4 evidence-based ways parents improve student achievement

In recent years, the push for educators to base teaching policies and practices in evidence has been growing stronger. Topics like seat time, retention, class size, and learning styles have all come under scrutiny because research indicates they don’t influence student achievement as much as we’d like. As the new school year begins, it’s worth taking a look at the evidence in a commonly overlooked area—parent involvement—so we can maximize what matters for student achievement.

It’s widely accepted that students whose parents are involved in their education do better in school. In fact, that link is so strong that districts often have policies to encourage parental involvement. The good news is that it’s difficult to find a way parents engage with schools that has a harmful effect on students, but there are four things parents can do that have a greater impact on achievement than anything else: parent tutoring, supporting homework, communicating expectations about learning, and academic socialization.

1. Encourage parents to actively teach their students
We often assume all good teaching comes from teachers, but parents can be great teachers too. Research into reading acquisition found that training parents to teach their children to read was better than teaching parents to listen to their children read aloud or having parents read aloud to their children. An earlier study in 2006 showed similar results for every content area and age level, no matter how long the tutoring sessions were or what kind of instruction or modeling was provided to the parents.…Read More

Is it time to ditch homework for good?

Homework is one of those topics that consistently baffles teachers. Every few years, new research comes out arguing the merits or pitfalls of assigning homework. Generally, I think that any teacher could make the case for or against assigning homework, depending on the circumstance.

I assign homework every night in my class, except for the weekends; that time is for family. I don’t assign much. I usually tell kids and parents that if you’re taking over 30 minutes to finish the assignment, pack it up and ask me for help the next day. But I am thinking of ditching homework altogether. Jo Boaler and other teachers have convinced me that homework can do more damage than good.

But what’s so bad about homework? I did lots of homework growing up. I’d like to think that there is a connection between hard work and results. The homework I completed in my youth probably has something to do with me being a hard worker. Besides, high school and college classes give lots of homework. If I don’t give my students homework in 7th grade, am I setting them up for failure in their future advanced courses?…Read More