There is nothing more important in a K-12 student’s academic life that a parent. There is not at school, teacher, or educational program that comes anywhere near the effect that a pro-active parent has on a student’s success.

Research has demonstrated that strong family involvement has numerous benefits for children and youth, including:

  • Higher grades and test scores;
  • Better school attendance;
  • Greater completion of homework;
  • Demonstration of more positive attitudes and behavior; and
  • Higher graduation ratesParenting #3

In addition, parents who are involved in their children’s education show that they value learning and good character, set high expectations, stay informed about their children’s progress, and monitor their children’s activities. Research shows that when parents maintain strong relationships with their children’s schools, the parents develop:

  • A greater appreciation of their role in their children’s education;
  • An improved sense of self-worth;
  • Stronger social networks; and
  • In general, a greater understanding about their schools and teaching and learning activities

Parenting #5.jpgThere are a lot of parents that would like to become more pro-active in their child’s education but for a myriad of reasons they don’t know where to begin. There are a growing number of programs that are available online through school and the PAT that can help parents get more involved.

One such company, SurveyMonkey collaborates with Harvard Graduate School of Education to Help K-12 Schools Improve Parent Involvement through a series of parental surveys. The Harvard Family Research Project have been incorporated into a growing number of educational reform initiatives and funding opportunities, including the US Department of Education Race to the Top.

For over a decade, tens of thousands of schools have used SurveyMonkey to listen to their parent communities. But many of those surveys have missed the aspects of the family/school relationship that drive student outcomes by asking the right questions to assess parent involvement.

Interviews, focus groups, and pre-testing techniques with potential respondents were used to focus on how parents of K-12 children understood what they were being asked. This helped the survey designers understand how ambiguity in language might impact respondents’ interpretations across key areas. For instance, do parents see “academic achievement” to mean solely test scores and grades, or do they feel that it covers reading proficiency and critical thinking skills? Is “improved school performance” viewed through the lens of traditional outcomes across subjects, or does it include social and psychological aspects of well-being? Nuances such as these were critical in creating questions that could effectively help schools assess parental involvement.

Survey questions assess key areas of family/school relationships. Drawing from academic literature, parent interviews, focus groups, expert panels, and survey design best practices, the team developed questions that addressed the following key areas: 

  • Parental supportHow much help are students getting at home?Parenting #4
  • Child behaviorsWhat habits have students developed that shape their success?
  • Parent engagementHow engaged are parents in their child’s schooling, and what potential barriers exist?
  • Parent self-efficacyHow confident are parents in supporting their child’s schooling?
  • School climateHow do parents view their school regarding academic and social standards?
  • School program fitHow well do a school’s academic program, social climate, and organizational structure match a student’s needs?
  • Parent roles and responsibilitiesHow do parents view their roles as well as teachers’ roles in different aspects of their child’s schooling?


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