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When it comes to parent involvement, income matters

Anyone who’s ever worked in schools knows that parent involvement is key to student success.

Educators also have seen first-hand the strong relationship between family income levels and the ability of parents to engage with their child’s school.

Low-income families who support themselves on hourly wages with few options for paid time off often have no choice but to miss out on school events. And parents who work irregular shifts often don’t have the chance to engage with their children or their teachers about school work.

We’ve heard stories—and we have the evidence. Anecdotally speaking. But do the numbers bear this out?

Absolutely, says Sarah D. Sparks in an Education Week video report exploring the connection between income and parent engagement. Education Week polled low-income (those who make under $30,000 per year) and high-income (those who make more than $75,000 per year) parents to find out how engaged they were in their kids’ schools.

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Here’s a few key takeaways from the research:

  • While only a quarter of low-income parents said they volunteer at their children’s schools, nearly half of high-income parents said they did.
  • High-income parents attended nearly double the amount of school meetings per year as low-income parents did.
  • 18 percent of parents said they moved so their child could attend a specific school, but around 50 percent of those parents made more than $75,000 per year.

For more on the connection between income and parent engagement, check out the full video report below:

Education Week’s research is clear: Engagement matters—but many disadvantaged families are unable to fully participate in their students’ education. Now, more than ever, school districts need to meet low-income families where they are—whether it’s through alternative meeting hours, home visits, or the use of new technology and social media tools, to strengthen the connection between home and school.

What programs do you support to help low-income parents get involved in their children’s education? Are you doing this at all? Tell us in the comments.