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June 24 , 2007

The Broken Compass


It seems like common sense that children do better when parents are actively involved in their schooling. But how well does the evidence stack up? The Broken Compass puts this question to the test in the most thorough scientific investigation to date of how parents across socioeconomic and ethnic groups contribute to the academic performance of K-12 children. The surprising discovery is that no clear connection exists between parental involvement and student performance. Keith Robinson and Angel Harris assessed over sixty measures of parental participation, at home and in school. While some of the associations they found were consistent with past studies, others ran contrary to previous research and popular perceptions. It is not the case that Hispanic and African American parents are less concerned about education – or that "Tiger parenting" among Asian Americans gets the desired results. Many low-income parents want to be involved in their children's school lives but often receive little support from school systems. For immigrant families, language barriers only worsen the problem. In this provocative work, Robinson and Harris believe that the time has come to reconsider whether parental involvement can make much of a dent in the basic problems facing American schools today.
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