Parent Engagement Research

Key research reports showing the value of parent and carer engagement in learning.

Parent engagement and aspirations

Australia conducts a Longitudinal Study of Australian Youth (LSAY) which follows groups of Australian youths from age 15 to age 25. Researchers use this information to look at some of the factors that affect why some students complete Year 12 or go onto higher education and other students do not. The authors of the below research papers examine factors that influence young people's plans to complete Year 12, their aspirations to commence university study in the first year after leaving school and their expected occupation at age 30. The findings demonstrate just how important parents and peers are in relation to young people's aspirations.

You can read more about the Longitudinal Study of Australian Youth (LSAY) research project in the following reports:

Parent engagement and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

Australia takes part in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) every three years. PISA tests 15 year old students in countries who are part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In PISA 2009, 14 countries and economies had parents of students taking part in a questionnaire.

This questionnaire provided insights into how parent engagement in their child’s education influenced their child’s PISA score. Australian parents did not take the questionnaire.

The findings from this research suggested that parent involvement is not the same as parent engagement. Parent engagement is more strongly related to successful learning outcomes than parent involvement. Activities that are part of parent engagement include reading to children when they are young, engaging in discussions that promote critical thinking and setting a good example.

Parent engagement and school attendance

Research from PISA showed that the educational outcomes are less for children and teenagers who do not attend school. Australian students who did not attend school during the research achieved lower results than students in other countries who did not attend school.[i]

Poor school attendance patterns can start as early as Year 1. It is important that from the first day of school parent and families set an expectation that their child will be at school every day.[ii] During the transition from primary to high school or another school parents need to be clear with their child that they expect the child to attend school every day. 

Report: OECD, 2014, ‘Who are the school truants?,’ PISA in Focus 35, OECD Publishing

Parent engagement and literacy

Researchers have found that students whose parents are engaged in their education have better literacy levels than students whose parents are not. Parent engagement can include activities such as discussing social or political issues with the child, discussing books, films and television programs with the child and discussing how well the child is doing in school.

It was found that students who discuss books, films and television programs with their parents show better reading performance than students who do not.

Parent attitudes to reading have a large impact on students’ reading performance and enjoyment of reading.  Students whose parents think that reading is a waste of time score more than 30 points lower in reading than children whose parents don’t think reading is a waste of time. This emphasises the importance of the attitudes that parents hold towards education and reading.

Parent engagement with teachers and the community

Research shows that student learning is most effective when it is the result of a partnership between the school, teachers, parents and the community.

Effective parental engagement ultimately relies on the willingness and capacity of teachers and parents to share responsibility and work together to support learning.

[i] OECD, 2014.

[ii] Hancock, Shepherd, Lawrence & Zubrick, 2013, p.iv