A majority of parents give their child’s public school high marks—and themselves higher marks—in parental involvement activities and effort.

Those whose children attend charter, contract, military or small schools—so-called non-traditional schools—tend to view involvement at their schools more favorably than do parents with children in traditional CPS schools. Parents whose children were in high school reported lower levels of involvement.

The survey was commissioned by Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), a parent advocacy group, to determine how charter schools and regular public schools compared in parent involvement. More than 4,000 parents whose children are enrolled at 92 public schools responded.

“The slight advantage to non-traditional schools could come from the fact that these are chosen schools rather than assigned schools,” says PURE Executive Director Julie Woestehoff.

Parents were asked to rate schools and themselves in four areas: communication between school and home, at-home learning activities, parent volunteering at the school and giving parents a say in school decisions.

Survey results show very high levels of involvement across the board for parents—for example, over 90 percent say they review their child’s schoolwork. Woestehoff acknowledges that this is likely because parents who responded to the survey are those who are more motivated and active in their children’s education.

For Woestehoff, the survey is a first step toward getting the district to take the pulse of its own parent involvement efforts regularly and sponsor workshops for schools on how to bring parents in to volunteer.

Pinpointing the effects of parent involvement on student achievement is elusive, but there need to be more efforts to replicate best practices, she says. “We know schools are in resource deficits, but developing parent involvement is critical.”

To contact Mallika Ahluwalia, call (312) 673-3874 or e-mail mallika@catalyst-chicago.org.

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