Other Voices

School overcrowding shines light on the key ingredient to student success

FWISD held a forum for supporters and opponents of easing overcrowding at Tanglewood Elementary School.
FWISD held a forum for supporters and opponents of easing overcrowding at Tanglewood Elementary School. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

The need to alleviate overcrowding at some Fort Worth schools shines a spotlight on an important consideration as our community pursues strong educational outcomes for all local children.

Two schools have been central to the discussion around local population growth and educational facilities: Tanglewood Elementary and Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center.

Because both are higher-performing campuses, they offer an important lesson for us to consider: Great schools have something in common — high levels of parent engagement.

Research tells us that regardless of a child’s income or background, students whose parents are involved in their education are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, and to attend school regularly.

They are more likely to pass their classes and be promoted. And they have an increased likelihood of graduating and going on to post-secondary education.

The most accurate predictor of student achievement in school is not family income or social status. It’s whether families have the tools and resources to create a home environment that encourages learning and become involved in their child’s education at school.

When parents are involved at school, the performance of all the children at the school — not just their own — improves.

Evidence also shows that the more comprehensive and well-planned the partnership is between school and home, the higher student achievement goes.

We’ve seen proof of this in action at Lena Pope’s public charter school in south Fort Worth, Chapel Hill Academy, where students outscore performance on the STAAR test as compared with other regional schools that have similar demographics.

Parent engagement is intentionally nurtured at Chapel Hill Academy through vehicles such as a Parent Advisory Council and Parent University, a series of informational classes for caregivers.

Academic success isn’t a secret recipe. We know what leads to strong student outcomes. One of the key ingredients is parent engagement.

As our community looks at infrastructure to accommodate the needs of local students throughout the city and county, this is an important reminder that we should also be proactively planning ways to increase parental involvement at all local schools.

When we do, every child will have a strong start regardless of their campus location or size.

Todd Landry is the Chief Executive Officer of Lena Pope, a local non-profit that serves children and families.