Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Capturing Information about the Amount and Quality of Parent Involvement in Preschool

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 10:15 AM
Merrick I (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Erika Gaylor, Donna Spiker, Kate Ferguson and Xin Wei, SRI International
We will present on parent involvement in a preschool program being implemented in a large urban area in the Midwest. The program model includes comprehensive family services led by a parent resource teacher and school-community liaisons that promote parent involvement in their child’s preschool education and their ability to implement early learning activities at home. The program model is a school-wide approach and aims to promote positive academic and social outcomes for children as well as lead to positive outcomes for parents (e.g., gains in their own education and employment trajectories). We hypothesized that because of the intervention’s emphasis on parent involvement and support through staff and other resources, parents whose children attended the intervention sites for preschool would show greater involvement in their children’s school in preschool and in kindergarten and would report more frequent parenting practices that support early learning at home compared with parents whose children were enrolled in the comparison preschool programs.

Using a quasi-experimental design, we will compare patterns of parent involvement in schools implementing the intervention model to parent involvement in matched-comparison schools. Information on parent involvement in preschool was collected from multiple sources: self-report on a parent survey; items assessing the frequency of parent involvement across classrooms/school by teacher-report on a teacher survey completed in the spring of the preschool year (and then again in the spring of kindergarten year); and teachers completing logs on individual parent’s involvement at the school. The parent survey collects information about family and child demographics (e.g., poverty, parent education level, family structure, child’s health) and use of other services (e.g., home visiting, WIC). Several items ask about parent involvement in school activities and in home learning activities. A shorter version of the parent survey is also collected when the children are in kindergarten.

The sample included 49 schools [26 intervention; 23 comparison] and approximately 2,000 preschool children and their parents. We will present data on a subset of parents and their children who were four years old in fall 2012, were enrolled for one year in preschool either at an intervention school or a comparison school, and entered kindergarten in fall 2013 and had parent survey data during preschool and kindergarten.

The successes and challenges of collecting parent involvement data will be discussed. The teacher survey had the least missing data across the intervention and comparison groups (77% of teachers in both the intervention and comparison groups completed the survey during spring of the preschool year) and was potentially the least biased source of reporting. Preliminary data analyses demonstrated greater levels of parent involvement in the intervention sites during preschool as reported by teachers. Additional analyses will be presented examining whether there were also differences when examining the parent-reported involvement as well as differences in levels of engagement in early learning activities at home. Comparisons of findings across methods will be discussed. If data are available, we also will examine the relationship between parent involvement and child outcomes.