Family Structure and Parent Involvement in Children’s Education

Robert W. Ressler, University of Texas at Austin

Despite debates about the overall efficacy of parental involvement for improving children’s academic outcomes, such involvement remains a major concern of policymakers. Prior research establishes that family structure is associated with children’s academic achievement, and differences in academically relevant parenting behavior are often cited as a mechanism. Accordingly, this study uses the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort to explore variation in parental involvement in education across family structures. Grounded in a conceptual framework that contends that both the presence of a partner and the legal status of the partnership factors into parents’ involvement in learning at home and at school, we estimate fixed effects analyses to address the potential impact of stable unobserved confounds in links between mothers’ partnership statuses and parental involvement behaviors. The findings will help to elucidate a parenting mechanism of the divergent destinies phenomenon and to tailor parental involvement programs to specific segments of the population.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households