Of all the laws of the nation with regard to education, NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Education Act) are unequivocally the most important. Together these two acts ensure the future of the nation’s young population. NCLB ensures that all children receive education irrespective of race, economic status, or other discrimination. And IDEA provides for the special needs of children with disabilities. NCLB also includes children with disabilities. As far as school education is concerned these laws take care of all students in the United States. But are these laws alone enough to ensure that the students – particularly those with difficulties – receive the support necessary for their education and well being? (Cortiella, 2006).
A school can provide special teachers to look after the needs of disabled children. They can allow some concessions for such children .They can provide individualized education to such children. But can they provide the emotional support for the well being of the child? A teacher can only teach the child what is specified in the course. But can she ensure that the child actually learns something? Probably to some extent if the teacher is dedicated and sincere. Emotional support for a child however, can only come from the primary caregiver, usually the mother and father. The parents of a child hold a special place in his life. It is our contention that if the parents are involved in the education of the child, he can perform better and achieve greater heights.
Different individuals have different levels of intelligence. The average IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of an individual is 100. If the IQ of an individual is 70 or below, the individual is considered to be having an intellectual disability. Generally people with intellectual disabilities face difficulties with academics, learning new things, processing information, understanding concepts, grasping the nuances of personal interaction, planning, and sequencing. (Tracy). In children the main focus is on academics and poor performance in academics is the first indication that the child may have an intellectual disability. Parents are likely to treat any social inappropriateness as mere childishness. Children are not expected to display high levels of planning and organization ability. As far as academics are concerned, parents send their children for coaching and blame any poor performance on the inability of the teacher to teach. If the parents are more involved with the education of the child, they may be able to identify the disabilities earlier. The parents can also provide emotional support for the child to deal with the disability and its associated problems. In this paper we attempt to answer the question “How does parental participation affect students with mild/moderate disability performance directly or indirectly?”
The purpose of this study is to understand whether parental participation directly affects the performance of students with mild/moderate disability. The study also suggests methods to be adopted by school teachers to accommodate such students in the classroom.
We conducted a search in different databases like EBSCOhost and Jstor, and used a combination of the following key words to identify 10 different studies for the purpose of this research.
Keywords: intellectual disability, parental involvement, children’s education.
We examine each study in detail and compare the results of the studies to draw our conclusions.
Description and Evaluation
In this section we summarize the selected studies. The description is followed by our findings and their implications and finally a concluding paragraph giving our final comments on the subject.
Susanne Carter; The impact of parent / family involvement on student outcomes: an annotated bibliography of research from the past decade
The study by Carter (2002) begins with a quote by Anne T. Henderson, the Author of The Evidence Continues to Grow “When parents become involved, children do better in school, and they go to better schools.” Carter examines parental involvement at different levels. These levels include namely, involvement during elementary school, middle school, and secondary school, impact of ethnicity and culture, involvement at home and school, involvement with homework, and parents working in co-ordination with the school and community. Carter (2002) contends that involvement at home is more beneficial than involvement in school activities that the pattern of involvement is different during the different developmental stages, and that students perform better when school and parents work in co-ordination.
Sue Bitsko, Donna Phipps, Alice Roehrs, Marge Barnheiser; Parent involvement: strategies for success
Bitsko et al. present a framework of parental involvement in the lives of their children on several fronts namely parenting, volunteering, home-based learning, and community programs. Through their paper the authors suggest ways in which the schools can ensure parental involvement. They suggest conducting periodical workshops for parents where the parents, informing parents about their children’s performance periodically by establishing open communication between parent and teacher, allowing parents of children with intellectual disabilities to volunteer in school activities, accommodating them so that their schedule is not unduly disturbed, assist parents in home-based learning by discussing homework assignments, discussing the issues of the child with the parents and engaging in joint effort to address these issues, and organizing community activities. Bitsko et. al., refer to the Ohio Parent Involvement Law, (OPIL), 1992 which requires that parents should be provided opportunities to be involved in the education of their children. According to OPIL, parental involvement directly affects the academic success of the children.
Patricia Robledo-Ramón and Jesús-Nicasio García-Sánchez (2012); The family environment of students with learning disabilities and ADHD
In this study Robledo-Ramon and Garcia-Sanchez (2012), examine the differences in family structure between students with disabilities and those with no disabilities. They also compare the attitudes of the parents and children in the two groups. The main aim of the study is to understand the difference in perception among parents and wether parents of disabled children view the environment differently as compared to parents with no disabled children. Robledo-Ramon and Garcia-Sanchez (2012) found that parents of students with disabilities were not as educated as those of normal children, that Learning Disabilities (LD) were genetic, and that children with ADHD came from bigger families with more siblings. Families of normal children encouraged writing and reading at home. The authors conclude that parental education and genetics are two major factors affecting the success of children with disabilities. The creation of “academic atmosphere” at home as happened with children from the normal group, encouraged studying, and contributed to the success of the children.
Diane Marie Dabkowski; Encouraging active parent participation in IEP team meetings
In this paper, Dabkowski (2004) presents the importance of team culture in the education of children with disabilities. Dabkowski focuses on the planning of an Individualized Education Plan for such children and the importance of parents and teachers working together to devise and implement the plan. The author describes team culture as the beliefs of the members of the team, the methods of sharing information and the participation by the members. Dabkowski suggests that a comfortable environment that offers both physical and mental comfort should be created by the parents and teachers working together. The parents must receive support from the teachers to encourage their participation. This will ensure continued participation of the parents and result in the academic success of the child.
Desforges examines the spontaneous involvement of parents in the education of their child as against spontaneous participation as a result of intervention. The paper is presented as a literature review of earlier research on the subject. Desforges found that there are many forms of parental involvement. The extent of involvement and the form of involvement is influenced by social and economic factors. Involvement reduces as the child grows. Involvement is influenced by the child’s success. At-home parenting is the biggest contributor towards success of the child. Desforges concludes that there is sufficient research to show that spontaneous parental involvement has a positive impact on academic success. Interventions to encourage involvement of the parents are partially successful. The available knowledge needs to be applied to encourage parental involvement, particularly among working class population.
Yun Mo Kusum Singh Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA; Parents’ relationships and involvement: effects on students’ school engagement and performance
This study by Yun Mo Kusum Singh, examines the extent of parental involvement in the lives of their children and its impact on the children’s performance and behaviour in school as well as their cognitive development. The study concluded that parental involvement is more in lower grades and decreases as children grow. Students whose parents continue to be involved through the middle school years show better performance than those whose parents do not remain involved. Singh (2008) suggests that involvement during middle school will be beneficial. Schools should encourage participation through co-curricular activities, keep parents informed about the overall development of their child, and involve them in decisions about education. Creating a flow of information and an atmosphere of co-ordination will encourage the child to participate in educational activities and ensure success.
Michigan Department of Education; What research says about parent involvement in children’s education in relation to academic achievement; Decision Making Yardstick 2001
This paper presents a brief about the research on different types of parental involvement in the education of their children. The paper also presents Epstein’s framework on the type of involvement. The paper is a guideline issued by the Michigan Department of Education for decisions regarding intervention. The guidelines state that the earlier the stage of involvement the better the impact on education. Children whose parents are involved in their education attend school regularly, score higher grades, are better motivated, and have fewer adverse incidents in school. The Michigan Department of Education suggests that parents who are not aware how to help in the education of their child can be guided and support can be provided to encourage a learning atmosphere at home through home-learning activities.
Hafiz Muhammad Waqas Rafiq, Tehsin Fatima, Malik Muhammad Sohail, Muhammad Saleem, Muhammad Ali Khan; Parental involvement and academic achievement; a study on secondary school students of Lahore, Pakistan
In this study, Hafiz Muhammad Waqas Rafiq et. al. (Rafiq et. al., 2013), explore the impact of parental involvement on academic achievement. For the study, 150 boys and girls from public and private schools were chosen. Data was collected through a questionnaire. The data was statistically analysed and the study found that the level of parental involvement and the level of academic achievement were related to one another. Epstein’s framework of parental involvement at six levels was proved viable.
Lex Frieden, Chairperson National Council on Disability; Improving educational outcomes for students with disabilities may 17, 2004
Improving Improving Educational Outcomes for Students with Disabilities was a project undertaken by the National Council on Disability (NCD, 2004). 16 organizations including schools and development centers participated in the project. The main aim of the project was to identify the practices that aid the Federal Government’s aim of leaving no child behind and to promote programs and practices to ensure equal opportunity for every child. The paper examined the impact of NCLB (No Child Left Behind) & IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and how the stakeholders will manage the processes required to ensure the success of NCLB and IDEA. The study found that the concepts of IDEA and NCLB have been well received. Efforts are being made to incorporate practices for inclusion of children with disabilities and easing their transition from youth to adult hood.
Candace Cortiella; The Advocacy Institute August 2006; What parents of students with disabilities need to know and do
Cortiella explains the provisions of NCLB and IDEA in detail and outlines a framework for parents of children with disabilities. The paper is aimed at spreading knowledge about intellectual disabilities, what the government is doing in this regard through NCLB & IDEA, and what the parents can do to help their children. The paper concludes with a question and answer page where questions from some parents have been answered. The project is an undertaking of the NCD.
Findings and Implications
Based on the review of literature with regard to intellectual disabilities among children and the role of parents in the lives of such children, research has proved that parental involvement in the lives of children plays a major role in their academic success. There are different types of involvement. The viability of Epstein’s framework of six types of involvement has been proved by Rafiq et. al. (2013), as also by the Michigan Department of Education (2001). The six types of involvement outlined in this paper are parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community. Of these involvement at home in the form of parenting, communicating, and learning at home are the most important as proved by Carter (2002), and Robledo-Ramon & Garcia-Sanchez (2012). This research has also shown that the provisions of NCLB and IDEA have been well received. Schools, practitioners, and other institutions are taking steps to incorporate the provisions and provide the necessary support and guidance to parents of children with disabilities. Another outcome of this research is that the level of parental education has an impact on the academic success of the child. (Carter, 2002). Also the pattern of involvement changes as the child grows. Children of parents who continue stay involved through the child’s middle school years perform better than parents whose involvement decreases, as the child grows older. (Singh, 2008). We may conclude therefore that it is an unequivocal fact that parental involvement plays a major role in the academic performance of the child.
Reflection and Final Comments
Intellectual disability is defined by the level of intelligence of an individual. An individual with an IQ of 70 or below is deemed to have an intellectual disability. (Tracy). Children who have an intellectual disability are unable to perform as well as other “normal” children. Parents of such children face a challenge in meeting the educational demands of their children. If the child has siblings, the parent is often unable to give the disabled child the extra care and attention he demands. NCLB and IDEA are efforts on the part of the government to help in the education and overall development of such children. Schools, development centres, practitioners, and other institutions have accepted the provisions of NCLB and IDEA. Efforts have been initiated to provide support and guidance to parents of intellectually disabled children. Researchers have delved into the impact of NCLB and IDEA on schools, parents, and practitioners. Our research review brings out the fact that parents need to be more involved in the education of their children. Parents can be involved in their children’s lives in different ways. As parents merely looking after the health and general upbringing of their child, being involved in their homework, being involved in their extra curricular activities and being involved at school. The extent of involvement in these areas is dependant on the level of education of the parents, the general atmosphere at home, and the socio-economic status of the parents. Educated parents are more likely to support their children and help in their homework. They are more likely to encourage studying at home and involve their children in writing and reading activities. Parents who come from a good socio economic background are more likely to be involved in activities at school and in the community. Such parents are likely to take the initiative to organize such activities. Uneducated parents, while being good parents, are unable to participate in the education of their children. Parents of such children if disabled show poor academic performance as compared to disabled children of educated parents.
The need of the hour is to spread the knowledge about intellectual disability, its various types, intervention methods and what parents can do to help their children. Schools must organized programmes for parental involvement to provide the parents with practical knowledge for dealing with the disabilities of their children.
In conclusion we may state that although efforts have been initiated to help children with intellectual disabilities, the road is long and there is still a lot of ground to be covered.
Candace Cortiella (2006) What Parents of Students with Disabilities Need to Know and Do Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute August 2006.
Diane Marie Dabkowski (2004) Encouraging active parent participation in IEP team meetings teaching exceptional children, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 34-39. Copyright 2004 CEC.
Dr Jane Tracy (n.d); Intellectual disability; Centre for Developmental Health Victoria
Hafiz Muhammad Waqas Rafiq, Tehsin Fatima, Malik Muhammad Sohail, Muhammad Saleem, Muhammad Ali Khan (2013); Parental Involvement and academic achievement; a study on secondary school students of Lahore, Pakistan; International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 3 No. 8 [Special Issue – April 2013]
Lex Frieden, Chairperson NCD (2004); improving educational outcomes for students with disabilities National Council on Disability May 17, 2004
Patricia Robledo-Ramón and Jesús-Nicasio García-Sánchez (2012). The family environment of students with learning disabilities and ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Dr. Wichian Sittiprapaporn (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51- 0269-4, InTech, Available from:
Sue Bitsko, Donna Phipps, Alice Roehrs, Marge Barnheiser; (n.d); Parent involvement: strategies for success
Susanne Carter (2002); The impact of parent / family involvement on student outcomes: an annotated bibliography of research from the past decade FALL 2002
Michigan Department of Education (2001); What research says about parent involvement in children’s education in relation to academic achievement; Decision Making Yardstick 2001
Yun Mo Kusum Singh (2008); Parents’ relationships and involvement: effects on students’ school engagement and performance Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA; 2008 • Volume 31 • Number 10 ISSN 1940-4476