Is Parent Involvement Overrated? Parents Outraged over 2014 Study

Parents Doubt Study’s Findings that they have No Impact on a Child’s Success in School
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May 15, 2014 - PRLog -- , Los Angeles CA - Ask any parent who’s a PTA member or enforces a strict “HomeworkBefore Facebook” policy whether they believe they’re helping their kids get “A”s in school and you’ll hear a predictable answer: “Of course I Am?”

But authors of a new study say their evidence tells a different story, prompting a backlash from parents upset that any study would suggest they have little or no impact on how their kids perform academically.

In the study, called “The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement with Children’s Education”, authors Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris conclude that most forms of parental involvement, including attending PTA meetings and helping a child with their homework, do not improve student achievement.   In fact, the authors, both sociology professors, insist that in some cases, parental involvement can actually hinder a child academically.

“While policy makers were convinced that parental involvement positively affected children’s schooling outcomes, academic studies were much more inconclusive,” said Robinson, a professor at the University of Texas in Austin.

How was the “Broken Compass” study conducted? The authors reviewed educational surveys of American families carried out in cities throughout the US over the pasts 30 years.  They compared the average achievement of children whose parents regularly engage in each form of parental involvement to that of their counterparts whose parents do not.  They found that most forms of parental involvement yielded no benefit to children’s test scores or grades, regardless of racial or ethnic background or socioeconomic standing.  Their counterintuitive conclusion: “there were more instances in which children had higher levels of achievement when their parents were less involved than there were among those whose parents were more involved,” said Robinson.

Parents are understandably outraged, saying the study is an attempt to upend decades of research that demonstrate the value of parental involvement.  “It’s a wrong message to send to parents, it might discourage involvement, and we are already too busy and spend too little time on our kids,” said Lana Pinskaya, the founder of, a website Pinskaya created to help parents raise successful kids. Pinskaya points out that a study that focuses on parental involvement in academics alone also fails to address the more important role mothers and fathers play in a child’s educational, career and life success.  Pinskaya is referring to the concept of “Whole Child Education”, which advocates a commitment from parents to look beyond grades and test scores and build skills and character traits that prepare children for college, careers, and community citizenship.

Pinskaya’s Website,, offers resources as well as T-shirts and educational gifts focused on inspiring parents to practice Whole Child Education in their households and do more than help their children get good grades in school.  “We explore qualities and skills to develop in kids to set them up for success: leadership, confidence, a love of learning, entrepreneurial mindset, financial literacy, social skills, achievement drive and girl power.”

“The study is misleading” said Pinskaya.  “But I’m glad it’s gained so much attention in recent weeks because it reminds us that grades and test results matter but most definitely NOT the only way to achieve success in life.”

Lana Pinskaya
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