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Les Potter is currently the director of the American International School West in Cairo, Egypt. Les has over 40 years in educational leadership in the US and Egypt and most recently has been a...
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The Need for More Parent Involvement in Schools

My message is not necessarily that parents are important (we know this) but you must do what you can to get parents involved in your school. I would make phone calls, emails, hand out invitation to meet with me when I was a principal to parents as they dropped off and picked up their children, used message boards, etc. I would not stop “hounding parents” to get them involved with the school.

Briefly at one middle school where I was a principal our PTA over two years: saw our test scores improve above the district and state average (we were a Title One school), the average daily attendance rose from less than 90% to 96%, twenty-five percent of our students made the honor roll each nine weeks, the end of the year retention rate decreased to .015 percent, student became more involved in community projects, the number of 8th grade state junior schools (academics—grades and test scores) rose from five student to 25 in one year, parents raised over $20,000 in two years, and the state recognized the school’s improvements and awarded the school $25,000. We did this through parent involvement and incentives for the students. It was not easy in a Title One School, but perseverance finally won over and this is what a school leader must do for parent involvement.

Parent involvement in a child’s education is very important. A common theme seems to run through the definition of parental involvement. Involved parents:

  1. Promote the success of all children
  2. Serve the whole child-mentally, socially and emotionally
  3. Sharing responsibilities for education of all children
  4. Always parents to see what is going on in the classroom

According to the National PTA a few years ago wrote that “The most accurate predicator of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status, but the extent to which the student’s family is able to create a home environment that encourages learning; communicate high yet reasonable expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers; and become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community.”

We believe there are five types of parental involvement and you should decide which one or all are best for your school. Whether this is need based or level of parental involvement.

They are:

  • Parenting-schools help parents with their basic responsibilities to create healthful home environments.
  • Communicating: Schools and parents have regular, two-way, ongoing communications to better help the child.
  • Volunteering-parents serve as volunteers at school---in the classroom, chaperones, speaker, etc. But make sure they have completed their volunteer clearance forms that are almost always required these days.
  • Learning at home-schools provide resources for helping children at home. School and home work as a team.
  • Representing other parents-parents become leaders and advocates. Parents are involved, not just in the PTA and fund raising, but in advocacy groups, advisement councils, and school improvement programs.

You know what PTAs and parents can do for a school. My suggestion is to get the parents to behave in a positive way and do the best that they can for the school. Keep calling and asking for help. Not just for fund raising but for school improvement. We used tutors to help are slower students in after school tutoring, mentors for students, career days, college fairs, test prep programs, etc.

Never stop working with your parents as they can do so much for you.


Les Potter, Ed. D.

American International School West
Cairo, Egypt