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Citation:Nord, C. W., & West, J. (2001). FatherÕs and motherÕs involvement in their childrenÕs schools by family type and resident status. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics.

The author presents evidence that parent involvement in stepparent families differs from that in intact families. Typically, students living in nontraditional families (43% of students) do less well in school than those living with both parents, and the reasons are not understood. Findings showed that fathersÕ involvement was particularly important for academic achievement, and mothersÕ involvement was important for getting good grades and reducing the likelihood of conduct problems. In addition, single parentsÕ involvement was associated with better school outcomes. Researchers examined data from the National Household Education Survey of 1996 (NHES:96) to determine: a) the effects of family structure on childrenÕs well-being; b) the importance of parent involvement to student outcomes; and c) the effects of nonresident parental involvement on childrenÕs well-being. Specifically they looked at how nonresident mothers were involved in school activities. A large, nationally representative sample of students grades 1-12 was randomly selected for the NHES:96, and for this study 16,145 studentsÕ parents were interviewed by telephone. Three student outcomes were used in this report: academic success (grades), academic difficulties (retention), and, for 6th-12th graders, conduct problems (suspension or expulsion). Researchers defined high parent involvement in school as participating in at least three of four typical school activities, including a general school meeting, a parent-teacher conference, a school or class event, and volunteering at the school. The researchers explain that the NHES:96 collects data at a single point in time and, therefore, cannot explain causation. Also, mothers were most often the respondents reporting on parent involvement, including father involvement. The study nevertheless is one of few that examine achievement associated with family structure, and, especially, single parent involvement.

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