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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources

LIFE - Children, Youth and Families at risk

Research Review

The Relationship Between Parental Education and School Involvement of Mexican-American Parents

López, Linda C. and Rodríguez, Richard F. (1995). The Relationship Between Parental Education and School Involvement of Mexican-American Parents. Psychological Reports, 77 (3), 1203-1207.

PURPOSE: Examined the relationship between education and involvement in school among Mexican-American parents in elementary schools across Texas.


  • Brooks & Sussman (1990) and Kroth (1975) found that the effect of parental involvement in educational activities at school is significant and tends to be especially noticeable for children of elementary school age.
  • Cafferty & McCready (1992), Correa & Tulbert (1993), and Valadez (1992) suggest that education does not take into account language and cultural diversity.
  • Baca & Cervantes (1989) found that many parents whose skill in the English language is limited feel inadequate and view school through their own past experiences which may have included conflict in the classroom, low academic achievement, high drop-out rates, and teacher’s insensitivity.


  • Subjects: 814 Mexican-American students attending elementary school. (Mexican-American includes immigrants to the U.S. who were born in Mexico and individuals born in the U.S. who have Mexican ancestry.
  • Subject’s parents were divided into two groups, those who graduated from high school and those who did not complete secondary school.
  • In the kindergarten through sixth grade, 823 of the children delivered questionnaires to their parents to be completed and returned to the school. The parents were informed that it was sent to them to better understand the relationship between parents and personnel in the public school. The questionnaire, written in English and Spanish, solicited demographic information as well as information concerning parents’ involvement with the school.


  • The extent of parental involvement for parents with 12 and more years of schooling (136) versus involvement for parents with 11 or less years of schooling (260) gave only partial support to the speculation that parents with more education are more involved with their children’s school. Findings suggested that parental education might be related to the types of school activities in which Mexican-American parents participate.
  • Parents with more years of education indicated they participated with fundraising and attended school-sponsored functions more than parents with less education.
  • Parents with less education reported serving as room mother, helping their children with homework, and attending parent-teacher conferences more.
  • Although the two groups of parents differed in language use, it did not appear difficulties in communication deterred respondents from engaging in activities involving their children’s school. (Perhaps because 78% of the teachers at this particular school speak Spanish as well as English.)

Developed by Rose Foster for UW honors course HP4152, Spring 1999

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