New ed-tech service aims to boost parent engagement

Promethean and Channel One brought the National PTA into the collaboration after the parent group expressed strong desire to have hard research demonstrating the impact of parent engagement on student achievement, Marshall said.

“I’m hands off; I want it completely clean and independent of what we’re doing,” he said of the research.

The “No. 1 question” the study aims to answer is whether this program will generate more dialogue between parents and children, said National PTA President Betsy Landers.

From there, the group will collect a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to determine whether that dialogue is meaningful, and how it impacts children.

Landers said decades of research have shown that parent engagement improves children’s learning success.

It is essential to “link conversations at home with the learning happening at school,” she said.

Landers raised a current-events example: Parents using Parent Connection would know if their children watched a video of the bullied bus monitor, and could see questions that the teacher covered at school.

“Parent Connection is just another tool,” Landers said. “It’s an exciting tool because it amps up the ability to converse about current events, and to know what [kids] are doing in real time.”

The Parent Connection will launch in 8,000 San Diego classrooms, in grades three through eight.

San Diego Unified School District, with 114,000 students, is investing more than $300 million on educational technology as part of its five year “i21” initiative—and district officials see this service as helping with student engagement.

“We know that an active and involved parent is one of the No. 1 attributes to improving student achievement,” said Bernie Rhinerson, the district’s chief of staff.

Marshall conceded that the program depends on parents having internet access in order to log on and see their children’s results.

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