Bridging Disciplinary Boundaries (January 11 - 14, 2007)


Relationship between School Mobility, Parent Involvement and Child Schooling: Evidence from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey

Jing Guo, University of California, Berkeley.

Purpose The U.S. has been characterized as a highly mobile society. Residential mobility often leads to school mobility for children, which causes challenges for children as well as schools. The objective of this study was to describe the impact of school mobility, parent involvement on school/behavior problems and parental education expectation for school-age children.

Methods This study draw on data of 1714 parents of 7 to 18-year-old children responding to the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (LA. FANS), which is a longitudinal study of families in Los Angeles County, California, and of the neighborhoods in which they live. 16% of sample in this study is parents of foreign-born child. 30% of sample is from non-two-parent family. School/behavior problems, parents were asked if the child has ever had special education need, grade repeated, expelled/suspended, disobedient in school, or trouble with teachers. Besides separate problem variables, an index of school/behavior problem was created by adding up scores of these dichotomy variables.

Results In regression modeling, School mobility, as assessed by reported number of attended schools adjusting to child's grade significantly increases the likelihood of school/behavior problems excepting problem of being expelled/suspended by school, (problem index, co-ef = .36, p<.01, special education need, or= 1.79, p <. 01, grade repeated, or= 2.77, p <. 01, expelled/suspended, or=1.24, p= .25, disobedient, or=1.62. p< .01, trouble with teachers, or= 1.48, p<. 05) and decreases parental education expectation, as how much schooling they expect their child will complete (co-ef = -.45, p <.01). Control variables, non-two-parent family structure and foreign born status, are strongly associated with adverse results on school/behavior problems and parental education expectation. Interestingly, school mobility is the only significant indicator for repeating a grade. Integrating parental involvement, as assessed by reported attendance of PTA/PTO, volunteering or other school events, into initial models, the adverse impact of school mobility has been slightly eliminated, although still significant (co-ef for regression and or for logit regression has changed). Meanwhile, adding parental involvement in regression model, foreign born status is no longer lowing parental education expectation.

Implication Frequent school mobility is strongly associated with an increasing likelihood of several school/behavior problems, and a drop of parental education for their child. Particularly, school mobility significantly increases the likelihood of repeating a grade. Parental involvement shows inverse impact on school/behavior problems and parental education expectation. School personnel, including school social workers, should pay attention to special needs of new coming transferred students, particularly for evaluating and grade setting during school translation. Moreover, schools should encourage parent involvement which could reduce potential problems.