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The New PTA

how_to_link_parent_involvement_to_achievement

New PTA Movement

We recently presented at the Utah state PTA Convention. We met many great, dedicated people who really want to make a difference in education. PTA representatives we spoke with were inquisitive, thoughtful, and were sincerely investigating ways they can help teachers and improve student achievement. This hasn't necessarily always been the case, however. This isn't to say that PTA representatives in the past were indifferent or thought their contributions were a waste of time. Absolutely not. We presented many times at past conventions, and as we met with PTA representatives, they simply seemed to be focused on other issues for their schools. But PTAs today are showing a more focused interest in legitimate ways they can organize parent involvement to help our students achieve more.

As research is now showing, our traditional methods of "parent involvement" are not as effective at improving achievement as we'd hoped and often do not create the type of parent-teacher partnership required to improve achievement. To improve achievement, parent involvement needs to be linked to classroom achievement and create a more clear partnership with teachers. So PTA representatives spoke with us about ways they can help parents understand how what they do at home will help improve achievement and communicate with teachers is a way directly linked to improving achievement.

2012 PTA Convention "New Parent Involvement" Presentation by Dr. Lynn Scoresby

At this year's Utah PTA convention, Dr. Lynn Scoresby presented new methods PTAs can organize parent involvement to increase the level of commitment and participation of parents. The following are excerpts from his presentation:

  • The new PTA Mission: At the same time we are hoping teachers will teach more effectively, more students are coming into the classroom unprepared to participate successfully.
  • Increasing parent commitment is essential to improve student engagement. When students engage with the teacher and learning they:

--Invest more mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally to improve their participation in the process of learning and achievement

--Work hard: much harder than they typically do

--Focus and are attentive, develop their own brain-related style of learning, and regularly test it against the challenges presented to them

--Recognize that some emotions shut down learning and capturing other feelings builds excitement for achieving more.

  • Develop Peer Influence--This can compensate for a family heritage that does not promote learning and achievement and is a powerful component to eliminating bullying.
  • Develop Character--This is a method of changing students’ achievement culture and social behavior: Responsibility, Accountability, Understand consequences for others, Dependability, Belonging, Cooperation, Rule-Oriented, Social abilities that promotes social participation
  • The Right Kind of Parent Involvement Produces the Best Results: 1. Giving parents meaningful and specific things to do before their children start school, during school, and during summer break 2. Shaping the family environment to provide conditions for student engagement 3. Creating a sense of community where parents begin to feel like they belong to a group of like-minded people who are committed to child development

Getting Started

  1. Change the image parents have of themselves concerning their role in achievement and school success. Raise expectation and show parents how easily they can participate in these higher goals
  2. Teach parents how to be involved: Parents often don’t participate with schools because they don’t feel what they do is significant. They want to know that what they do will help their students with their teacher this very year. Teach about achievement, character, and learning tools for success--the three essential components of successful students.
  3. Create and Raise Expectation--Change "Back-to-School Night" to "Parents Make a Difference Night:" Invite parents to learn about the school schedule so they can help out, change the name of the first parents’ night and give them take away tools to use at home to improve their children’s opportunities for success.
  4. Make Effective Use of Room Mothers or assign "Achievement Specialists": Encourage and increase participation with regular contact and encouragement...always linking participation to success of students and achieving classroom and school goals
  5. Reward Classes for Parent Enrollment and participation
  6. Share Feedback and Success Stories: Use conferences and other messages to communicate how parental commitment and involvement is improving overall school performance i.e. test data, student behavioral improvement
  7. Measure Progress:
  • You can measure progress by significant improvement in student achievement TEST SCORES
  • Reductions in discipline problems - ELIMINATE BULLYING
  • Building character at school and at home will be obvious to both parents and teachers
  • More students will love to learn and care for each other

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