14 SES 01 A, Reading Competencies and Writing: Parental Feedback, Family and Teachers' Perspectives
Several studies investigated the factors that contribute to predict academic success. In those studies family socio economic background is often regarded as an important background characteristic. Although socio-economic background should be considered an important predictor of student performance, previous research indicated that it is not sufficient to fully account for individual differences in academic success. In particular, the review of literature clearly showed that parental involvement was strongly associated with higher educational aspirations and better performance of young people (Patall, Cooper & Robinson 2008).
Parents tend to support their children’s homework and study in different ways, and generally parents’ reactive behaviors (i.e., educational support practices) are negatively correlated to achievement, while proactive behaviors (i.e., discussion) are positively associated with academic achievement. This is probably the reason why usually research shows no or negative association between help given by parents in doing homework and students’ achievement (Lee & Bowen, 2006; Fan & Chen, 2001). Another key aspect in determining the later success in reading achievement and in reading-related activities is the development of early literacy skills (Sjuts et al., 2012).
Furthermore, if on one hand it is well known that student background has an impact on educational achievement (e.g., Shen et al., 2014), on the other hand recent studies showed that parental involvement acts as a mediator in this relation (e.g., González & Jackson, 2013; Cooper et al., 2009).
Based on the literature referred to in this paper, it has been possible to put forward some hypotheses that have been tested on PIRLS 2016 data:
H1) parental expectations, as well as their reading enjoyment, influence both parental involvement and students’ achievement.
H2) A higher parental engagement during childhood is associated with better academic achievement, measured through the PIRLS test.
H3) Parental involvement works as a mediator in the relation between SES and achievement. The hypothesis specifically states that part of the SES effects on achievement depends on its influence on parents’ participation.
 Progress in international Study Assessment (PIRLS) is an international project of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) conducted every five years since 2001. The main aim of PIRLS is to measure trends in reading literacy achievement of fourth grade students across countries, in order to provide comparative information about educational achievement and thus to improve teaching and learning in reading (for a detailed description, see Mullis et al., 2017).
Methods Participants Italian grade 4 students (and their parents) who took part in PIRLS 2016 were considered. Cases with missing values in one or more explanatory variables were excluded. The overall sample consisted of 3294 Italian students and their parents participating. Measures For the sake of brevity, only the measures that are directly relevant to the study will be described (for a detailed description see Martin, Mullis & Hooper, 2017). Reading literacy scale. The scale was developed at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College. The international average centre point (fixed on PIRLS 2001) is 500. The following variables derived from student and home questionnaires were used in the analyses. Using IRT partial credit scaling, student responses were placed on a scale with mean scale score of 10 across all countries and standard deviation of 2. Socio-economic and cultural status (SES). Based on the answers from students and parents, a general index of each student’s socio-economic and cultural status was created: (1) student home environments, including the parents’ educational level and parents’ occupational status, (2) the number of resources for study available at home, and (3) the number of books at home. Early Literacy Activities before Beginning Primary School. The scale consisted of nine questions concerning time spent by parents doing some literacy activities with their child, such as “sing songs”. Parent like reading. Parents gave their agreement to eight statements such as “Reading is one of my favourite hobbies”. Furthermore, answers to four single items are used in this study: 1. Parental Expectations for Their Children's Academic Attainment. One question of the Home questionnaire asked parents which level of education they expect for their child. 2. Frequency of Help child with homework. 3. Frequency of Review child’s homework to make sure it is correct. Data analysis The descriptive analyses by geographic areas were conducted using the software IEA IDB Analyzer. A mediation analysis with structural equation modeling assessed the direct and indirect effects of socio-economic and cultural background and immigrant status on reading achievement through the mediation of “parental involvement” factors described above, by means of MPLUS.
Descriptive statistics showed difference in Italy in function of gender and geographic areas: female outperformed males (respectively 553 vs. 545) and students from North had better results respect to students from South (respectively 561 vs. 534). Path analysis The structural equation model had good indices according to recommended cut-off values (Byrne, 2001): RMSEA=0.07 and CFI=0.98 and explained 22% of the variance. The achievement in reading was predicted by all factors considered in the path model. Student education expectation and parents like reading were associated with the parents’ behavior. Reading achievement was found to be strongly and positively associated with the socio-economic and cultural index (β=.24, p < 0.01), expectation of student education (β=.15, p<0.01), frequency of helping child with homework (β=.12, p<0.01) and review child’s homework (β=.13, p<0.01). The more time parents spent with their child doing some literacy activities before beginning of primary school, the better students did in reading (β=.07, p<0.01), With regards to mediation (Zhao et al., 2010; Iacobucci et al., 2007), the results evidenced the positive and significant effects of parental involvement factors mediating the relationship between socio-economic and cultural index and PIRLS achievement (e.g. González & Jackson, 2013; Cooper, et al., 2009), According to literature, context factors, which reflect the availability/non availability of economic and cultural resources within the family, play a relevant role in determining the performance of students (e.g., Sirin, 2005; OECD, 2016; Mullis et al., 2017). This study seems to indicate that the parental involvement not only influences students’ achievement directly, but also mediates the effects of socio-economic background. Thus, parental involvement should be considered as one aspect to investigate in depth for a deeper understanding of how school communities can operate to mitigate the effect of socio-economic and cultural differences on students' performance.
Byrne, B. M. (2001). Structural equation modeling: Perspectives on the present and the future. International Journal of Testing, 1(3-4), 327-334. Cooper, C. E., Crosnoe, R., Suizzo, M. A., & Pituch, K. A. (2010). Poverty, race, and parental involvement during the transition to elementary school. Journal of family issues, 31(7), 859-883. Desforges, C., Abouchaar, A. (2003). The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education on pupil achievement and adjustment: A literature review (Vol. 433). Nottingham: DfES Publications. Fan, X., Chen, M. (2001). Parental involvement and students' academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Educational psychology review, 13(1), 1-22. González, R. L., & Jackson, C. L. (2013). Engaging with parents: the relationship between school engagement efforts, social class, and learning. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 24(3), 316-335. Iacobucci, D., Saldanha, N, Deng, X. (2007), “A Meditation on Mediation: Evidence that Structural Equations Models Perform better than Regressions”, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 17(2), 139-153. Lee, J. S., Bowen, N. K. (2006). Parent involvement, cultural capital, and the achievement gap among elementary school children. American Educational Research Journal, 43(2), 193-218. Martin, M. O., Mullis, I. V. S., & Hooper, M. (Eds.). (2017). Methods and Procedures in PIRLS 2016. Retrieved from Boston College, TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center website https://timssandpirls.bc.edu/publications/pirls/2016-methods.html. Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., & Hooper, M. (2017). PIRLS 2016 International Results in Reading. Retrieved from Boston College, TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center website OECD (2016). PISA 2015 Results (Volume I): Excellence and Equity in Education. Paris: OECD Publishing. Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Robinson, J. C. (2008). Parent involvement in homework: A research synthesis. Review of educational research, 78(4), 1039-1101. Shen, J., Washington, A. L., Bierlein Palmer, L., Xia, J. (2014). Effects of Traditional and Nontraditional Forms of Parental involvement on School-Level Achievement Outcome: An HLM Study Using SASS 2007–2008. The Journal of Educational Research, 107(4), 326-337. Sirin, S. R. (2005). Socioeconomic status and academic achievement: A meta-analytic review of research. Review of educational research, 75(3), 417-453. Sjuts, T. M., Clarke, B. L., Sheridan, S. M., Rispoli, K. M., & Ransom, K. A. (2012). Beyond Activities: Engaging Families in Preschoolers' Language and Literacy Development. CYFS Working Paper No. 2012-7. Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools. Zhao, X, Lynch, J.G., Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and Truths about Mediation Analysis, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 37, 197-206.
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