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Parental involvement in education: a tool for change

Rubén Fernández Alonso, Universidad de Oviedo; Marcelino Cuesta, Universidad de Oviedo; Pamela Woitschach, Universidad de Oviedo; Marcos Álvarez-Díaz, Ministry of Education and Science of the Principality of Asturias
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The style of parental involvement in education has clear effects on children’s academic, cognitive, and socioemotional development. An open, communicative parenting style that encourages autonomy and responsibility in studying is associated with better school outcomes for pupils, whereas styles that are more interventionist and controlling have a negative impact on children’s academic performance. However, can these effects be extended to schools? In this article, it is confirmed that schools whose parents present a more open and communicative style achieve better school outcomes and also, that at these types of schools, differences in performance between pupils are smaller.
Key points
  • 1
       Family involvement in the education process is positive for students, although a detailed analysis enables observation that not all forms of parental involvement at home are necessarily beneficial. Some styles are more effective than others, and some can even be harmful.
  • 2
       It is possible to distinguish two styles of parental involvement in the household: one which is more authoritarian and controlling and another which is more communicative and encourages children’s autonomy. In both cases, mothers are more involved. These profiles present differential effects in pupils’ performance: children from more communicative families show better school performance, quite the contrary to those whose parents adopt a more controlling style.
  • 3
       These parental involvement profiles have repercussions on the school. Schools whose families present a more open and communicative style not only achieve better results but the differences between pupils also tend to decrease, thus generating a more equitable education.
  • 4
       These data open up a pathway with the potential for comprehensive improvement for the schools, since the educational organisations have some leeway for proposing and implementing policies aimed at encouraging profiles of parental involvement that increase the efficacy and equity of the education in these schools.
Variation of results in Spanish language at the schools according to the average score in the “parental communication” index
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The difference in results between the types of school stands at around 20 points in favour of School type 2. This is because the set of parents at School type 2 present higher levels of communication and support. Additionally, it is observed that, at School type 2, the range of scores is lower than at School type 1 (at these schools, the differences in pupils’ results can be as much as triple. In short, the schools where families show a more communicative style of involvement overall not only obtain better outcomes, but are also more equitable from the perspective of the distribution of outcomes.

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