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Citation:Marcon, R. A. (1999). Impact of parent involvement on children's development and academic performance: A three-cohort study. Paper presented at the Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, Savannah, GA. ED427880.

This study examines whether a threshold of parent involvement exists that leads to positive outcomes for pre-school children. The results of the study indicated that children of highly involved parents showed significantly higher levels of development in communication, daily living and motor skills, with a trend toward higher social development. Overall grade point averages were significantly higher for the high involvement group, and mastery of basic skills in verbal and social/work habits was also greater. The researcher concludes that increased parent involvement had a positive impact on preschoolersÕ early development and mastery of basic skills needed for future success in school. The researcher notes that a threshold for parent involvement seems to be very low, since the amount of involvement discussed was minimal, such as participating in a parent-teacher conference. The results also indicated that parents of children in Head Start programs were significantly more involved than parents of children attending pre-Kindergarten programs, that the involvement of poorer families (defined by reduced and free lunch criteria) was not significantly different from that of more affluent families, that parents of boys were as likely as parents of girls to be involved, and that single-parent families were as likely to be involved as two-parent families. Data for the study were collected in 49 schools from 62 teachers of 708 randomly selected pre-schoolers enrolled in pre-kindergarten or Head Start in a major urban school system. Three cohorts of preschool children participated in the study, most from low-income, single-parent families. The Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scale-Classroom Edition was used as a standardized measure of early child development, and the districtÕs Early Childhood Progress Report was used to assess mastery in basic skills, from which an overall grade point average was calculated. Teachers completed these instruments for each child at the end of the school year. Levels of parent involvement were determined by interviewing teachers on the extent of contact they had with each parent using a global measure (yes/no) of parent involvement. Types of parent contact included parent-teacher conferences, home visits by teacher, extended class visits by parent, and parental help with class activity. The researcher states that the mechanics of how parent involvement impacted child outcomes remain unclear, making it difficult to rule out the effect that teacher perceptions might have on the relationship between parent involvement and child outcomes. For instance, teachers might have given higher ratings to children as a result of familiarity with parents who appeared to be interested in their childÕs education, or parental interest may have influenced the teacherÕs willingness to work with a child, resulting in an enriched experience for that child. The perceptual nature of the data collection instruments, particularly the teacher interviews on parent contact, is a limitation of this study, in addition to typical scales limitations such as consistency and ceiling problems. This study suggests that getting schools and parents to work together even in small activities may have an impact on young childrenÕs development and academic performance.

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