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Beating the Odds: Parental Involvement

April 2017


How does parental involvement influence elementary student achievement?


Following an established REL Central research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles to help answer the question. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines. (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response, and we offer them only for your reference. Also, we compiled the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

El Nokali, N. E., Bachman, H. J., & Votruba-Drzal, E. (2010). Parent involvement and children’s academic and social development in elementary school. Child Development, 81(3), 988–1005. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“Data from the NICHD Study of Early Childcare and Youth Development (N= 1364) were used to investigate children's trajectories of academic and social development across first, third and fifth grade. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine within- and between-child associations among maternal- and teacher-reports of parent involvement and children’s standardized achievement scores, social skills, and problem behaviors. Findings suggest that within-child improvements in parent involvement predict declines in problem behaviors and improvements in social skills but do not predict changes in achievement. Between-child analyses demonstrated that children with highly involved parents had enhanced social functioning and fewer behavior problems. Similar patterns of findings emerged for teacher- and parent-reports of parent involvement. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.”

Englund, M. M., Luckner, A. E., Whaley, G. J. L., & Egeland, B. (2004). Children’s achievement in early elementary school: Longitudinal effects of parental involvement, expectations, and quality of assistance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(4), 723–730. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“In this prospective, longitudinal study, the authors examined the relations among parental behaviors, parental expectations, and children’s academic achievement. Participants were 187 low-income children and their mothers, studied from birth of the child through 3rd grade. Mothers’ quality of instruction prior to school entry had significant direct effects on IQ and indirect effects on achievement in 1st and 3rd grades. Parental expectations in 3rd grade had significant direct effects on parental involvement in 3rd grade. Children’s achievement in 1st grade had significant direct effects on parental involvement and expectations in 3rd grade. Parental involvement in 3rd grade had a significant direct effect on achievement in 3rd grade. Results suggest that early parenting factors are important for children’s academic achievement.”

Gonzalez-DeHass, A. R., Willems, P. P., & Doan Holbein, M. F. (2005). Examining the relationship between parental involvement and student motivation. Educational Psychology Review, 17(2), 99–123. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“Parent involvement has a sound research base attesting to the many potential benefits it can offer in education. However, student motivation as an academic outcome of parental involvement has only recently been investigated. The purpose of this article is to show how parent involvement is related to students’ motivation. Studies of students from the elementary school to high school show a beneficial relationship between parental involvement and the following motivational constructs: school engagement, intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, perceived competence, perceived control, self-regulation, mastery goal orientation, and motivation to read. From the synthesis of the parent involvement and motivation literature, we offer potential explanations for their relationship. Directions for areas of continued research are also presented.”

Hayakawa, M., Englund, M. M., Warner-Richter, M., & Reynolds, A. J. (2013). Early parent involvement and school achievement: A longitudinal path analysis. Dialog, 16(1), 200–204. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“The present study examined mechanisms within the longitudinal process whereby early parent involvement in preschool affects student achievement from kindergarten through 6th grade. Participants were 1,531 low-income, mainly African American children and their mothers, from the inner-city Chicago area. Path analysis revealed an interactive process between parent involvement, academic achievement, and children’s motivation. Findings suggest that early parent involvement increases kindergarten achievement, which then affects student motivation in grade 1. Parents of the highly motivated children continued their involvement in later grades. This cycle of involvement, motivation, and achievement was found across the elementary grades (through 6th grade). Participation in CPC was positively associated with jumpstarting parent involvement during the preschool years. Our results support three policy implications: 1) Early parent involvement is critical for the success of children’s education, 2) Continued parent involvement in school across the elementary school years is important for children’s achievement and motivation to succeed in school and 3) Parent involvement, student motivation, and school achievement is a cyclic process that builds upon one another from preschool throughout grade school.”

Jeynes, W. (2012). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of different types of parental involvement programs for urban students. Urban Education, 47(4), 706–742. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“This meta-analysis of 51 studies examines the relationship between various kinds of parental involvement programs and the academic achievement of pre-kindergarten-12th-grade school children. Analyses determined the effect sizes for various parental involvement programs overall and subcategories of involvement. Results indicate a significant relationship between parental involvement programs overall and academic achievement, both for younger (preelementary and elementary school) and older (secondary school) students as well as for four types of parental involvement programs. Parental involvement programs, as a whole, were associated with higher academic achievement by .3 of a standard deviation unit. The significance of the results is discussed.”

Lee, J.-S., & Bowen, N. K. (2006). Parent involvement, cultural capital, and the achievement gap among elementary school children. American Educational Research Journal, 43(2), 193–218. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“This study examined the level and impact of five types of parent involvement on elementary school children’s academic achievement by race/ethnicity, poverty, and parent educational attainment. The sample comprised 415 third through fifth graders who completed the Elementary School Success Profile. Hypotheses from Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital were assessed with t tests, chi-square statistics, and hierarchical regressions. Consistent with the theory, parents with different demographic characteristics exhibited different types of involvement, and the types of involvement exhibited by parents from dominant groups had the strongest association with achievement. However, contrary to theoretical expectations, members of dominant and nondominant groups benefited similarly from certain types of involvement and differently from others. Implications for research and practice are discussed.”

Wilder, S. (2014). Effects of parental involvement on academic achievement: A meta-synthesis. Educational Review, 66(3), 377–397. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“The impact of parental involvement on student academic achievement has been recognized by teachers, administrators, and policy-makers who consider parental involvement to be one of the integral parts of new educational reforms and initiatives. This study synthesized the results of nine meta-analyses that examined this impact and it identified generalizable findings across these studies. The results indicated that the relationship between parental involvement and academic achievement was positive, regardless of a definition of parental involvement or measure of achievement. Furthermore, the findings revealed that this relationship was strongest if parental involvement was defined as parental expectations for academic achievement of their children. However, the impact of parental involvement on student academic achievement was weakest if parental involvement was defined as homework assistance. Finally, the relationship between parental involvement and academic achievement was found to be consistent across different grade levels and ethnic groups. However, the strength of that relationship varied based on the type of assessment used to measure student achievement.”

Zhang, D., Hsu, H.-Y., Kwok, O.-M., Benz, M., & Bowman-Perrott, L. (2011). The impact of basic-level parent engagements on student achievement: Patterns associated with race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES). Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 22(1), 28–39. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“Strong empirical evidence exists in general education that links parent involvement to student academic achievement, but such evidence is lacking in special education. Moreover, most prior research investigated parent involvement as a broadly defined term that included various types of parent engagements. As a result, it is difficult to estimate the effect of some specific parent engagements. Using data from the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS), this study examined influences of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status on basic-level parent engagements in school and home settings (i.e., participation in school activities, talking to their child about his/her experiences in school, and expectations for the child to graduate from high school) and the relationship of these engagements to student achievement. Engagement at home was found to have a positive impact on student achievement, but participation in school activities did not significantly affect student achievement. Discussion and implications of these findings, and recommendations for future research are provided.”


Keywords and Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Parental involvement AND student achievement AND elementary OR K–12

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Insititute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and Google.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the Publication: References and resources published between 2004 and 2017 were included in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority was given to ERIC.
  • Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were used in the review and selection of the references: (a) currency of available data; (b) study types–randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, etc.; (c) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected samples, etc.), study duration, and so forth.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Central Region (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Central at Marzano Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Central under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0005, administered by Marzano Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.