The good news is that parents of elementary school

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The good news is that parents of elementary school students do seem to be engaged in their children’s education. A recent survey from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that 90 percent of the parents of elementary students said they had attended a parent-teacher conference—and that 60 percent volun- teered or served on a school com- mittee. But those numbers do not hold up once you move past the ele- mentary years. At the middle school level, 76 percent of parents reported attending a parent-teacher confer- ence, while 38 percent volunteered or served on a school committee; at the high school level, the study found that only six in 10 had attended a parent-teacher conference, and only a third (34 percent) had volunteered or served on a school committee. 1 This trend of parents becoming less engaged in school activities during the middle and high school years needs to be addressed because the family’s role in monitoring, motivating, and modeling positive behaviors is critical as students move into adolescence. Research unequivocally affirms the fact that parent, family, and community involvement in education has a positive and long-lasting effect on student learning in both middle school and high school, debunking the myth that parental involve- ment is either unnecessary or unwanted. 2 Engaging families at the secondary level Research shows the value of keeping parents engaged as their children move up the grades. An important study in 2008 found that student achievement of tenth graders increased when parents were engaged in these specific ways: discussed activities or events of interest to the stu- dent as well as topics the student studied in class; reviewed course selection with the student; attended a school meeting and volunteered at the child’s school. The authors of the study equated this level of parent involvement with the district spending an additional $1,000 per pupil. 3 Dr. Joyce Epstein, a distinguished researcher who directs the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University, has been studying the effects of parent, family, and community involvement on student outcomes for nearly three decades. Her framework of six types of parent involvement 4 has set a firm base for poli- cies and practices to support student academic success. Other researchers confirm that engaged families and communities have a positive impact on students’ aca- demic achievement (in English and math in particular), school attendance and graduation rates, the number of credits earned, postsecondary education and career Keeping Family-School-Community Connections Helps Support Secondary Students’ Success Research shows that parent involvement begins to decline at the onset of the pre-teen and adolescent years. It is extremely important for parents to be engaged in their children’s education and to support student learning throughout the grades. Increasing parent involvement in middle and high schools

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