There is widespread concern about the state of student achievement in America’s schools. The United
States ranks low in test scores among comparable countries, too few minority youth graduate from high
school, and disparities in test scores and graduation rates exist between white students and students of
color. One of the most frequently cited solutions to these problems is to increase parental involvement
in schools. Using a sample of urban children from low-income families from the Chicago Longitudinal
Study, this paper analyzes the effects of early parental involvement in school activities on long-term
educational outcomes and finds that having average or above level of parental involvement in the early
years of elementary school was associated with on-time graduation from high school, high school
completion by age 23, and whether a student was ever grade-retained through grade 8. Results for
whether or not a student ever received special education were sensitive in changes to the specification
of the parental involvement variable and control variables. This paper also analyzes the effect of socioeconomic
risk as a moderator of these results. As specified in this paper, high levels of socio-economic
risk do not moderate the relationship between parental involvement and the long-term outcomes. Both
low-risk and high-risk children benefit from parental involvement. Finally, this paper looks at the effect
of one intervention, the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, for its effectiveness in increasing parental
involvement in school. Policy implications are provided in the context of the results.
Parents at Urban Schools: Longer-Term Effects of Parental Involvement on Educational Outcomes.
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
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