Do home visits help? Impacts of home visits in the District of Columbia Public Schools

Do home visits help? Impacts of home visits in the District of Columbia Public Schools

By Xue Wang, Johns Hopkins University

Parent engagement plays an important role in student outcomes. Prior research shows that higher parent engagement is associated with better student outcomes such as higher attendance rates. Recent years have witnessed a growing number of programs intended to improve parent engagement. Yet, there is little evidence on the effectiveness of these programs. A recent study by the Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic examined the impacts of home visits conducted by trained teachers on the outcomes of students in grades 1-5 (N = 3,996) in the District of Columbia Public Schools.

Teachers and families could choose to participate or not in the home visits. Teachers received a 2-3 hour training, at which time they could begin home visits with families. Home visits took place either over the summer or during the school year. The visits typically last for 30 minutes, during which teachers and parents discuss parents’ expectations for their child’s education and the continuing of relationship building for parent engagement. Researchers use regression analysis to compare visited students with matched comparison students who did not receive visits. To estimate the average impact of home visits on disciplinary incidents, attendance rates, and student achievement scores measured at the end of the school year, data were collected across three school years (2014-15 – 2016-17).

The study found a 2.95 percentage point reduction (p<0.05) in disciplinary incidents in visited students, suggesting that home visits had a significant beneficial impact on disciplinary issues. The attendance rate for students who received a summer home visit averaged 95.28%, which is 0.35 percentage points higher (p<0.05) than comparison students (94.93%). The visited students’ math scores (z-score: 0.03) were slightly higher (p<0.05) than comparison students’ scores (z-score: -0.08). No significant difference was found between the two groups on English language arts scores. However, it should be noted that the findings may be subject to selection bias due to the propensity score matching design used in the study. Moreover, the lack of implementation fidelity data did not allow the exploration of the effects of the quality of the home visits.

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