Do home visits by teachers really improve student attendance? A new study from the Parent Teacher Home Visits (PTHV) program finds that the answer is a resounding yes.
The researchers found that students whose families were visited by a teacher as part of the PTHV model were 21 percent less likely to be chronically absent, compared with students whose families did not visit with a teacher at home.
Not only did individual students gain, but the study found that the home visits benefitted students even if their family didn’t participate in the school’s program. Students attending a school where teachers visited 10 percent or more families, had 22 percent lower odds of being chronically absent, when compared with students’ in schools that didn’t follow the PTHV model.
But the good news doesn’t stop here. Home visits also improve student achievement in both language arts and in some schools, math scores. In schools providing home visits with at least 10 percent of families, students were 35 percent more likely to score proficiently on standardized English Language Arts tests.
Math scores increased in schools in two districts that implement the PTHV model, compared with schools that did not conduct as many as home visits.
The research, by Steven Sheldon of Johns Hopkins University, looked at the impact of home visits on over 100,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, in hundreds of schools in four urban highly diverse districts, and examined data from the 2016-17 school year.
It is the third of a three-study national evaluation of PTHV’s model. The first study showed that the model builds understanding and trust, reduces anxiety, and fosters positive interactions between educators and families. The second study looked at how the PTHV model is implemented and concluded that PTHV’s five core practices were highly effective, valued by practitioners, and should maintain their “non-negotiable” status.
Attendance Works has seen the impact of this approach first-hand while working together in school districts. The relationships established through the PTHV model ensure that students are motivated to come to school because they are hopeful about their future and they believe that their teachers will help them arrive at that future, writes Attendance Works Executive Director Hedy Chang in the report’s foreword.
The PTHV model has its roots in Sacramento, California, when in 1998, a group of teachers and families in a low-income neighborhood came together to address a deep distrust between the school district and the community. Today, PTHV works in over 700 communities in 25 states.
The program is based on the understanding that families are essential for children’s academic success. Children whose families hold high expectations, set goals, monitor progress, and actively assist with learning at home are most likely to do well in school, the report notes.
Done in the summer or fall, home visits establish rapport early, before any problems arise. After the first visit, the family and the teachers continue to build upon their connection. Specific issues, like chronic absence, may be addressed in follow up communications, including a second visit. At this point, teachers and parents can develop a shared understanding of why chronic absence is an important issue, how missing school might be holding the child back, and what the causes are behind the absences. Working together, the adults can develop a plan to improve the student’s attendance. Find out more about how the PTHV model can be used by teachers to improve attendance.
The relationships created through home visits can ensure that students and families feel comfortable seeking out advice and assistance if they encounter a challenge that creates a barrier to getting to school or results in trouble focusing when in class. As this report shows, PTHV is an invaluable strategy that schools can use to make a measurable difference, Chang writes.
Read the full report, Student Outcomes and Parent Teacher Home Visits.