Research Triangle Park, NC —How does knowledge of a student’s home life influence the way their teacher teaches? How can you get parents and teachers working from the same page to drive student success?
Through a new study awarded by Parent Teacher Home Visits (PTHV), a national nonprofit, education researchers from RTI International will study how home visits affect teachers’ perceptions of their students’ families, and how these perceptions may inform how they teach.
“In our nation’s public schools today, most teachers are white, middle class, and female, while most of their students’ families are people of color living in low-income neighborhoods. Even well-meaning educators can have unconscious assumptions about their students’ home lives, which become barriers to forming effective collaborations with parents,” said Jennifer Laird, PhD, project lead and program director in RTI’s Center for Evaluation and Study of Educational Equity.
Historically, schools have used home visits as interventions to problems, but the PTHV model was created by parents and community organizers with the aim of building cooperation across the board, without targeting “problem students.” “Research has shown the value of home visits, particularly in early childhood. They build trust among teachers and parents and encourage communication,” Laird said. “However, fewer studies have examined the PTHV model of K-12 home visit programs, and little research has been conducted to understand how these visits shift teachers understanding of their students and use that understanding to shift practice.”
RTI’s study will explore the relationship between PTHV and shifts in teacher and family mindsets. The study will begin with a multidisciplinary literature review of cognitive bias and promising practices for disrupting biases in schools related to ethnicity and culture. The researchers will then conduct in-person interviews and focus groups with teachers and parents from four large districts using PTHV to better understand whether and how meeting families in their home leads to positive mindset shifts among teachers and parents.
As part of this study, RTI is creating an evaluation advisory group made up of representatives from PTHV, as well as parents, teachers, and leadership from schools participating in the program. Findings from this study will support the refinement of PTHV practices. RTI and PTHV, in partnership with Dr. Steven Sheldon from Johns Hopkins University, also plan to extend this research to examine how the home visit program is being implemented across the four sites and its impact on parent engagement and student achievement.
To learn more about PTHV, visit pthvp.org.