How Powerful Is Parent Involvement in Improving Student Achievement?

September 10, 2018

A Review of the Relationship Between Parental Involvement Indicators and Academic Achievement

This review examines the relationship between parental involvement and student academic achievement. The definition of parental involvement isn’t always clear and encompasses a wide range of parental interventions and involvement in a child’s education. Two types of parental involvement are generally examined in the available research: home-based strategies, such as providing structure and support for learning and education at home, and school-based strategies, such as communicating with teachers and attending school events.

  1. Parental involvement and early childhood academic achievement(22 studies)

The majority of studies reported small to medium positive effect sizes on achievement for parental interventions in early childhood. When parents engage with preschoolers in learning activities at home, academic achievement improves. Research suggests that enriching activities such as telling stories, teaching letters and numbers, engaging in problem-solving activities, singing songs, and playing games improve children’s literacy skills. Research on parental involvement in school revealed mixed results depending on the type of involvement.

  1. Parental involvement and academic achievement for elementary school children(22 studies)

The majority of studies of elementary school children that examined the link between parental involvement and school achievement found a small to medium impact in math and reading. Not all studies reported positive outcomes and a small number reported a negative relationship to student achievement. It is important to note that outcomes for parental involvement varied according to the form of parental activity being examined.

This review found that parents’ educational expectations were the strongest predictor of academic achievement for elementary school children. Negative outcomes were associated with parents applying academic pressure in the form of commands, punishment, or coercive interactions. On the other hand, positive parental engagement, such as praising children’s performance, progress, and efforts and letting children know they cared about them and their school performance, was related to improved academic performance.

  1. Parental involvement and academic achievement at middle school, high school, and beyond(31 studies)

The majority of the studies investigated the link between parental involvement and student achievement in math and literacy. Most reported small to medium positive effect sizes associated with parental involvement and academic achievement.

Parental expectations were generally reported to have a positive correlation with academic achievement, or higher GPA. Valuing academic achievement and then reinforcing it produced significant positive outcomes in mathematics among high school students. Parent-child discussions about school activities and educational planning produced positive outcomes and reduced truancy. Parental control and interference resulted in negative academic achievement. Parents attending school events, meeting with teachers, and/or volunteering at school produced no improvement in academic performance.


The strongest associations with improved student performance across all grades were parental expectations and aspirations. The review also concluded that parental involvement and academic achievement do not diminish as children grow into young adulthood. What does change is how parents engage with their child over time; direct involvement in learning diminishes, but the value of fostering conditions for academic success increases. Parents seem to affect their children’s academic outcomes by setting high academic expectations and by creating, in ways not considered intrusive or controlling, a comfortable space for the children to develop their own academic motivations. The review also found that the benefits of school-based involvement by parents are not strong or produce mixed results.

Citation:Boonk, L., Gijselaers, H. J., Ritzen, H., & Brand-Gruwel, S. (2018). A review of the relationship between parental involvement indicators and academic achievement. Educational Research Review24, 10–30.