Can school-to-home communication technology boost parent involvement in home literacy activities to affect student achievement in early literacy skills?
Many children enter Kindergarten already behind in the early skills and knowledge they need to become successful readers (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). When given standard early literacy assessments, these students have a difficult time catching up to their peers who entered prepared (Foster & Miller, 2007). More than a few researchers have found that parent involvement can have a positive impact on student achievement in literacy (Van Voorhis, Maier, Epstein, & Lloyd, 2013). In the small, yet diverse community of American Canyon, it will be valuable to see if this theory can be tested with the added component of technology as a way to increase parent involvement. Pew Research Center on Internet and Technology reports that 67% of people who make less than $30K per year own smartphones, and 82% of people who make $30-49K own smartphones. This means that more parents than ever can use technology to communicate with their children’s schools and access resources to become involved in their education. There is a scarcity of research to be found on home intervention programs that employ parent-school communication technology as a means of reminding and encouraging participation. If a program like this proves to be effective, one potential way to close the achievement gap could be identified.
This will be a pretest-post test action research study. Parents of 10 students in Kindergarten will be invited to participate in a home-based literacy intervention program. This program will include activities designed to reinforce at home what is being taught in the classroom in the areas of phonological awareness and letter-sound correspondences. Activities include alliterative poem readings, letter-sound correspondence tasks, and letter identification tasks. Parents are offered an evening workshop at school (Spanish translation provided) where the literacy activities are explained and demonstrated. A log to capture how often and for how long parents are doing the activities will be sent via the communication tool, including additional digital resources (letter-sound videos and games that correspond to the letter of the week) as well as reminders. Beginning and ending scores on a letter-sound fluency assessment will determine what effect the treatment had on the achievement of the children whose parents participated. The parent logs will reveal whether a relationship exists between frequency/duration of sessions and degree of achievement. An end-of-program parent survey will indicate how parents felt about the value/effectiveness of the program and its components (use of technology, activities, resources provided, workshop).
Foster, W. A., & Miller, M. (2007). Development of the Literacy Achievement Gap: A Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten through Third Grade. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38(3), 173–181
Van Voorhis, F. L., Maier, M. F., Epstein, J. L., Lloyd, C. M., & MDRC. (2013). The Impact of Family Involvement on the Education of Children Ages 3 to 8: A Focus on Literacy and Math Achievement Outcomes and Social-Emotional Skills. MDRC.
Zill, N., & West, J. U.S. Department of Education, 2001. National Center for Education Statistics, Entering Kindergarten: A Portrait of American Children When They Begin School: Findings from The Condition of Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, NCES 2001–035.