PISA was encouraged by OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) to go beyond testing and look at what is happening in the home. They looked at about 20 countries and parents of 5,000 students in those countries. They then compared that information with test results and published these three findings.
- “Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all." "On average, the score difference is 25 points, the equivalent of well over half a school year."
- "The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socioeconomic background."
- "Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.”
The kind of parental involvement matters, as well. “For example,” the PISA study noted, “on average, the score point difference in reading that is associated with parental involvement is largest when parents read a book with their child, when they talk about things they have done during the day, and when they tell stories to their children.” The score point difference is smallest when parental involvement takes the form of simply playing with their children.
He also references a study by The Center for Public Education that echoes these results (and has some pretty interesting things to say). I was particularly struck by this:
Survey parents and teachers to understand their perspective on parent involvement. Investigate how parents want to be involved, and how teachers want parents to be involved.
Continue to survey or otherwise track the effects of involvement, in order to use schools’ time and resources wisely. In these tight economic times, focus on putting schools’ money and energy into what works best, rather than continuing ineffective programs.
Mr. Friedman ends this way:
To be sure, there is no substitute for a good teacher. There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction. But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers. We also need better parents. Better parents can make every teacher more effective.