Running head: PARENT INVOLVEMENT
Parental involvement in the Chinese immigrant children’s education
University of Cincinnati
Recent educational reforms have highlighted “No child left behind”. Immigrant students’ education and parental involvement are viewed as important parts of school improvement. Schools will improve the whole children’s education with all faculties and the community’s effort including immigrant parents’ engagement. Chinese immigrant family lives resolve around studying, working, and moving. Parents have difficulties in involvement of schools due to frequent mobility and little communication with schools, which negatively affect their children’s academic performance. This paper describes the necessities and problems of Chinese immigrant parental involvement from different perspectives. The discussion focuses on substantial parental involvement through breaking the barrier between schools and homes and building good school-community-parent partnership.
Parental involvement in the second generation of Chinese immigrants’ education
The 1965 Immigration Act increases international migration and changes the composition of the American population notably. The proportion represented by the Asian-origin population is 4.2%, in which, 57% of Asian-origin is Chinese-origin, the largest Asian group, with a total of 2.8 million. The number of Asian-origin persons increased at the rate of 48% from 1990 to 2000 and the Chinese-origin increased the fastest (Reeves, & Bennett, 2004; Hobbs, & Stoops, 2002). With this speed, Asia American will be 10% of Americans in 2050. Although 59.4% of Chinese immigrants have bachelor degrees or above, still 0.8 million, about 1/3 of Chinese immigrants are in poverty in the United States (U.S. Census bureau, 2006). Because Chinese immigrant family lives revolve around studying, working and moving on to better their financial situation, their children remain on the move and have some academic problems especially before their families settle down in one place. Research shows that the intensive parental involvement will have positive effects on their children’s achievement (Cotton, & Wikelund, 1985). Therefore, it is necessary to involve parent to improve students’ academic achievement.
Policies about parent involvement and immigrant students
Recent educational reforms have highlighted parental involvement as an important part of school improvement (Epstein, Sanders, Simon, & Salinas, 2002). The law requires Local Education Agency (LEA) to make parent policies to involve parents in improving their children’s school success including immigrant students. Section 306 f of Goals 2000 points, “Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children” (Nakagawa, 2000). According to Title I of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, 2001), local educational agencies (school districts, county offices, and direct-funded charter schools), and schools that receive Title I funds must produce family-school compacts, agreements between the school and families, which define parental involvement and educational objectives and responsibilities. The parents will receive accessible information, training, and other assistance to understand the standards and assessments, the requirements of the Act, and the programs. Therefore, the parents will know how to monitor and help improve their children’s performance, and how to participate effectively. Local Education Agency (LEA) must develop the parent involvement policy efficiently to ensure parents know how to participate fully in the Title I planning review, and implementation process. School districts that receive more than $500,000 in Title I funds, must spend over the expenditure of the 1% of Title I funds to facilitate parent involvement (Center for Law of Education). Meanwhile, Title III of NCLB provides federal financial support to state and local educational agencies for two programs which take accountability of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students and immigrant students. In allocating funds to States, the Department allocates 20 percent of the formula amount based on the State share of immigrant children and youth (who are aged 3 through 21, were not born in U.S.; and have not been attending one or more schools in any one or more schools in any one or more States for more than 3 full academic years) in all the States. Under section 3114(a) and section 3114 (d), States make subgrants to LEAs based entirely on the LEA share of LEP students and a significant increase in the percentage or number of immigrant children and youth.
Under the statute section 3114 (d), the LEA must provide enhanced instructional opportunities for immigrant children and youth, which may include:
Family literacy, parent outreach, and training activities designed to assist parents to become active participants in the education of their children;
Support for personnel, including teacher aides who have been specifically trained, or are being trained, to provide services to immigrant children and youth;
Provision of tutorials, mentoring, and academic or career counseling for immigrant children and youth;
Identification and acquisition of curricular materials, educational software, and technologies to be used in the program;
Basic instruction services that are directly attributable to the presence in the school district of immigrant children and youth, including the payment of costs of providing additional classroom supplies, costs of transportation, or such other costs as are directly attributable to such additional basic instruction services;
Other instruction services that are designed to assist immigrant children and youth to achieve in elementary and secondary schools in the U.S., such as programs of introduction to the educational system and civics education;
Activities coordinated with community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, private sector entities, or other entities with expertise in working with immigrants, to assist parents of immigrant children and youth by offering comprehensive community services.
The lack of the sharing of responsibility between school and home
To engage parents in students learning, it is necessary to share responsibility between school and home. However, there are four barriers to impede the sharing of responsibility between school and home. First, although some researchers have accredited their academic success mainly to their cultural and family support (Chao, 1996; Chen & Uttal, 1988; Schneider & Lee 1990), some Chinese immigrant students fail academically because of neglect by their parents who have rarely involved in their children’s education (University of Buffalo, 2008). Second, Chinese immigrant families are seldom involved in school process because they have a lack of connection with schools because they don’t know American school culture and do not understand how parental involvement affects their children’s school performance (Lipsit, 2003). They know little about schooling and the requirements that your school system may have. The school districts should find out about these parents and communicate with them. A bilingual person can help teachers know what language is used in the home, and what the parents know about the schools. The bilingual person may be an ESL teacher or aide, a migrant education specialist, or a volunteer. With the help of a bilingual person, teachers can either send notes home or call in order to maintain contact with them. Teachers should do what they can do to inform parents of students’ progress and elicit their support. Third, teachers don’t know how to teach immigrant students whose native language is not English. Cultural difference leads to different value on students. Teachers have different expectations for Chinese immigrant students from their parents (Cite). Fourth, According to the Chinese American Planning Council (CAPC), some Chinese immigrant children with LEP are lagging behind the students the same age and have a difficult time meeting the standards set for the grade and are referred to special education. When they are unable to communicate in English, some Chinese immigrant students choose not to communicate at all, leaving teachers to suppose the child has a developmental disability (Lipsit, 2003).
The necessities of engaging Chinese immigrant parents in schools
Parent involvement has been associated with student school success including increased achievement test results, a decrease in dropout rate, higher graduate rates, improved attendance, greater commitment to schoolwork, and improved attitude toward school (Hoover-Dempsey, Walker, Sandier, Whetsel, Green, Wilkins, & Closson, 2005). For Children from low income and minority families, low-income and minority students will benefit from parent involvement efforts especially through building parenting capacity and encouraging learning-at-home activities (Ingram, Wolfe, & Lieberman, 2007). Also, Hao and Burns (1998) found that high academic performance of Chinese immigrant students was contributed to their parents’ high expectations, frequent involvement in their children’s learning, and support after school. First Chinese immigrant families have high-risk characteristics of migrants such as low socioeconomic status, high levels of mobility, or low levels of English language skills. To some degree, they are suffering of economic, cultural, and social discrimination, as what the Center for Educational Planning’s report (1989) in Santa Clara, California. Their children, Chinese immigrant students, are challenging/ struggling with the transition of new environments because of limited English proficiency, hardship of adaptation to new schools in a short time, and confusion of culture difference.
It is essential to find out what each student knows both from schooling in the home country and schooling in the United States. In this way, immigrant students can maintain the educational continuity and succeed in the transition (Brown, 1993).
Wang (2001) suggests that collaborative services with school reform efforts will improve educational and social outcomes for children and families. The external support outside of schools is very important to students not only in terms of intelligence, but also mentality. The community and parents are the first teachers of young children. A good culture of a community and family’s encouragement influence children’s judgment on social justice and successes in school and future lives. The school-community-family partnerships have a responsibility for students’ academic success and to ensure that all students are willing to learn in and out school. Schools are an important part of children’s education and should collaborate with the communities and parents to make good use of diverse resources and facilitate students’ learning by connecting classroom instruction inside with the experiences outside.
The administrators and teachers should plan and involve parents in schools by building school-community-parent partnership through developing Title I/immigrant program, having teacher-parent conferences, parent training, sharing information, and other channels. To ensure effective parental involvement and to support a partnership among the school, parents, and community to improve student achievement, the first thing what the school should do is provide assistance to parents to understand federal and State education goals, State content and student performance standards, assessments. Conduct activities such as parent resource centers and opportunities for parents to learn about child development and child rearing; Involve parents in the planning and design of its programs that would adequately involve parents of participating children. Second, Provide materials and training to assist parents in working with their children to improve their children’s achievement; Ensure, to the extent possible, that information about school and parent meetings, programs, and activities is sent home in the language used in the participating child’s home; Third, Educate staff, with parental assistance, in the value and contributions of parents and in how to involve and work with parents as equal partners, implement and coordinate parent programs, and build ties between home and school. Fourth, Coordinate and integrate parental involvement programs and activities with Title I, Title III, ESL (English as Second Language) Programs, and other feasible and appropriate programs. For immigrant students who are eligible for Title I, Title III, and ESL program, they are from low-income families or not proficient in English. Parents’ traditional or non-traditional involvement can support student academic achievement.
Traditional model include PTA involvement, volunteering in the classroom, attending parent-teacher conferences, fundraising, involving families with their children in learning activities at home, etc. Non-traditional parental involvement can also promote their children’s learning through systematically articulating the value of education, warning of the dangers of not engaging in educational opportunities, and taking their children to the field to experience first hand the hard labor that can result from not completing an education (López, 2001). Fifth, develop appropriate roles for community-based organizations and businesses in parental involvement activities and providing information about and encouraging the formation of partnerships between public schools, businesses, and parents. Immigrant communities understand immigrant parents and their children particular needs and cultural characteristics. Therefore, they know how to serve immigrant families and involve parents in schooling. For example, the communities provide after school programs and childcare options so that parents can accommodate their working schedules and get chances to attend teacher-parent meetings. Because the comities have a shared language and culture with immigrant families, they can help school to convey school culture and provide other reasonable supports for parental involvement as requested by parents (Lipsit, 2003).
Some strategies to involve parents in schools
1. To help parents understand the importance of parental involvement:
The school will schedule an annual meeting to explain to parents the program, its requirements, and their right to be involved and make sure parents understand school policy.
2. Information sharing (strengthen the connection between schools and homes)
a. Timely information about Title I/Immigrant students/ LEP/ESL programs;
b. School performance profiles as required by law and their child’s individual student assessment results along with an interpretation of the results;
c. A description and explanation of the curriculum and forms of assessment used, and the expected student proficiency levels;
d. The opportunity to make suggestions, share experiences with other parents and participate in decisions relating to their child’s education; and,
e. Timely responses to parents’ suggestions.
3. The school should provide teachers in-service training to help them understand the four stages of culture shock, culture differences and strategies of teaching immigrant children.
Teachers should learn four stages of acculturation and understand immigrant students’ struggle and feeling. For most of immigrant students, they are challenging to learn a new language and the culture. It will take a period of time to adjust to the new environment and get used to say and do thing in different ways. Each student will experience four successive stages to adapt to the new settings. 1) Euphoria. During this initial phase the students will get excited at the newness of the surroundings. 2) Culture Shock. This term refers to phenomena ranging from mild irritability to deep psychological panic and crisis. Culture shock is associated with the learner’s feelings of estrangement, anger, hostility, indecision, frustration, unhappiness, sadness, loneliness, homesickness, and even physical illness. Persons undergoing culture shock view their new world with resentment and alternate between being angry at others for not understanding them and being filed with self-pity. 3) Anomie. This is a stage of gradual—and at first tentative and vacillating—recovery. This stage is typified by what is called “culture stress”: some problems of acculturation are solved while others continue for some time. As individuals begin to accept the differences in thinking and feeling that surround them, they slowly become more empathic with other persons in the second culture. Anomie might be described as a feeling of homelessness, where one feels neither bound firmly to one’s native culture nor fully adapted to the second culture. 4) Assimilation or Adaptation. This fourth stage represents near or full recovery as shown by acceptance of the new culture and self-confidence in the “new” person who has developed in this culture. (
4. School should Share the responsibility for student achievement with parents.
School’s responsibility is to provide high-quality curriculum and instruction to enable participating students to meet State student performance standards. Parent’s responsibility is to support their children’s learning;
To build school/parent compact, it is important to communicate between teachers and parents on an on-going basis. The school should have annual parent-teacher conferences to discuss the child’s achievement. Teachers should inform parents of their children’s progress frequently and the report card should send to the parents every school academic year together with detailed analysis. The school should provide opportunities with parents to access to staff, school services, and supplement services. Parents can act on students’ learning by taking roles as volunteers, participate, and observe in the child’s classroom.
5. Parent accessibility
The district and schools will provide full opportunities for the participation of parents with limited English proficiency or with disabilities, including providing information and school profiles in a language and form that is understandable by the parents.
The district and each school will assist parents and parent organizations in learning of and about parental information and resource centers.
The school-community-parent partnership is a collaborative way to connect between school and communities and involve parents to promote students’ learning. Therefore, the states should allocate the staff or funding needed to put this partnership into practice. The Title I/immigrant/ESL programs should match parent training and community needs, make use of homework as a possible link between school and home, encourage immigrant parents to discuss their barrier, change parent's role as advocate, recognize the impact of cultural differences, make parents feel welcome in school, develop strategies to involve parents, and gain the support of the business community and immigrant employers. Successful parent involvement strategies: home visits, at-home learning activities, parent training, cultural enrichment activities, improved parent access, and improved school-home communication.
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