Term Paper: Parental Involvement on School Performance

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[. . .] However, reviewing what others have done in this area is clearly not enough. The impact of parental involvement (or lack thereof) on this particular school must be measured so that a realization can occur that this problem hits 'close to home.' Problems are often deemed much more important when it is realized that the problem affects one's community and children, instead of just affecting people somewhere else. In order to determine whether parental involvement is really a factor, there are several things that must be done.

First, all of the final report card grades (categorized by year) for each student must be gathered and grouped so that children are ranked by what grade they received (A through F) in each subject. Second, questionnaires should be sent home to all parents asking about the amount of time spent on homework each night, if they help their child with homework, and if so, how much and how often.

These questionnaires should also ask whether the parent works outside the home, how many other children they have and what age, annual income (parents may decline to answer this if they wish), and whether they perceive their child to be interested or disinterested in school. Another important question is what level of schooling the parents completed, as this may give some indication of how important academics is to them.

It is, of course, taken into account that how far someone has gone in school does not always reflect a lack of desire to go further. Money and other issues also come into the picture where college and other higher education are concerned. This questionnaire, along with the children's grades, should be sufficient to show whether parental involvement plays a role in academic performance.

V. Data Analysis

The data will be analyzed by first taking all of the responses from parents and grouping them into categories (income, other children, working, etc.). Then these parents will be matched up with their child and the child's grades will be examined. From this, a correlation will be found between the grades that a child is getting in school and how much time that child's parents spend with them on school-related activities. This does not mean that there won't be some exceptions.

There are always some children that do poorly despite their parents' best efforts, just as there are always children that do well even though their parents don't care. These children are out there, but they are the exception, not the rule. The analysis of the data will allow for some margin of error, because life is not perfect.

However, an analysis should show that, in general, children who perform well in school have more parental involvement overall than children who perform poorly. This is why programs for these at-risk children are so badly needed and why this problem should receive the grant money that will help these children get involved with caring adults who can work with them on homework and help them to boost their grades and their self-esteem. They will not be ready for the future without receiving help now.

VI. Limitations of the Study

Like all studies, there are limitations to this one. The number of surveys received from parents and the truthfulness and thoughtfulness of their answers obviously affect the overall outcome of the study. There are also, as has been mentioned, exceptions to the rule that disinterested parents make for disinterested or academically poor children. Not all children do poorly if their parents are unconcerned or uneducated, but statistics lean toward a correlation between parents and children when it comes to intelligence and education, as well as other traits. Genetics do play a role.

Another limitation of this study is that there may be serious contributing factors to why some parents don't spend much time helping their children with school, and it might be that the lack of parental involvement is overshadowed by more important problems in the child's life. Illness of a parent, sibling, or other close family member, single parents with custody or other conflicts, and many other issues can cause extra stress for some children. This could be weighing heavily on a child's mind, and this would cause a disruption in their study habits and abilities to complete schoolwork.

In light of this, it is possible that some children would not benefit from increased parental involvement, but the study still maintains that most children do perform better in school, both socially and academically, when their parents are involved. Clearly, this is an area that requires further research and study.

VII. Bibliography

Bartle, S.E., Anderson, S.A., & Sabatelli, R.M. (1989). A model of parenting style, adolescent individuation and adolescent self-esteem: Preliminary findings. Journal of Adolescent Research, 4, 283-298.

Callan, V.J., & Noller, P. (1986). Perceptions of communicative relationships in families with adolescents. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48(4), 813-820.

Catsambis, Sophia. (1995). Parents, Their Children, and Schools. (book reviews). Social Forces (74): 751-753.

Dornbusch, S.M., Ritter, P.L., Leiderman, P.H., Roberts, D.F., & Fraleigh, M.J. (1987). The relation of parenting style to adolescent school performance. Child Development, 58, 1244-1257.

Family Reporter/News Trends Voices Views: Parents and School: Talk vs. Action. (2000). Parenting: 35.

Paikoff, R.L., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1991). Do parent-child relationships change during puberty? Psychological Bulletin, 110, 47-66.

Paulson, S.E.; Sputa, C.L. (1996). Patterns of parenting during adolescence: perceptions of adolescents and parents. Vol. 31, Adolescence, 31, 369-383.

Smollar, J., & Youniss, J. (1989). Transformations in adolescents' perceptions of parents. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 12(1), 71-84.

Stevenson, D.L., & Baker, D.P. (1987). The family-school relation and the child's school performance. Child Development, 58, 1348-1357.

White, James. (1994). National Poll Reinforces Merits of School Choice. National Minority Politics.

VIII. Visuals Used to Convince the Panel

In order to convince the panel of the seriousness of this problem and the need for the grant, bar graphs will be used that demonstrate the various correlations that arise from comparing the students' grades to the answers on the questionnaires given to the parents. Each graph will show a different correlation. For example, one bar will show students who make 'A' grades, and another bar will show how many of these same students have parents who work outside the home. There will be bars for all of the questions asked on the questionnaire, and separate graphs for each grade (A, B, etc.).

For the purpose of providing information that is not overwhelming, the students' grades will be averaged so that each subject does not need to have a separate graph or chart, as this would require extensive creation of charts that would only provide tedious and tiresome… [END OF PREVIEW]

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