The Children's Aid Society

Parents As Educators: The CAS Parent Leadership Institute

The project is designed to  bring its Parent Leadership Institute (PLI) to six public schools in a distressed community in the South Bronx, engaging parents of 500 students in varying levels of programming. The PLI model consists of four main components—Parent Resource Centers within school buildings, Parent Coordinators, Adult Education and Training, and Leadership Development—that work together to support parents in their role of primary lifelong educators. 

Description of Project

Using research-based strategies for school improvement (school leadership, curriculum alignment, professional staff, school climate, and parent-community-school ties), The Children's Aid Society (CAS) seeks to study strong parent-community-school ties in the proposed project. Evaluations have linked CAS' full-service community schools approach to higher rates of parental engagement and to student achievement. The link between parental participation and student achievement, however, could not be directly assessed using prior implementation procedures and evaluation designs. CAS proposes to bring the full set of parent engagement strategies piloted in the highly distressed NYC community of Washington Heights to another community, the South Bronx, to verify whether in-school parent resource centers, parent coordinators, adult education classes, leadership institutes, and selective life coaching lead to increases in student achievement.

Description of Evaluation

The evaluation will document the implementation of the CAS Parent Leadership Institute (PLI) at its partner schools. Research questions focus on the implementation of key project activities, achievement of parent participation targets, changes in parent engagement, and whether changes in parents’ behaviors are related to improved student outcomes. The evaluation, which began during the 2014-15 school year, will use participation data collected from participating schools to measure the extent to which the PLI is implemented as intended. Interviews with the parent coordinators, school personnel, and participating parents will provide additional insight into the implementation and effects of the PLI. To explore relationships between parent engagement and student outcomes, the evaluation will compare student-and school-level outcomes, including attendance and performance on statewide assessments, of participating schools and the children of participating parents with a sample of similar students and schools, respectively. Data collection activities will conclude during the 2016-17 school year.