ERIC Identifier: ED460123
Publication Date: 2001-10-00
Author: Hiatt-Michael, Diana
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
Preparing Teachers To Work with Parents. ERIC Digest.
Outstanding teachers, such as those selected for the Milken Teaching Award or
those who achieve National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
certification, regularly communicate with the parents of their students. These
teachers appreciate the value of home-school communication because experience
has shown that understanding the family is essential to effectively work with
RESEARCH ON PARENT INVOLVEMENT
A review of research from
the past two decades confirms the importance of parent involvement (Epstein,
2001; Hiatt-Michael, 2001). Teachers' efforts to involve families promote the
following: better student attendance; higher graduation rate from high school;
fewer retentions in the same grade; increased levels of parent and student
satisfaction with school; more accurate diagnosis f students for educational
placement in classes; reduced number of negative behavior reports; and, most
notably, higher achievement scores on reading and math tests.
Based upon these findings, National Education Goals and Improving America's
Schools Act [IASA] in 1994 brought the importance of parent involvement to the
forefront in schools and school districts. The eighth goal in National Education
Goals supports "school partnerships that will increase parent involvement and
participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of
children" (U.S. Department of Education, 1994). The IASA requires that districts
that receive more than $500,000 per year must allocate 1% of those funds for
parent involvement activity.
PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS
primary press for parent involvement in teacher education programs, however, is
coming from teachers entering the contemporary classroom, many filled with
students from cultures other than that of the new teacher. These new teachers
report on standard follow-up evaluations from their university that one of the
missing elements in their teacher education programs is working with families.
Until the past few years, most state teacher certification departments did
not require that teacher education programs include standards or courses on
family involvement issues. The Harvard Family Study Report (Shartrand, et al.,
1997) concluded that only 22 states had parent involvement in their
credentialing standards. California is the first and only state that has enacted
legislation mandating prospective teachers and certified educators "to serve as
active partners with parents and guardians in the education of children"
(California Education Code 44291.2, 1993). California enacted this legislation
because parent involvement research indicates higher student achievement and
satisfaction with schools and because professional educators and
parents/guardians may be from diverse cultures. At present, the National Board
for Professional Teaching Standards includes parent involvement as one out of
the eleven generalist standards for all three developmental levels--Early
Childhood, Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence.
Gray (2001) reported a significant increase during the late 1990s in the
number of states that had some administrative or credential statement requiring
that teachers should possess some knowledge and skills related to parent and
community involvement. These state-credentialing bodies added a parent and
community involvement component into teacher education standards or adopted
National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE] standards
that include such standards for working with parents and the community.
SURVEY OF TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS
To determine the
extent of parent involvement issues in K-12 teacher education programs in the
nation, Pepperdine University recently sponsored a representative survey of 147
universities with teacher education programs. The survey tapped department
chairs or deans of private and public institutions in each of the 50 states
(Hiatt-Michael, 2001). The survey raised questions on number of courses, types
ofcourses, topics, and class instructional methods. Of the 96 who responded to
the survey, 7 indicated that parent involvement issues were not included in any
course. Twenty-two replied that the school offered a course devoted to parent
involvement,but this course was not required for K-12 teacher education
students. Such courses were developed for special education or early childhood
teachers or offered as an elective course.
Ninety-three percent of the respondents reported that parent involvement
issues were woven into existing teacher education courses, such as special
education,reading methods, instructional methods, and early childhood education
in that rank order. In states with major portions of the population coming from
diverse cultures, parent involvement is included in cultural diversity and
teaching English-as-a-second-language courses. Universities in Hawaii and
California, locales with a high proportion of diverse ethnic groups, reported
the greatest number of courses that included parent involvement issues.
Respondents replied that the most popular topic is parent conferences. This
finding is important because parent conferences are the most pervasive
home-school communication in schools after the ubiquitous report card. Other
topics, in rank order, included parent concerns, parent newsletters, and working
within the community.
Forty-nine percent of respondents reported that students utilized case
studies in one or more courses. Other instructional methods were research
studies (40%), role-playing (40%), conflict resolution (32%), project creation
(24%), and home surveys (15%).
These research findings are similar to other studies reported by Epstein
(2001). Epstein also indicated that early childhood and special education
receive a disproportionate amount of parent involvement attention within
university preparation and in school practice. In addition, the research
suggested there is a limited percentage of programs that include other forms of
home-school partnership such as utilizing interactive homework with parents,
conducting parent workshops, designing and producing class or school
newsletters, and planning a concerted, year-long program of partnerships. The
research finds, however, that although classroom teachers assert that working
with families is important to the child's positive school outcomes, they receive
little formal training and, thus, possess minimal knowledge and skills to work
IMPACT OF EDUCATION PRESERVICE TEACHERS ON PARENT
Teacher education courses that deal with parent involvement
issues and practices do make a difference in subsequent classroom practice. An
assessment study by Katz and Bauch (1999) on graduates from teacher education
programs at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University indicated that these new
teachers felt prepared and engaged in a diverse number of parent involvement
practices because they had received parent involvement training in their
Infusion of parent involvement practices within all teacher preparation
ourses appears to be the reported ideal but not all professors are equally
committed to parent involvement. Knowledge of subject matter areas, standards,
and testing assume such priority by faculty, who note the emphasis by state and
district administrators on those topics, that the potent component of the
educational process--parent involvement--receives significantly less emphasis.
Work by Kirschenbaum and Hiatt-Michael summarize numerous promising practices
for teachers related to infusing parent involvement into their university
instruction (Hiatt-Michael, 2001). Acquiring skills to promote positive
home-school communication is one of the most critical. These authors recommend
that university faculty as well as teacher supervisors, master teachers, and
administrators utilize case studies and role-playing to familiarize teachers
with the intricacies of a positive parent conference. Prospective and new
teachers should visit master teachers in classrooms to observe and critique
parent conferences. These authors suggest course and classroom activities:
preparing a case study on a family, making a home visit, providing home-school
literacy programs, preparing a classroom newsletter, attending and participating
in a school advisory council, and many others.
According to those outstanding teachers honored by the Milken Foundation or
meeting the generalist standards for the NBPTS, other activities should include
how to effectively gather important information from parents, how to handle
difficult situations,and how to connect with parents on the telephone and in
If teachers do not receive training in teacher education programs prior to
entering the classroom, opportunities to acquire such training within the school
setting are limited. California created the Beginning Teacher Support Activities
[BTSA] to support new teachers, especially those who were entering the field
with an emergency credential. School districts that experience a teacher
shortage may hire new teachers on an emergency credential that requires new
teachers to possess only a bachelor's degree in any area and to pass the
California Test of Basic Skills. The majority of these new teachers are not from
the same ethnic population as the students and the community. Districts must
apply to the state for BTSA funding. Ten to twenty percent of the BTSA program
for new teachers includes teacher professional education to develop skills to
work with families and the surrounding community. The amount and types of
activities vary with the teacher, school and district needs.
Three national hubs are the most promising sources for information, training
and support to new teachers. These hubs are connecting schools, districts and
states into networks of sharing, development, and assessment. These hubs are the
clearinghouses for practices, research studies, and policy statements.Schools
that connect with these hubs showcase promising practices for parent
involvement. The Institute for Responsive Education at Boston University has
researched and promoted parent involvement issues for nearly four decades. This
group has connected educators in the area of family, school community
partnerships across the nation and every continent. The National Network of
Partnership Schools based at John Hopkins University coordinates a network of
schools, districts and state agencies that adhere to the Epstein model of six
types of parent involvement (Epstein, 2001). This group promotes staff
development, the creation of site action plans, and assessment at each site.
Administrators, teachers, and parents at each participating site collaborate on
these activities. At the federal level, Partnership for Family Involvement in
Education within the U.S. Department of Education coordinates a diverse range of
activities. The agency organizes staff development sessions, collects
information on promising practices, and disseminates informative brochures.
Though the benefits of working with families are
documented, teacher education programs and local school districts offer limited
educational opportunities to new teachers. California enacted a law that appears
to have more university support for parent involvement within teacher education
courses than states with only administrative requirements or adoption of NCATE
Standards. In addition, through the funding of BTSA California supports the
training of new teachers at the local site level. In other localities, federal
funding promotes working with families but may not require teacher professional
development. Legislation is needed that supports teacher education to meet
necessary requirements to work effectively with families across all 50 states.
Legislation appears to be the next step to foster teacher professional
development in the area of working with parents.
Epstein, Joyce L. (2001). School, Family and
Community Partnerships: Preparing Educators and Improving Schools. Boulder, CO:
Gray, Scott F. (2001). A Compilation of State Mandates for Home School
Partnership Education in Pre-service Teacher Training Programs. Unpublished
manuscript, Pepperdine University at Culver City, CA.
Hiatt-Michael, Diana (April, 2001). Preparing Pre-service Teachers for
Home-School Partnerships Across the United States. Paper presented at American
Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA.
Hiatt-Michael, Diana, ed. (2001). Promising Practices for Family Involvement
in School. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
Katz, L. and Bauch, Jerrold P. (1999). The Peabody Family Involvement
Initiative:Preparing Pre-service Teachers for Family/school Collaboration.
School Community Journal, no. 9: 49-69.
National Board Professional Teaching Standards http://www.nbpts.org/standards%20
Shartrand, A. M., et al. (1997). New skills for new schools: preparing
Teachers in Family Involvement. Harvard Family Research Project. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard Graduate School of Education.