A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement

Henderson, A. T., and Berla, N. - 2002 - Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL)

The evidence is consistent, positive, and convincing: families have a major influence on their children’s achievement in school and through life. This fourth edition of Evidence confirms that the research continues to grow and build an ever-strengthening case. When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.

https://www.sedl.org/connections/resources/evidence.pdf


How the research is incorporated into Akwai's software

The following is an excerpt from the study:

The evidence is consistent, positive, and convincing: families have a major influence on their children’s achievement in school and through life. This fourth edition of Evidence confirms that the research continues to grow and build an ever-strengthening case. When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning,
children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.
How are the many ways that families are engaged in their children’s education related to achievement? Many studies found that students with involved parents, no matter what their income or background, were more likely to
• earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs.
• be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits.
• attend school regularly.
• have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school.
• graduate and go on to postsecondary education.
Several studies found that families of all income and education levels, and from all ethnic and cultural groups, are engaged in supporting their children’s learning at home. White, middle-class families, however, tend to be more involved at school. Supporting more involvement at school from all parents may be an important strategy for addressing the achievement gap.
Do programs and special efforts to engage families make a difference? Yes, several studies found that they do. For example, teacher outreach to parents was related to strong and consistent gains in student performance in both reading and math. The effective outreach practices included meeting face to face, sending materials home, and keeping in touch about progress. Workshops for parents on helping their children at home were linked to higher reading and math scores. Schools with highly rated partnership programs made greater gains on state tests than schools with lowerrated programs.
How do higher performing schools engage families and community? Schools that succeed in engaging families from very diverse backgrounds share three key practices. They
• focus on building trusting collaborative relationships among teachers, families, and community members.
• recognize, respect, and address families’ needs, as well as class and cultural difference.
embrace a philosophy of partnership where power and responsibility are shared.

The excerpt explains some of the benefits correlated with meaningful family and community engagement. The text that is bolded represents specific things that Akwai has incorporated. The app encourages students to invite all their relatives and adult family friends to join Akwai and become part of their Supporter Network. In fact, students' registration isn’t fully complete until they bring on a certain number of adults. On a quarterly basis, their Portfolio and Sub-Scores will be emailed to their Supporter Network.

Akawi empowers family members to become extremely effective in coaching the students to success. Rather than just giving students random strategies to work on – relatives can look at the students’ activity history, suggest an actionable plan and track the students’ progress as they execute the suggested strategy. 

Conversational Example 1: 

Mom: “Why are you failing math Timmy?”

Timmy: “I don’t know mom.”

Mom: “Well, you need to try harder son.” 

While this kind of advice is helpful, it is not very actionable. Parents who watch Akwai's simple training videos will be equipped to give advice and immediately start tracking its impact. Below is an example of how the conversation can take a different direction. 

Conversational Example 2:

Mom: “Why are you failing math Timmy?”

Timmy: “I don’t know mom.”

Mom: “Well let's take a look at your Portfolio. According to this, it looks like you aren't putting enough effort into your math studies. Use Akwai to start tracking the amount of effort you put into your homework."

Timmy: "Okay, I will add that Rating to my app"


Addressing the Achievement Gap

It is important to highlight how the excerpt above talks about the Achievement Gap. Studies show that student's [no matter their race, background, income or socioeconomic status] have more success when parents and family members are actively involved. Akwai's strategy parallels well with this quote, directly from the researchers, "Supporting more involvement at school from all parents may be an important strategy for addressing the achievement gap."


NCES's (National Center for Education Statistics) Findings

According to a different study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education (NCES), “one out of every four public school teachers cited lack parent involvement as a serious problem in their schools." This leads to lower high school graduation rates, less post-secondary education and an unqualified workforce. Through the mobile app Akwai ensures that parents and relatives are actively involved in their students’ development. As life skills are cultivated, the program guides students down a personalized action plan for improving grades and increasing motivation for educational attainment.