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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Heather Weiss and M. Elena Lopez of Harvard Family Research Project sent the following letter in response to the Los Angeles Times article “Parents’ Involvement Not Key to Student Progress, Study Finds,” published on October 26, 2005. Purchase a copy of this article from the Los Angeles Times.


To the Editor:

Your article, “Parents’ Involvement Not Key to Student Progress,” is misleading. The article states that 40% of students in the studied schools are still learning English, and presumably their parents are not proficient English speakers as well. We do not have a context to understand why the types and levels of parent involvement were less effective than other factors. For example, does the study capture whether the schools provide high quality parent involvement training and clearly communicate with parents in their native language so that they can make a difference in their children's learning? Research shows that schools are often condescending in their attitudes toward low-income, minority families, alienating them. This deprives parents of the information that enables them to provide the right kind of educational support for their children. The EdSource findings quoted in the article must also be seen in light of a broad evidence base that involvement efforts of all families can and do make a difference in their children's learning and development. In our own longitudinal research, for example, family involvement in kindergarten positively predicts literacy achievement in fifth grade for children from low-income White, African American, and Latino families.

Read also the response of the National PTA at

Supporting Research From Harvard Family Research Project's School Transition Study

Dearing, E., McCartney, K., Weiss, H. B., Kreider, H., & Simpkins, S. (2004). The promotive effects of family educational involvement for low-income children’s literacy: How and for whom does involvement matter? Journal of School Psychology, 42, 445–460.

Weiss, H. B., Dearing, E., Mayer, E., Kreider, H., & McCartney, K. (2005). Family educational involvement: Who can afford it and what does it afford? In C. R. Cooper, C. T. García Coll, W. T. Bartko, H. M. Davis & C. Chatman (Eds.), Developmental pathways through middle childhood: Rethinking context and diversity as resources. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Related Resources

A bibliography compiled by the Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) on the relationship of family involvement and student achievement

Adolescence: Are Parents Relevant to Students' High School Achievement and Post-Secondary Attainment?
A research digest published by FINE and written by Evanthia Patrikakou, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Mid-Atlantic Laboratory for Student Success

Parent Involvement and the Social and Academic Competencies of Urban Kindergarten Children
A research digest published by FINE and written by Christine McWayne and Marissa Owsianik, New York University

The Effects of Comprehensive Parent Engagement on Student Learning Outcomes
A paper published by FINE and written by Sam Redding, Janis Langdon, Joseph Meyer, and Pamela Sheley, Academic Development Institute

Parental Involvement and Secondary School Student Educational Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis
An article from The Evaluation Exchange written by William Jeynes, California State University at Long Beach

Free. Available online only.

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project