What If Your Students Increased Their Effort at School? Partnering w/Parents

Schools need parents and parents need schools, and we all need the community as well.  According to years of research, we know that the contribution that schools make to a student’s academic performance is roughly one-third, while the other two-thirds come from home and community contributions.

Here’s a way to look at how well we know the importance of parental engagement on student performance.  Think about this:  what percentage of your students, on a regular basis, are trying their best?  what percentage are trying enough?  what percentage hardly try?  You can do this with any size sample… the school as a whole, a grade level, a department, one teacher’s class.  Doesn’t matter, but you pick the sample group and then estimate the percentages.


Once you begin to focus on student effort and which students give their best, just enough, or hardly any effort, then begin to examine WHY?  Why do the students who try their best do so?  How about the one’s that try only enough, or even the ones who hardly try?  I’ve done this exercise at many different places with varied demographics and locations, but the top answer is almost always the same:  those who try their best are doing so because of influences that come from home.


Before you say it, yes there are some children and adolescents who are intrinsically motivated and just want to do well.  Even those are often attributed to encouragement from home.  Yes, there are also “bootstrap” stories of students who have had little help from parents or family and have decided to pull themselves up on their own. As teachers, we love those stories and are pulling for them to succeed.  Speaking of teachers, some of the students who try their best are doing so because of the influence of a caring adult in the school.  All of those categories are real, and they are all important.  It’s accurate to say, however, that home (parents or grandparents, aunts, uncles, family) can be a significant factor in the level of effort that a student expends on a daily basis at school.

We are often quick to point that out for those students who we would sort into the “red” quadrant above that of students who we have determined hardly try.  For those students, it is the absence of support from home that we often identity as the reason for their lower level of effort.  If we are going to make that connection, we should objectively give credit on the other end of the scale as well.

So, why examine “effort?”  What does this have to do with school/family relations?  More importantly, shouldn’t we be getting back to some intervention that will help the student raise their achievement scores?

What if I were to tell you that we are reaching a saturation point on what we can contribute to student achievement from the school’s level?  Granted, this is making an assumption that at your school that you are indeed doing what’s appropriate, accurate, and effective in improving student achievement.

Here’s the aha moment… you will reach a point that you can no longer merely hope for adequate support from home, but in order to see student achievement improve, you’ll need to be intentional, strategic, and consistent about building partnerships with parents. The effort that students will expend depends upon it.  It will require a different mindset towards parents than the one that many schools/leaders/teachers currently possess.   We need to look at the parents of our students in a new way.  We need to see them as the goldmine towards student achievement, because they indeed are.

How do we do it?  See you back here tomorrow.

#Leadership 365  /45



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