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ERIC Number: ED523994
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 54
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 327
Reframing Family Involvement in Education: Supporting Families to Support Educational Equity. Equity Matters. Research Review No. 5
Weiss, Heather B.; Bouffard, Suzanne M.; Bridglall, Beatrice L.; Gordon, Edmund W.
Campaign for Educational Equity, Teachers College, Columbia University
One of the most powerful but neglected supports for children's learning and development is family involvement both in and out of school. Over 40 years of steadily accumulating evidence show that family involvement is one of the strongest predictors of children's school success, and that families play pivotal roles in their children's cognitive, social, and emotional development from birth through adolescence. However, resources for and commitments to promoting meaningful family involvement have been few, weak, and inconsistent. To reframe public understanding of the benefits of family involvement in children's education, this paper lays out a research-based definition and more equitable approach to family involvement and positions it as a key cross-cutting component of broader comprehensive or complementary learning systems in which families, schools, after-school and summer learning programs, school-based health clinics, and others have a shared responsibility for children's learning. Beginning with a brief historical overview of conceptions of family roles and responsibilities in children's learning, this paper next offers a review of recent research on the ways in which expectations and support for family involvement have shifted, particularly with respect to economically disadvantaged and racial and ethnic minority families. Research suggests that low-income families have fewer opportunities for involvement and are, indeed, less involved in many ways. The next section lays out a reframed approach to family involvement: Family involvement should be situated within larger complementary learning systems to facilitate continuity of learning across contexts and ages, increase the chances that families and other learning supports will share learning goals and commitments to the child's school success, and increase the opportunities to surround children with a linked network of supports so that if one area of support falters, others remain. Interventions that have been developed to increase parental involvement among low-income families and other at-risk populations are another important part of the knowledge base. The next section of the paper reviews the family involvement research and intervention literature, coupled with research on the barriers and supports for the involvement of disadvantaged and minority families. The interventions evidence provides much of the warrant for the authors' proposed reframing of family involvement: Continuous, cross-context family involvement is necessary to meet the goal of educational equity. The recommendations and conclusion to the paper argue for a research-based and broadly shared approach to family involvement to guide policy development and practice. Family involvement within a complementary learning system is necessary to achieve educational equity and close achievement gaps; differences in opportunities for family involvement precipitate or exacerbate unequal educational opportunities and outcomes. (Contains 10 notes.)
Campaign for Educational Equity, Teachers College, Columbia University. Box 219, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 646-745-8282; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Columbia University, Campaign for Educational Equity
IES Cited: ED557975; ED557977; ED557978; ED550096