Abstract: Parents As Teachers (PAT) Home-Visiting Intervention: A Path to Improved Academic Outcomes, School Behavior, and Parenting Skills (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Parents As Teachers (PAT) Home-Visiting Intervention: A Path to Improved Academic Outcomes, School Behavior, and Parenting Skills

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 9, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Caroline Evans, PhD, Adjunct Professor, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI
Michel Lahti, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, LeCroy & Milligan Associates, AZ
Gregory Goodman, PhD, Professor, Arizona State University, AZ
Craig LeCroy, Ph.D., Professor, Arizona State University, Tucson, AZ
Michele Schmidt, MPA, Senior Evaluation Associate, LeCroy & Milligan Associates, AZ
Background/Purpose: Parents as Teachers (PAT) is an innovative home visiting program that provides childhood family support and parent education beginning with pregnancy and extending until entry into kindergarten. Certified parent educators visit parents and children at home in order to address the specific needs of the family (e.g., improve parent-child communication and parent disciplinary skills). Research on PAT is limited and somewhat mixed, but overall suggests that PAT is associated with improved parent (e.g., increased health- and self-care literacy and child development knowledge, decreased child maltreatment) and child (e.g., increased mental processing, language abilities, and coping) outcomes. However, research has largely neglected to assess if PAT participation impacts specific forms of academic abilities (e.g., math, reading) or school attendance and suspensions. The current study filled these gaps and aimed to estimate if PAT participation was associated with improvements in child academic outcomes, school attendance, suspensions, and parenting skills relative to a group of students who did not participate in PAT. 

Method: Two predominantly Latino samples were analyzed separately: 1) Former PAT participants (n=625) and comparisons (n=3,125) with student achievement data in English Language Arts and math; 2) younger pre- and elementary-school PAT participants (n=983) and comparisons (n=4,915) with reading scores and parent/guardian data. Following propensity score matching a variety of statistical tests were run including ANCOVA, MANOVA, independent and dependent samples t-tests, gain score analysis, and Chi Square.

Results: PAT students performed better in English language arts/reading achievement compared to the comparison group; the improvement index was +4, corresponding to moving performance for the average student from the 50th to the 54th percentile of the comparison group distribution if the student had received the intervention. Further, PAT ELL students performed better than non-PAT ELL students on a test of English language learner achievement (d=0.063). PAT participation was also associated with a statistically significantly larger gain score mean for math achievement compared to non-PAT participation (d=0.28). PAT participants had a significantly lower rates of absenteeism and suspension rates (for one year) compared to comparison students. Pre-test to post-test, PAT parent interactions with children improved (d=0.48) as did their parenting knowledge (d=0.27).

Conclusion/Implications: The PAT program focuses on improving the family Microsystem by increasing parent knowledge about child development as well as improving parenting skills, both of which help improve parent-child social interactions and ultimately result in better developmental outcomes for the child. In addition, PAT strengthens family ties to the larger community (including various other Microsystems and the cultural Macrosystem) through access to medical care, community events, and social activities. Rather than viewing child development as only connected to the individual child, PAT uses an ecological view to improve the child’s family Microsystem, which greatly benefits the child and his/her development and translated into improved reading and math ability as well as better school attendance.