Continual reflection, self assessment, and revision of goals and activities are critical processes of effective partnerships. Evaluation studies link the relationship of family engagement to their children's educational success regardless of the socio-economic status of the family (Henderson & Berla, 1997; Keith, Keith, Troutman, Bickley, Trivette, & Singh, 1993; Chavkin, 1993; Thorkildsen & Stein, 1998).
Additional studies look at how parents stimulate and influence their children's cognitive and social development (Bempechat, 1992) and the effects of homework in the middle grades (Epstein, Herrick, & Coates, 1996). The Center on Families, Communities, Schools, and Children's Learning, Johns Hopkins and Boston University, has developed a framework for evaluating school, family, community partnerships (Epstein, 1995).
A report summarizing the findings from a survey conducted for the National Center for Education Statistics Reports also supports the benefits of family involvement in their children's learning, but identifies various barriers to engagement such as language, cultural differences, safety concerns, and lack of parental education to help with homework (National Center for Education Statistics, 1998). Various survey instruments are used to assist local education agencies in gathering reliable information about the relationship of parent involvement, student behavior, and staff attitudes (Dusewicz & Beyer, 1990; see also the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships' web site at http://www.csos.jhu.edu/p2000/center.htm and the web site of the National PTA at http://www.pta.org).
Schools are effectively addressing the needs of system change and how school-community relationships impact and support sustained school reform efforts (Wagner, 1993; Harvard University Graduate School of Education, 1999). The challenge is understanding how to integrate the systems, both within and outside of school, in support of education. Continuous evaluation of the component parts and the whole is essential as a guide to the process of implementing and refining school reform initiatives (Cicchinelli & Baker, 1999; Council of Chief State School Officers, 1995).
Many studies about the relationships of school, family, and community engagement to student success lack controls necessary for researchers to conclude that student performance is directly impacted (Baker & Soden, 1998). Thus, new research with rigorous, multiple methods and improved data is needed to describe the intermediate outcomes based on the overlapping spheres of influence that lead to and are essential ingredients of improved achievement for all students (Epstein & Sanders, 2000).
Baker, A.J., & Soden, L.M. (1998, April). The challenges of parent involvement research. ERIC/CUE Digest Number 134. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED419030)
Bempechat, J. (1992, Fall/Winter). The role of parent involvement in children's academic achievement. The School Community Journal, 2(2), 31-41.
Chavkin, N.F. (Ed.). (1993). Families and schools in a pluralistic society. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Cicchinelli, L.F., & Barley, Z. (1999). Evaluating for success: Comprehensive school reform: An evaluation guide for districts and schools. Aurora, CO: MCREL.
Council of Chief State School Officers. (1995). Ensuring student success through collaboration project. Interagency data systems for accountability. Issue Brief (On-line). Retrieved October 13, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.ccsso.org/ibspr951.html
Dusewicz, R.A., & Beyer, F.S. (1990). Dimensions of excellence scales: Survey instruments for school improvement. Philadelphia, PA: Research for Better Schools.
Epstein, J.L. (1995, May). School/family/community partnerships: Caring for the families we share. Phi Delta Kappan, 701-712.
Epstein, J.L., Herrick, S.C., & Coates, L. (1996). Effects of summer home learning packets on student achievement in language arts in the middle grades. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 7(4), 383-410.
Epstein, J.L., & Sanders, M.G. (2000). Connecting home, school, and community: New directions for social research. In M. T. Hallinan (Ed.), Handbook of the sociology of education. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Harvard University Graduate School of Education. (1999, March). Full service schools: New practices and policies for children, youth and families. Cambridge, MA: Author.
Henderson, A.T., & Berla, N. (Eds.). (1997). A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Education.
Keith, T.Z., Keith, P.B., Troutman, G.C., Bickley, P.G., trivette, P.S., & Singh, K. (1993). Does parental involvement affect eight-grade student achievement? Structural analysis of national data. School Psychology Review, 22(3), 474-496.
National Center for Education Statistics. (1998, January). Parent involvement in children's education: Efforts by public elementary schools. (Statistical Analysis Report). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
Thorkildsen, R., & Scott Stein, Melanie R. (1998, December). Is parent involvement related to student achievement? Exploring the evidence. PDK International -- Research Bulletin #22 (On-line). Retrieved February 16, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://pdkintl.org/edres/resbul22.htm
Wagner, T. (1993, September). Systemic change: Rethinking the purpose of school. Educational Leadership (On-line), 51(1). Retrieved October 13, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.ascd.org/readingroom/edlead/9309/wagner.html