Parental Educational Involvement in High School: Practice, Policy, and Implications for Low-Income and Minority Youth

Elizabeth Wehrspann, Purdue University


Parental educational involvement has become a key factor in policies and practice aimed at improving academic achievement, particularly for low-income and racial/ethnic minority youth. While much previous work has explored parental educational involvement for younger children, few consistent findings have emerged regarding parental educational involvement strategies with adolescents. Further, extant literature has shown mixed findings regarding the effectiveness of parents’ school choice (i.e. selecting a school regardless of geographic location) for increasing parents’ educational involvement and social capital more broadly. This dissertation addressed these findings in the literature by using two large nationally representative datasets – the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 and the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 – to explore the facets of parental educational involvement that are associated with academic achievement and educational attainment, as well as the role of school choice in increasing parents’ social capital. Findings from the first study suggested that academic socialization may be the most beneficial form of parental educational involvement, particularly for white and Hispanic/Latino adolescents, whereas school outreach to parents was beneficial particularly for Asian American and African American adolescents. Adolescent sex, race, and SES were also salient predictors of academic outcomes. Findings of the second study revealed an overall positive link between social capital (including parental educational involvement, intergenerational closure, and perceived inclusion in decision-making) and academic outcomes. Contrary to expectation, there was little evidence of differences in social capital for parents of adolescents who transitioned schools by choice. Implications for future research, practice, and policy are discussed.




Dotterer, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Social research|Education

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