Dinner Night
               ■  Spaghetti Dinner night with math games/reading activities

5.    Building Relationships:
This video (CLICK ME!) stresses the importance of building a bridge to close the gap in between parents and teachers.  The video clip does a really nice job of providing examples of how this can be accomplished and how crucial it is for academic success.

6.    International Examples:
      “There is no universal agreement on what parental involvement is, as the concept of participation varies widely by context. The exact characteristics of quality parental involvement in early learning processes must be defined in country contexts. However, there are two broad strands:
1.     Parents’ involvement in the life of the school.
2.     Their involvement in support of the individual child at home and at school (UK Dept. of education and skills, 20032).” - UNICEF


      Around the world, parents are expected to work with children at home, and be active in collaboration with their children’s teachers, however these expectations are not always met.



7.    Resources:


      UNICEF: international resource (
      Hstory/ background resource (

      Definition of parental engagement (

      “A Cord of Three Strands” By Soo Hong

      Journal of School Psychology- Powell, Son, & San Juan, 2010, p. 270

      Parent Involvement: Contributions of Teacher Efficacy, School Socioeconomic Status, and Other School Characteristics- Hoover-Dempsey, Bassler, Brissie 1987, p. 429

      Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.