Parental Involvement and Student Outcomes in the Context of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
This dissertation is comprised of three essays (in addition to the introduction and conclusion) examining factors associated with parental involvement in education. The essays are placed in the context of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, which had stringent parental involvement guidelines for Title I schools. These three analytic chapters empirically analyze school choice awareness and participation, household changes and involvement in school activities, and parent-school engagement and student outcomes. The first analytic chapter examines parental education and the likelihood of being aware of and participating in public school choice. This analysis finds that parents in schools mandated to offer choice by NCLB have low awareness that they have a choice, and that more educated parents are no more aware of choice than less educated parents. Regarding the exercising of school choice, children of highly educated mothers are found to be more likely to be in elementary schools of choice as compared to children of less educated mothers, particularly in elementary school. The second analytic chapter examines household family structure changes and their association with changes in involvement in educational activities at home and at school during elementary school. Specifically, how is the addition or loss of a household adult or the marriage or divorce of a primary caregiver related to changes in involvement? The majority of household changes involving residents and marital status are found to be associated with a decrease or no change in household involvement; however, the addition of a parent/guardian figure is associated with increased involvement in educational activities at home. The third analytic chapter examines parent-school engagement and student academic and behavioral outcomes. This analysis finds that specific school outreach activities, including providing parenting workshops and sending home progress reports, have positive implications for student outcomes. Parent-school engagement activities were found be associated with academic and behavioral outcomes similarly. These three descriptive essays detail the characteristics of parental involvement and identify three potential areas of focus for future policymakers and practitioners, including (1) ensuring that less educated parents are properly informed about their school choice options, (2) monitoring sensitive periods of household transitions to maintain parental involvement, and (3) performing school outreach to keep parents informed of their student's progress and engaged with the school.