Parent involvement and academic achievement reviewed quantitatively

A recent meta-analysis published in Educational Research Review examined the effects of parental involvement on pupil achievement.

The authors looked at 5,000 studies and found 37 that met their selection criteria. The selected studies included more than 80,000 pupils and their families.

The included studies had to:

  • Take place between kindergarten (Year 1) and 12th grade (Year 13).
  • Be published between 2000 and 2013.
  • Report parent participation in their children’s education, but not as part of a designated programme.
  • Examine the effects of parent involvement on academic achievement quantitatively. 

Because each study looked at different variables affecting achievement outcomes, as well as different populations affected, the authors broke down each study into independent analytical units and calculated 108 effect sizes for comparison.

They found that parental expectations had the largest influence on children’s academic achievement, followed by discussing school activities with children and helping them develop reading habits. Homework supervision and participation in school activities demonstrated the least effect.

Source: Parental involvement on student academic achievement: a meta-analysis (2015), Educational Research Review

Predicting success for pupils with disabilities

A systematic review in Review of Educational Research uses meta-analysis to consider in-school predictors of post-school success for pupils with disabilities. The examined predictors of success include various aspects of education, employment, and independent living.

The study gathered data on 16,957 individuals from 35 sources published between 1984 and 2010. Analysis revealed a small but significant overall association between the in-school predictors and post-school outcomes.

The authors reported that their findings “showed positive relationships between predictors and outcomes in almost all cases” and that although the effects were small, they were meaningful and robust.

More specifically, the authors highlighted that their analysis showed positive effects for widely studied areas (such as vocational education, inclusive classrooms, and paid work) and understudied areas (such as Student-focused Planning and Parent Involvement, and interagency collaboration).

The paper includes discussion of implications for practice and suggested directions for future research.

Source: What works, when, for whom, and with whom: a meta-analytic review of predictors of postsecondary success for students with disabilities (2015), Review of Educational Research

One tongue or two?

Concerns that a multilingual learning environment may confuse students and harm their learning are unfounded, according to a meta-analysis by researchers at the University of Luxembourg.

The review investigated the effectiveness of bilingual programmes for academic achievement in language-minority children in Europe. Similar reviews have been conducted in North America, but not previously in Europe.

The meta-analysis combined data from five European studies and revealed a small positive effect (g=0.23) on academic achievement, including reading, for language-minority children educated bilingually compared with those who experience submersion programmes (which use only the majority language).

The authors say that their analysis supports the importance of bilingual education. They note that the small number of included studies limit the extent to which their findings could be generalised to other settings. They call for further studies and closer attention to the size of the effects.

Effect sizes in the analysis are in line with previous meta-analyses in the United States, such as those of Slavin and Cheung, which also found small positive effects in support of bilingual programmes when compared with monolingual education.

Source: A meta-analysis on the effectiveness of bilingual programs in Europe (2014), Review of Educational Research

Phonics works, but other approaches need more research

A new meta-analysis published online in PLoS ONE has concluded that phonics is the only approach whose effectiveness on reading and spelling performance in children and adolescents with reading difficulties has been proven.

The research aimed to determine the effectiveness of a number of different treatment approaches for improving the literacy skills of children and adolescents with reading problems. A total of 22 studies met the search criteria, and these assessed a number of approaches: phonemic awareness instruction, phonics instruction, reading fluency training, reading comprehension training, auditory training, medical treatment, and coloured overlays.

The analysis concluded that teaching phonics is the only approach proven to have a statistically significant effect on reading and spelling performance. However, this approach was also the most intensively investigated, and therefore the only one where enough trials had been conducted to provide a reliable answer.

The Education Elf blog provides further analysis of this research.

Source: Effectiveness of Treatment Approaches for Children and Adolescents with Reading Disabilities: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (2014), PLoS ONE.

Bullying linked to poor parenting

new article published in Child Abuse & Neglect explores the link between childhood bullying and parenting. It found that both victims and bully/victims (those who bully and are victims of bullying) were more likely to be exposed to negative parenting behaviour, including abuse and neglect. The effects were generally small-to-moderate for victims but moderate for bully/victims. Although parental involvement, support, and high supervision decrease the chances of children being involved in bullying behaviour, for victims, overprotection increased the risk.

A number of possible explanations are given. Some mistreated and abused children may be submissive at home to maintain their safety, or they may learn that they are powerless, have less confidence, and become less able to assert themselves. On the other hand, some mistreated children display heightened levels of aggression, which suggests that they may be more inclined to bully. Most studies did not differentiate cause and effect, so it could be that a bullied child may be difficult and this might lead to poor parenting.

Seventy studies met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis, with a final sample of over 200,000 children and young people aged 4–25. The authors’ recommendations include intervention programmes that target children who are exposed to harsh or abusive parenting, and parental training programmes to strengthen supportive involvement and warm and affectionate parenting.

Source: Parenting Behavior and the Risk of Becoming a Victim and a Bully/Victim: A Meta-analysis Study (2013), Child Abuse & Neglect

The Sesame Street effect

“Count von Count, Sesame Street’s friendly mathematical vampire, is obsessed with a new number: 0.29”, says Dr Charlotte Cole, Senior Vice President of Global Education at Sesame Workshop. She was responding to a new article in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology which found that the impact of Sesame Street is significant and positive, with an effect size of 0.292.

The authors conducted a meta-analysis examining the effects of children’s exposure to international co-productions of Sesame Street, synthesising the results of 24 studies, conducted with over 10,000 children in 15 countries. The results indicated significant positive effects of watching the programme, aggregated across learning outcomes, and within three outcome categories: cognitive outcomes, including literacy and numeracy; learning about the world, including health and safety knowledge; and social reasoning and respect for others.

Source: Effects of Sesame Street: A Meta-analysis of Children’s Learning in 15 Countries (2013), Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 34(3).