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Promoting Parental Involvement in Schools

Parent engagement has long been touted as a component of student success. In a new working paper, researchers Felipe Barrera-Osorio of Vanderbilt, Paul Gertler of UC Berkeley, Nozomi Nakajima of Harvard, and Harry Patrinos of the World Bank examine the impact of parental involvement interventions on parent behavior and student success. 

The researchers looked at results from two trials using different types of interventions in schools in Mexico. The first intervention provided parents with information and resources about how to support their students' academically. The second intervention doubled the amount of grant money given to parent associations.

The researchers found that the two approaches produced different results. The information and resources intervention increased parent engagement in school events significantly. It also resulted in more support for schoolwork at home and an improvement in student behavior. The grant money intervention resulted in a temporary increase in parent engagement but no significant change in parent support at home or student behavior. Interestingly, neither intervention positively affected student academic achievement. Lastly, the resource intervention increased parent trust in teachers while the grant money intervention decreased parent trust in teachers. 

The positive impact from the resource intervention was most pronounced in indigenous populations, who have historically been excluded from school conversations. The researchers conclude that there is enormous potential for improving parent engagement by targeting groups that are often excluded.

By Catherine Dragone