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Citation:Simon, B. S. (2004). High school outreach and family involvement. Social Psychology of Education, 7(2), 185-209.

When high schools reach out to families, are parents more likely to support their teenagers as learners? This research examines whether high school outreach programs can help sustain family partnerships that tend to decline as students transition from middle to high school. Predictors of parental involvement in various partnership activities at the high school level are examined. Analyses indicated significant relationships among several school outreach activities and a variety of parent involvement measures. Results indicated that high school outreach programs significantly and positively predicted parent involvement in a variety of learning-at-home, parenting, and volunteering activities, regardless of the students' background and achievement. School contacts concerning postsecondary planning, as well as other outreach measures, had a positive influence on parents' reports of college-planning discussions. Analyses also showed that school outreach to parents regarding how to assist students with homework positively and significantly predicted how often parents worked with their children on homework. This study examined individual-level reports from parents concerning their perceptions of school outreach and of their own involvement. Analyses were conducted on data collected from a sample of 11,348 parents of twelfth graders who were participating in the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88). The socioeconomic status, family structure, gender, and race/ethnicity demographics of the sample were similar to the average for all twelfth graders participating in the NELS: 88 study. Results suggest that high schools are able to facilitate parental involvement in student learning, and they may accomplish this goal especially well when the organized activities align with the goals for the student. This study intends to address gaps in research that has generally ignored the relationship between high schools' outreach and families' involvement practices. Some of the findings indicated weak relationships that may be attributable to the NELS: 88 data and could be strengthened in future research through the inclusion of data regarding outreach program quality and frequency of parental involvement. Future research, including randomized controlled trials, should focus on determining causal relationships between family involvement and high school performance indicators.

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