Background/Context: Parental involvement is a key ingredient in the educational success of students and an integral component of involvement is teacher-parent communication. One body of research finds that minority immigrant parents face barriers in interacting with schools, and communicate less with schools than native-born White parents. However, we know little of how schools reach out to parents.
Purpose: In this study, I use a nationally representative sample of high schoolers to examine patterns of teachers communicating with parents.
Population/Participants/Subjects: I utilize a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school sophomores, the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002).
Research Design: This study employs quantitative analyses of secondary data, including two-sample tests for proportions, logistic regression, and predicted percentages.
Findings/Results: Even after considering measures of student behavior and other factors, I find that mathematics teachers are more likely to contact parents of third-generation Black and Latino youth about disruptive behavior than parents of third-generation White youth. Mathematics and English teachers are less likely to contact immigrant Asian parents about academic and behavioral concerns, even when students are struggling. Teachers are also less likely to contact minority parents with news of accomplishments.
Conclusions/Recommendations: The findings of this study point to the important role that race and nativity play in shaping teacher communication with parents. Education policy should be cognizant that racial/ethnic and immigrant disparities exist in teacher-parent contact, and encourage more training in teacher preparation programs and professional development coursework for teachers and school administrators. Moreover, existing programs and interventions on multicultural / diversity training should be evaluated for their impact on teacher perceptions and behavior.