NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: ED562821
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 30
Measuring Family-School Relations for School Reform and Improvement
Schueler, Beth
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
A series of metaanalyses have documented a notable association between family engagement with children's learning and students' academic outcomes (Fan & Chen, 2001; Hill & Tyson, 2009; Jeynes, 2003, 2005, 2007). Family-school engagement is also associated with effective school-level reform and improvement efforts. The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research examined the commonalities between schools that experienced academic improvement over a period of seven years in the Chicago Public School system and identified five essential characteristics that were in place at improved schools, one of which was strong relationships between parents and schools (Bryk, Sebring, Allensworth, Luppescu, & Easton, 2010). This body of research has helped spark a series of policy efforts to promote family-school engagement at federal, state, and district levels, often as a key strategy for turning around persistently low-performing schools (Gehlbach, Mapp, Capotosto, Bahena, Schueler & Garland, 2013). While some scholars argue that these policies could mitigate educational inequality, others caution that universal family involvement promotion efforts have the potential to reinforce patterns of educational inequality. Scholars have documented class-based differences in the skills, confidence, and orientation necessary for parents to effectively intervene in school affairs (Diamond & Gomez, 2004; Lareau, 1987, 1989, 2002; Lareau & Munoz, 2012; McGrath & Kuriloff, 1999). To the extent that family engagement does indeed improve students' chances for academic success, class-based differences in family-school relations could contribute to class-based achievement gaps. Pro-engagement policy efforts could mitigate inequality if they successfully encourage involvement among the least engaged parent populations. However, universal family involvement promotion efforts have the potential to reinforce educational inequality if they simply provide more support for already engaged parents to either stay involved or increase their involvement (Lareau & Shumar, 1996; Fine, 1993). Therefore, additional research is needed to examine whether these programs decrease or reinforce inequality and to identify what policies and practices best encourage engagement among those parents whose children would benefit most. At the school level, to effectively target and promote engagement, educators need to understand how parents perceive the degree to which they engage, whether parents' perceptions align with the school's view, as well as the barriers that parents believe prevent them from getting involved (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997). Unfortunately, there are a limited number of existing tools designed to measure family-school engagement, and particularly barriers to engagement. This presentation and paper describe the process one research team used to develop a set of survey tools that assess parents' perceptions of their engagement with their children's schools and the barriers they perceive that prevent them from becoming more involved. Findings suggest that educational leaders and researchers alike can use the survey tools developed to measure parent perceptions of their engagement with the school and the barriers they face to becoming more involved. The author believes that the tools described here can aid educators in identifying groups of parents that are less engaged and in need of targeted outreach efforts, designing family-engagement strategies that are tailored to their communities, and tracking their progress at encouraging engagement over time. The author also supports the opinion that researchers can rely on these tools to better understand the ways in which family-school engagement can be harnessed to alleviate, rather than reinforce, educational inequality. Tables are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Illinois