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Citation:Wimberly, G. L., & Noeth, R. J. (2004). Schools involving parents in early postsecondary planning. Washington, DC: American College Testing Program (ACT).

The purpose of this report is to promote parent involvement in planning for and transitioning to college. The first of two studies explored how parents influence students' planning activities across grades eight through ten. The second study examined senior students' postsecondary planning. The report also describes programs and practices that schools use to deliver educational planning information to parents effectively. Results of the studies indicated that most 8th- through 10th-grade students said their mothers and fathers were very helpful with future education exploration (55% to 92%). African American and Hispanic high school seniors indicated that their mothers (84%) and fathers (62%) were somewhat or very helpful in their college planning decisions. Students reported their mothers, more than any other person, as being very helpful. Survey results indicated that parents had a strong influence on planning, but focus group results suggested that parents often lacked the tools and knowledge necessary to help students through the postsecondary planning process. Parents contributed primarily through their motivation, good intentions, and encouragement. Methods for data collection included surveys and focus groups with students. Students from Study 1 were 8th through 10th graders from 15 schools in six districts. Students from Study 2 were African American and Hispanic college-bound seniors who came from 23 urban high schools in five large districts. The report provides five recommendations. Overall, districts should implement plans for involving parents in the postsecondary planning process, including informing them about the process and supporting their involvement at key stages. Beginning with middle school, parents should be included in the selection of their children's courses and programs of study. Districts should establish comprehensive programs to help parents understand assessment results and information and to explain the educational and postsecondary planning process to parents. Schools should help parents understand the various types of financial aid available for postsecondary education.

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