NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 26, 2008

While numerous education reforms over the last quarter century have demonstrated little impact on overall student achievement, the research clearly shows that the intact family structure and strong parental involvement are significantly correlated with educational outcomes, from school readiness to college completion.  Legislators should consider policies that strengthen family structure in America and bol­ster parental involvement and choice in education, says policy analyst Christine C. Kim of the Heritage Foundation.

The empirical evidence points to several policy implications:

  • Family policy intersects critically with education policy; fortifying the intact family structure may lead to improvements in individual student outcomes as well as the American education system as a whole.
  • Policies that strengthen healthy marriage and stable family formation may bolster child well-being, including school outcomes, both at the individual and aggregate levels.
  • Conversely, policies and laws that further facilitate family breakdown may have adverse impacts on children's educational outcomes and provide additional stress on the education system.


  • In education reform efforts, greater emphasis on parental involvement and parental choice could yield significant gains in student achievement and attainment.
  • Importantly, the research shows consistent benefits of high parental involvement for minority and low-income students, which deserves serious consideration in light of the achievement gap.
  • On the other hand, education initiatives that disregard the importance of families and parental involvement, instead focusing on strategies such as increased expenditures, are likely to continue to prove less effective or ineffective altogether.

Source: Christine C. Kim, "Academic Success Begins at Home: How Children Can Succeed in School," Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder No. 2185, September 22, 2008.


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