Parental Engagement is the involvement of parents in supporting their children’s academic learning.

It includes general approaches which encourage parents to support their children;

and the involvement of parents in their children learning activities.

Research shows that parental engagement in schools is closely linked to better student behavior, higher academic achievement, and enhanced social skills. Parent engagement also makes it more likely that children and adolescents will avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as sexual risky behaviors, tobacco and alcohol, and other drug use.

COVID 19 has caused many in education to re-imagine the way we deliver education during and after any type of disruptive event or situation. The reality is there is no substitute for a great relationship and collaboration between parents and schools in providing the best education possible for our children. There is a need during and beyond the COVID 19 to strengthen that collaboration.

Lesson Learned: We are all aware that the outbreak of COVID 19 had a drastic impact on some aspects of education and the collaboration with parents and schools. The importance of having a seamless educational system that is supportive of the educational needs of our children is extremely important regardless of the circumstances and should be a standard way of doing business.



“The purpose of school is not to raise test scores, but rather to prepare our young children to be successful in life. It starts with home life as early as possible.”

Comer is best known for establishing the Comer School Development Program in 1968, which is an institute that promotes the collaboration of parents, educators and communities to improve the academic trajectories of their children. With a strong foundation in developmental science, psychiatry and public health, Dr. Comer understands the social determinants of academic achievement and therefore emphasizes the importance of strong families in ensuring and preparing students for school success. Dr. Comer dedicates his research to understanding and identifying the developmental factors related to academic ability. In other words, Dr. Comer has identified the importance of strong, nurturing families on the development of children, especially those living in areas affected by poverty.

Selected articles: Dr. Comer Emphasizes Development of the Whole Child

Suggested reading: What I Learned In School: Reflections on Race, Child Development, and School Reform (2009)


Focus on what goes on at home! Engage parents/families while they have their children when they are not in school.”

Dr. Mapp is senior lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the faculty director of the Education Policy and Management master’s program. Dr. Mapp focuses her research on creating and strengthening family, community, and school partnerships in order to increase student achievement.

Dr. Mapp has also identified that when schools conduct home visits, students show a 20% decline in absences at school and those children are also more likely to read at or above grade level than their peers without home visits. Mapp, as a consultant on family engagement to the U.S. Department of Education, has established a framework for family-school partnerships. Within this framework, she has identified key factors of strong family-school partnerships:

Key Findings:

Dr. Mapp, through her research, has identified that increased family engagement in schools is strongly associated with:

  • Faster rates of literacy acquisition among children
  • Increased rates of going on to secondary education among youth
  • Increased attendance rates among students
  • Decreased rates of school dropout among youth

Suggestions for schools:

  • Linked to learning – initiatives must be aligned with school and district achievement goals and connect parents to the teaching and learning goals for the students.
  • Relational – a major focus of the initiative is on building respectful and trusting relationships between families and district, school and program staff.
  • Developmental – the initiatives focus not only on providing a service but also on building the intellectual, social, and human capital of stakeholders engaged in the program.
  • Collective/Collaborative – learning is conducted in group versus individual settings and focused on building strong networks and learning communities.

“No Child Left Behind talks about parental involvement in terms of communication and accountability. But, too often, teacher-parent communication is problem-driven. If parents could receive more information about their children’s strengths and about curriculum content, they would be better equipped to offer effective guidance and to reinforce classroom learning in real world situations.”

Dr. Hill is a developmental psychologist and focuses her research on the ways in which race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status affect parenting beliefs and behaviors across different racial and ethnic groups. In her research, she has identified the ways in which parent practices have different impacts on child mental health and behavior depending on demographic differences. In a recent meta-analysis, Dr. Hill examined strategies that best promote academic achievement among middle schoolers, who historically show lower engagement and declines in academics performance.

Key Findings:

Across 50 studies, parental involvement was positively associated with achievement, with the exception of parental help with homework. Involvement that reflected academic socialization had the strongest positive association with achievement. Academic socialization includes “communicating parental expectations for education and its value or utility, linking school-work to current events, fostering educational and occupational aspirations, discussing learning strategies with children, and making preparations and plans for the future.


”The way schools care about children is reflected in the way schools care about the children’s families. If educators view children simply as students, they are likely to see the family as separate from the school. That is, the family is expected to do its job and leave the education of children to the schools. If educators view students as children, they are likely to see both the family and the community as partners with the school in children’s education and development.”

Dr. Epstein is the Director of both the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships and the National Network of Partnership Schools, as well as a professor of education and sociology at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Epstein’s research focuses on school leadership, as well as school programming and its effects on family and community involvement as well as academic achievement.

Dr. Epstein is perhaps most famous for her heavily cited framework on the six types of parent involvement.

  • Parenting: Support the home environment and strengthen families so as to support students at school.
  • Communicating: Create effective modes of school-to-home and home-to-school communications regarding school programs and child progress.
  • Volunteering: Recruit parents to support school endeavors.
  • Home: Share information regarding ideas for learning at home, as well what is going on in the classroom to support family-school alignment regarding educational endeavors.
  • Decision Making: Empower parents to be leaders, and involve them in school decision-making.
  • Collaborating with Community: Identify and integrate resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.

“We have 50 years of research showing that what families do matters. Whether it’s loving school, college access, good attendance, or academic success, family engagement has positive correlations with all sorts of indicators.”

Associate Professor at Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University Northridge. Her research interests include parent/family engagement in education, school-community partnerships, as well as social context of urban education. In her heavily cited work “Portraits of Leadership for Family Engagement in Urban Schools,” Dr. Auerbach details the qualities of effective leadership for engaging families in their child’s education.

Key Findings of this Qualitative Study:

Strong Belief in the Importance Parent Engagement: Effective school leaders “were convinced that meaningful family engagement was not only desirable, but possible in their schools, and that it was up to them to take proactive steps to achieve it.”

Proactive Roles:

The school leaders who were most likely to engage parents were also “more likely to be directly involved in initiating, planning, and implementing substantive activities with families, rather than appearing at events as figureheads and delegating the organization of activities to parent center staff”. Doing the Right Thing: A Social Justice Orientation: Effective leaders were motivated by an ethical commitment to social justice.

Suggested Reading:

School Leadership for Authentic Family and Community Partnerships: Research Perspectives for Transforming Practice With the apparent success of parent engagement at increasing student achievement, school leaders are increasingly encouraged to pursue meaningful alliances with communities and families. However, due to cultural barriers and other challenges, school leaders are often left without the skills, tools and means to support authentic alliances. In order to establish socially-just schools, where parents are not only engaged but also leaders within the school community, school leaders must seek meaningful community-school partnerships. This book gathers the research surrounding school leadership and best practices regarding enthusing meaningful family-school collaboration.


Dr. Jeynes is Professor of Education at California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Jeynes has published over 100 academic articles with a broad range of focus, but is particularly dedicated to parent engagement programming. Recently, Dr. Jeynes synthesized over 51 empirical studies focused on the efficacy of school-based parent involvement programs. In doing so, Dr. Jeynes evaluated the effectiveness of parent involvement programs, as well as what components of programs tend to be most effective at increasing student achievement.

Key Findings of Meta-Analysis:

Parental involvement programs are associated with higher student achievement. Of the different components within parent engagement programming studied in the meta-analysis, the components most effective at improving student academic achievement were programs that involved teacher-parent partnerships, teacher-parent communication, checking homework and shared reading.

Suggested Reading:

Parental Involvement and Academic Success (2010)