- A new study by the American Institutes for Research finds that 87% of U.S. parents regularly attend general public school or PTA meetings, while 75% attend parent-teacher conferences; at private schools, those percentages rise to 86% and 89% respectively.
- A wider gap was found to exist in the number of parents who participate in school fundraising: 57% of public school parents do, while 82% of private school parents raise money.
- At the same time, a significant gap exists between private school parents and public school parents in terms of school satisfaction, with 80% of private school parents reporting that they were "very satisfied" with their child's schools, as opposed to just 57% of public school parents.
Increasing parent engagement is always good for school leaders to consider, since it's long been proven to be a successful tool for improving student performance. Recently, the pressure to get parents involved has grown alongside increased accountability and discussion of educational outcomes. Districts have experimented with new approaches, even including paying parents to participate.
A 2012 report from the nonprofit research organization Child Trends shows that family engagement is crucial to student achievement and can also alleviate or even prevent behavioral problems. For school systems with ELL populations, it's important to effectively relay information to non-English-speaking parents and make dedicated efforts to keep them involved.
The aggressive approach unfolding in North Carolina's Guilford County Schools makes "parent volunteer liaisons" eligible for payouts of up to $150 a month. That's already helped the district reach more parents. Others have tried scheduling later parent-teacher conference times, to facilitate conversations at hours that are more accessible to working parents. Still others have even tried out video and virtual conferences, using free platforms like Skype. Academic Parent-Teacher Teams have also continued to gain popularity. They now reportedly take place in 250 U.S. schools.