Parental involvement and achievement in mathematics: An analysis of a promising initiative

Date of Completion

January 2008


Education, Mathematics|Education, Administration




For the past 30 years, student performance in science and mathematics in the United States has remained at disappointing levels. In comparison to 20 other nations in advanced mathematics and physics, students in the United States scored significantly lower in advanced mathematics, and only one country scored lower in physics (NCES, 1997). In short, improving mathematics achievement among U.S. students is a long-standing issue. ^ This study explored the features of a program that focused on increasing parental involvement in their children's mathematics education. It investigated what specific qualities of teacher-to-parent and school-to-parent involvement accompany a program that successfully involved parents. In addition, other aspects that involved parents successfully in their children's mathematics education were identified. ^ Using qualitative methods to collect and analyze data, parents, teachers, and administrators in one of the 25 largest school districts in the country who participated in this program were interviewed. From this data, the researcher concluded that the instructional program actively engaged parents; enhanced parent and teacher relationships; increased the range of options for parents to communicate with teachers and enhanced the ease and comfort of their communication. Parents indicated that the program was relevant to their concerns, focused on helping them improve the academic achievement of their children, and provided a substantive amount of parent-teacher contact. The program quality and the knowledge parents gained about algebra empowered them to become more involved in their child's learning. In doing so it ultimately improved parent-child relationships as they related to mathematics and school in general. Participation in the program led to parents gaining confidence due to a better understanding on how mathematics should be taught to their children. ^ This study indicates that much work must continue to occur to educate parents about new educational practices and also inform educators about their responsibility to connect with parents regarding curriculum and instruction. The challenge has three dimensions. While schools and teachers need to provide access to such initiatives, parents, in turn, need to avail themselves to the opportunities offered. On the third level, students must not be forgotten in the planning and implementation of parental outreach initiatives. ^