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The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement with Children's Education Hardcover – 7 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (7 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674725107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674725102
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,344,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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In the largest-ever study of how parental involvement affects academic achievement, Keith Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Angel L. Harris, a sociology professor at Duke, mostly found that it doesn t. The researchers combed through nearly three decades worth of longitudinal surveys of American parents and tracked 63 different measures of parental participation in kids academic lives, from helping them with homework, to talking with them about college plans, to volunteering at their schools. In an attempt to show whether the kids of more-involved parents improved over time, the researchers indexed these measures to children s academic performance, including test scores in reading and math. What they found surprised them. Most measurable forms of parental involvement seem to yield few academic dividends for kids, or even to backfire--regardless of a parent s race, class, or level of education They did find a handful of habits that make a difference, such as reading aloud to young kids (fewer than half of whom are read to daily) and talking with teenagers about college plans. But these interventions don t take place at school or in the presence of teachers, where policy makers exert the most influence--they take place at home.--Dana Goldstein"The Atlantic" (04/01/2014)"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
An insightful piece of scholarly work that warrants more research 28 April 2014
By Yueran Zhang - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read the two bad reviews here on Amazon, and more critiques of this kind in other news outlets, I cannot help suspecting that authors of these reviews have NOT actually read the book. If they had done so, they would have recognized that in the book, Robinson and Harris never overstep what the data says and make audacious claims like "parenting is harmful for children." A piece of real scholarly work, this book does NOT intend to examine effects of family engagement on kids' development in general, but instead, its sole purpose is to look into whether behaviors of parental involvement with SPECIFIC GOALS to increase kids' academic performance really work. Using a simple but rigorous quantitative method (OLS) to analyze several large datasets, Robinson and Harris do not find prevalent positive association between various behaviors of parental involvement with SPECIFIC GOALS to increase kids' academic performance and kids' academic performance measured by standard test scores and GPA, and they conclude that these specific behaviors (NOT parental engagement in general) are ineffective the way they are currently implemented.
The book is significant and thought-provoking, urging us to shift the focal point of public policy discourse and academic research from HOW MUCH parents should be involved to HOW parents should be involved (in fact, the idea of "stage-setting" that Robinson and Harris explore towards the end of the book is a very good starting point for further empirical research and theorization). It will definitely stand any serious critical examination with its conceptual clarity, robust findings, and arguments meticulously made based on the findings.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Actually read the book! 7 May 2014
By emolivos - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It appears that those who positively reviewed this book are those folks who've actually read it and not just the NY Times opinion piece. This book is really good and these authors are not the only ones making these arguments--their literature review and framework are very well researched. Their arguments are actually commonsensical--not all forms of parental involvement are the same across social groups (class, education level, cultural background, etc.) and not all forms of involvement are valued and recognized equally by schools and policymakers (they have a preference for certain behaviors). These authors are challenging the notion of a one-size-fits-all paradigm of parental involvement that rests in the minds of policymakers and educators. This study raises good questions and is a great addition to the literature on parental involvement in schools.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent review of the actual effects of parent involvement in academics 10 July 2014
By Splart - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Robinson does a great job of reviewing the actual impact of parent involvement on academic performance. The conclusions are often startling, and gave me a new appreciation and compassion for those with a less academic environment.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A much-needed contribution 28 April 2014
By happymedium16 - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an extremely thorough examination of the long-assumed connection between parental involvement and children's academic performance. Policy makers, teachers, and nonprofits have often parroted the importance of parental involvement in order to facilitate students' academic success. This is, to date, the most extensive investigation of the effects of parental involvement. The usage of multiple datasets and the many, many ways in which the authors measure parental involvement suggest that the conclusion is undeniable: parental involvement in schooling generally does not aid students' achievement, and any racial disparities in parental involvement do not explain the racial achievement gap.

It is evident that most negative reactions to this book are knee-jerk impulses to the notion that parents' involvement in schooling does not help kids do better academically. However, Robinson & Harris are not in the business of telling people what they want to hear. They're in the business of social science, and in the case of parental involvement in schooling, the science is clear.
12 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Absurdly bad scholarship 16 April 2014
By camper - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What a terrible example of cherry picking statistics in a desperate attempt to grab a headline.
There is a long list of ways families can be involved in their child’s education. There is an equally long list of positive outcomes for children that result from family engagement. These “scholars” cherry picked ways to be involved and outcomes until they found a handful of questionable relationships. With this, they ran to every newspaper they could find with inflated claims that that parent involvement has no positive impact on children.
Family engagement in education has been studied for probably 70 years. Decades of research have concluded, overall, family engagement in education promotes positive outcomes for kids. Outcomes like increased rates of high school graduation, increased enrollment in college, decreased substance abuse, decreased violence in schools and on and on.
Perhaps the only real lesson that can be extrapolated from this abysmal example of scholarship is that research is more of an art than a science. Statistics can be contorted to support any headline a person wants to publish.
I would suggest you google "Inflated Research Claims Can Harm Children", the author nicely lays out the basics of just how absurd this publication really is.
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