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Federal Survey Examines Parent Engagement in Education

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A new national survey finds that most parents are attending their schools' parent-teacher conferences, receiving school notes and e-mails, and helping their children with homework.

But the same federally-funded National Center for Education Statistics survey also found that a smaller percentage of these parents volunteer at their schools and that low-income parents or those parents who don't speak English are less likely to receive specific e-mails or notes from school about their students.

And while 59 percent of parents overall say they are satisfied with their school, only 52 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the way their school staff interacts with parents. African-American parents are the least satisfied with their school at 50 percent. Private school parents were the most satisfied at about 80 percent.

The Parent and Family Involvement in Education survey, which was released Aug. 30, compiled the responses of more than 17,000 parents of K-12 students about parent engagement in learning at school, home, and in the community. The national survey, which included public, private, and home-schooled students, was conducted last year. Because the survey's data collection method was changed from a telephone survey to a mail survey, comparisons to prior years' results were not made.

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • Most parents, 87 percent, reported receiving newsletters, memos, e-mail, or notices addressed to all parents from their child's school and 57 percent say they were given notes or e-mail specifically addressing their own child. But for parents who identify themselves as poor, only 48 percent receive specific information about their child. Only 46 percent of parents who don't speak English receive that input.
  • African-American parents (71 percent) and poor parents (72 percent) are more likely than their counterparts to check their children's homework. Overall, 67 percent of parents report that an adult checks their children's homework.
  • Most parents, 87 percent, said they attended a general school or parent-teacher organization or association meeting, and 74 percent attended a school or class event, but a smaller percentage volunteer at school. Of those parents surveyed, 42 percent said they volunteered or served on a school committee.
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