Promoting Parental Involvement in Schools: Evidence From Two Randomized Experiments
Parental involvement programs aim to increase school-and-parent communication and support children’s overall learning environment. This paper examines the effects of low-cost, group-based parental involvement interventions in Mexico using data from two randomized controlled trials. The first experiment provided financial resources to parent associations. The second experiment provided information to parents about how to support their children’s learning. Overall, the interventions induced different types of parental engagement in schools. The information intervention changed parenting behavior at home – with large effects among indigenous parents who have historically been discriminated and socially excluded – and improved student behavior in school. The grants did not impact parent or student behaviors. Notably, we do not find impacts of either intervention on educational achievement. To understand these null effects, we explore how social ties between parents and teachers evolved over the course of the two interventions. Parental involvement interventions led to significant changes in perceived trustworthiness between teachers and parents. The results suggest that parental involvement interventions can backfire if institutional rules are unclear about the expectations of parents and teachers as parents increase their involvement in schools.