Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Ethnicity and Language Contributions to Dimensions of Parent Involvement

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Ethnicity and Language Contributions to Dimensions of Parent Involvement

Article excerpt

Abstract. This study examined ethnic and language group differences on dimensions of parent-rated and teacher-rated parent involvement after adjusting for the influence of family socioeconomic factors. A total of 179 teachers and 481 parents provided information on parent school involvement for a sample of ethnically and linguistically diverse first-grade children attending one of three school districts in Texas. Four groups were examined: White, Black, Hispanic--English speaking, and Hispanic--Spanish speaking. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis supported four parent-reported involvement dimensions (positive perceptions about school, communication, parent-teacher shared responsibility, and parent school-based involvement) and three teacher-reported dimensions (alliance, general parent involvement, and teacher initiation of involvement). Data generally supported the hypothesized ethnic and language group differences in parent involvement and the moderating effect of dimension of parent involvement on group differences. Implications for school psychologists are discussed.

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Despite the effort of policy makers and educators to close the achievement gap between racial and ethnic minority students and Euro-American students, significant discrepancies remain. For example, national data indicate that in 1999, 18% of Black students and 13% of Hispanic or Latino students in kindergarten through twelfth grade had repeated at least one grade. These retention rates are higher than the 9% of White students who had repeated a grade (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). Ethnic differences were also apparent in suspension or expulsion and high school completion rates. In 1999, 35% of seventh- to twelfth-grade Black students had been suspended or expelled for disciplinary reasons at some point in their school years, compared to 20% of Hispanic students and 15% of Whites (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). In 2003, 88% of Black students and 62% Hispanic students completed high school, significantly lower than the 94% of Whites (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005).

For the past two decades, studies have provided convincing evidence that parents make significant contributions to their children's school outcomes (for review, see Fan & Chen, 2001; Jeynes, 2003). Results indicate that when parents participate at school and encourage or assist learning at home, children tend to be more successful at all grade levels. Specifically, parent participation in education is associated with increased student achievement, better school attendance, increased achievement motivation, reduced dropout rate, better emotional adjustment, and improved social behavior and interactions with peers (Fan & Chen, 2001; Hill et al., 2004; Izzo, Weissberg, Kasprow, & Fendrich, 1999; Marcon, 1999). Furthermore, the benefits of parent involvement in their children's schooling accrue to all ethnic groups (Jeynes, 2003).

Although empirical studies offer strong support for the view that parent involvement is associated with higher student achievement, it is important to acknowledge that the relationship between parent involvement and student achievement is most likely bidirectional (Englund, 2001). That is, parents adjust their involvement in response to student achievement levels. Also, parent involvement may be manifested differently at different ages and in different cultural contexts, and both age and context may moderate the effect of parent involvement on achievement (Hill et al., 2004). Thus, conclusions about the role of parent involvement may not be equally applicable for all groups.

Much educational research has examined why some parents become involved in their children's education and others do not (Grolnick, Benjet, Kurowski, & Apostoleris, 1997; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997). Much of this research has investigated the role of race and ethnicity in parent involvement, with varying results. …

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