OA New Wave of Evidence
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A New Wave of Evidence

Conducted by: Anne T. Henderson and Karen L. Mapp, National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory

Released: 2002 (Download pdf)

Overview: This research synthesis of 51 research studies published from 1995 to 2002, examines the impact of different family and community connections on student achievement. The synthesis shows that for parent involvement to have an impact on achievement, schools must link parent activities to student learning goals and be respectful of differences among families.

Key Findings:
About Impact - The evidence is consistent, positive, and convincing: many forms of family and community involvement influence student achievement at all ages.

Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home are linked to improved student achievement.

  • The more families support their children’s learning and educational progress, both in quantity and over time, the more their children tend to do well in school and continue their education.
  • Families of all cultural backgrounds, education, and income levels can, and often do, have a positive influence on their children’s learning.
  • Family and community involvement that is linked to student learning has a greater effect on achievement than more general forms of involvement.

About Making Connections – When programs and initiatives focus on building respectful and trusting relationships among school staff, families, and community members, they are more effective in creating and sustaining connections that support student achievement.

  • Programs that successfully connect with families and community invite involvement, are welcoming, and address specific parental and community needs.
  • Parent involvement programs that are effective in engaging diverse families recognize cultural and class differences, address needs and build on strengths.
  • Effective connections embrace a philosophy of partnership where power is shared – the responsibility for children’s educational development is a collaborative enterprise among parents, school staff, and community members.
  • Organized initiatives to build parent and community leadership aimed at improving low-performing schools are growing and leading to promising results in low-income urban areas and the rural South.
  • Current policy and practice responses do not support the epidemic levels of trauma symptoms among children and youth. In particular, children and youth of color, sexual minority youth, and youth at increased risk for suicide have higher rates of trauma. Exposure to trauma is particularly high for youth involved in public systems: mental health, child welfare and juvenile justice.
  • Much of the emerging knowledge base about trauma, intervention and prevention are absent in current children’s mental health and related policies.
  • Some policies serve to undermine tribal, state and local efforts to develop and sustain trauma-informed practices.

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