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Citation:Richman-Prakash, N., West, J., Denton, K. (2002). Differences in parental involvement in their childrenÕs school, among families in poverty. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

The purpose of this study is to examine differences in parent involvement for children in economically disadvantaged families and to identify barriers to parent involvement. Specifically, the authors examined the degree to which families are involved in their childrenÕs schools, whether involvement varies according to particular family characteristics, and the relationship between the level of involvement and barriers to involvement. The study found that parentsÕ involvement in school activities varied by type of activity. Parents are more likely to attend activities that are offered more frequently and require less time commitment (open houses, parent teacher conferences, and school events). They are less likely to attend advisory group meetings or volunteer at the school. The study also found that parents with higher education levels are more likely to participate in school activities than are parents with less education. The most frequently reported barriers to involvement were inconvenient meeting times and difficulty in getting time off from work. Furthermore, mothers are more likely to be involved in their childrenÕs school activities than are fathers. The data for this study were drawn from a nationally representative sample of 22,000 ethnically diverse kindergarten through fifth grade children. During a computer-assisted interview, parents were asked whether the attended school activities and barriers to attending, as well as about characteristics of their children. The study presents information about future research needs including more complex models that capture the effects of parent involvement on childrenÕs school outcomes. One limitation of this study is that it relies on self reported data. Furthermore, because the authors do not provide a description of their analyses, readers are not able to scrutinize the rigor of their approach.

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