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Citation:Chen, X. (2001). Efforts by public K-8 schools to involve parents in childrenÕs education: Do school and parent reports agree? Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics.

This study compares parentsÕ responses and K-8 schoolsÕ responses to two similar surveys on parent involvement practices. The intent is to study the level of agreement and determine whether the parents acknowledge schoolsÕ efforts and whether the schools are reporting the same level of parent participation as the parents. Results show that discrepancies between parent and school reports were not consistent across school characteristics. For example, one school practice researchers examined was schools giving parents information about adolescent development, and the degree of the differences varies by school size, urban/rural setting, grade level, and minority enrollment. The researchers compared results of two similar surveys conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics in 1996. One, the Survey on Family and School Partnerships in Public Schools, K-8, was administered to a nationally-representative sample of 810 schools. The second instrument, the Parent and Family Involvement in Education/Civic Involvement Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program, 1996 (PFI/CI-NHES:1996) was conducted over the telephone with parents of over 20,000 children age 3 through grade 12. In order to be sure that the differently-worded questions from the two surveys reliably elicited valid responses, the items were first correlated with EpsteinÕs Six Types of Family Involvement (1995) and then associated. Analysis compared school and parent reports on: a) practices designed by schools to engage parents, such as providing information about their children and the school, affording volunteer opportunities, and including parents in decision making; and b) parent participation in school-sponsored activities such as back-to-school night and parent conferences. The implications and explanations the authors identify are that parents remain unaware of what schools are doing to engage them, and that institutions are not equally effective in getting the word out. Parents, in turn, may not be setting aside sufficient time to attend to the notices and invitations sent by the school. This gives us some insight into the importance of communication between schools and families. Two similar surveys were used, but the exact wording of questions and the subsequent interpretation by respondents, combined with biases always present in survey data, weaken the generalizability of the results.

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