The effect of the parent liaison on Latino student high school completion and parent involvement

Jeanne Thompson Walker

Abstract

The graduation rate for Latinos in the United States has consistently lagged behind the high school completion rate of White and Asian students in the United States. Efforts to bring equity to schools and improve high school success among Latinos have been inconsistent even after the implementation of No Child Left Behind Legislation. The use of a Spanish speaking parent liaison is gaining momentum as an intervention strategy in elementary schools, often funded by Title 1 grants to schools with large populations of socio-economically disadvantaged students. The Parent Liaison position is also being utilized in some high schools to encourage parental involvement, improve the academic performance, and the graduation rate among Latino high school students. This research study was designed to provide quantitative and qualitative data to document the impact of the Parent Liaison on parental involvement and Latino high school graduation. The graduation rate of Latino students in schools with a Liaison was analyzed and compared to the graduation rate of Latino students prior to the implementation of the liaison in the high school. The effect of the Parent Liaison on parental involvement was measured by a parent survey. Responses of parents with students in schools with a liaison were compared to responses of parents in schools without a liaison. In addition, three parent liaisons were interviewed to determine their perceived impact on student's graduation rate and parental involvement. Data analysis revealed that schools with a Latino parent liaison demonstrated generally positive trends in high school graduation rate levels. Parents in schools with and schools without liaisons communicated that they did or would use the liaison as a resource to communicate with the school and teachers regarding school progress and academic achievement. The majority of the parents identified as Latino indicated that they communicated most often in Spanish. Interviews of the Latino liaisons revealed common themes of importance in their interactions with parents and students: accessibility of liaison, mentoring Latino students, college admissions and financial information, identifying social, economic, and academic resources, teamwork with other school personnel, and communication with all stakeholders.