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Volunteering for Student Success: When Parents, Communities, and Teachers Connect

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A number of research studies in the United States have shown that students from kindergarten through grade twelve make greater achievement gains when their parents are aware, knowledgeable, and encouraging about their school experience (Epstein, 1990; Henderson & Mapp, 2002).  In response to these findings, the No Child Left Behind mandate of 2001 requires that parents and the community are welcomed into the school.  However, 78% of colleges of education in the United States do not systematically instruct teacher candidates concerning parent/community alliances.  The authors of this article describe a pilot study in which pre-service teachers are instructed about parent and community involvement and other volunteering in the schools.  The pilot study is financed with a grant from the Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) and is being conducted with students from four diverse universities:  the University of North Texas, the University of North Dakota, the University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of Mississippi.

This article is written from the point of view of experienced teachers who work with students in colleges of education and promote online curriculum modules as a vehicle for instruction regarding volunteerism.  Volunteering is one of the six National Parent-Teacher Association National Standards and, as such, is discussed in that role in this writing.