Supporting & empowering parents to reclaim responsibility for raising
healthy children through; education, advocacy & networking.

A Research Evaluation By Cobb Community Parents In Action
For: Parents on Board
Building Academic Success Through Parent Involvement

A video-based parenting education
program by Active Parenting Publishers.


During the 1997-98 school year, Cobb Community Parents in Action (Cobb County, Georgia) selected the Parents on Board program as the primary resource for a new initiative. This new initiative involved the twin goals of school readiness and parent involvement. The primary goal of the organization is to give parents the opportunity to network with professionals in the community to improve the lives of their children.

The Parents on Board program was chosen for the new initiative because it mirrored the group’s own goals of establishing connections between home and school by focusing on parent involvement. The group was already using two Active Parenting Publishers sister programs, Active Parenting Today and Active Parenting of Teens.

The Active Parenting programs are based on the Adlerian parent-education model, which emphasizes the child’s psychological and behavioral goals, logical and natural consequences, mutual respect, and encouragement techniques. This model was developed from concepts originated by Alfred Adler, and was applied to child rearing by Dreikurs and Soltz (1964), Dinkmeyer and McKay (1976) and Michael Popkin, Ph.D. (1983), who developed the Active Parenting programs.

Program Goal/Hypothesis

Parents will demonstrate increased knowledge of, and capacity for, building their children’s academic success through parent involvement.

Program Setup

The program was initiated at eight elementary schools throughout Cobb County (See Appendix A*). Cobb Community Parents In Action partnered with personnel at each school to give parents the opportunity to interact with staff members who would be able to assist them after the workshop ended. This included learner support specialists, guidance counselors and special instructional assistants to social workers, the PTA, and administrative personnel (Appendix B*).

The workshops were completed in three sessions (Appendix C*). A total of 141 parents of K-5 students were served. A total of 69 staff hours were required, including preparation time. A total of 774 man-hours were required, including participant time.

To address the issue of quality control among program facilitators, the organization has a two-day leadership institute which provides generic facilitation skills. The group selected Parents on Board because the materials were judged to be so well put together that the program would be particularly easy to lead.

Evaluation Process

Pre- and post-evaluation questionnaires were used; 136 were returned (Appendix D*). A 12-person focus group was conducted, and individual feedback was also captured.

In addition, a monthly staff activity summary was developed, along with multi-session attendance rosters.


Objective #1:

Of the parents who participated, 89% have structured a “school-smart home.” “School-smart home” is defined as providing for:

  1. Basic physical needs (health, nutrition, exercise and sleep);
  2. Rules, routines, expectations and an organized environment conducive to learning;
  3. Supportive, family-friendly resources for child-rearing.

Objective #2:

Of the parents who participated, 87% learned to use encouragement to foster positive behavior in their children. Use of encouragement is defined as:

  1. Illustrating four ways parents can and will encourage children;
  2. Development of three discipline tools for encouraging responsible behavior in children;
  3. Support of school discipline policies;
  4. Building and utilizing family cultural strengths.

Objective #3:

Of the parents who participated, 91% encourage school readiness and academic achievement. School readiness and achievement encouragement is defined as:

  1. Limiting and monitoring TV exposure;
  2. Learning seven ways to be a positive academic coach;
  3. Using specific activities to enhance children’s reading, spelling, writing, math and science skills;
  4. Active demonstration of parental involvement as children’s first and most important teacher.
    See Appendix E for complete results.*

Staff Trainer Individual Observations:

  • Local school partners having demonstrated commitment from administrators were more likely to have highest attendance and retention for all sessions-i.e., schools that had the greatest response from parents throughout the course of the workshops were those whose principals were in attendance at the sessions.”At some schools the principal welcomed the parents and thanked them for sending their children to the school. This set the tone for the workshop. Parents felt like they belonged and that the school considered them and their children to be important.”
  • Parent participants appreciated curriculum guidebooks. Those schools purchasing books for parents vs. those schools passing the cost of books on to participants had no higher attendance or retention rates at sessions.
  • Parents could readily identify with the Parents on Board term “coach” vs. “teacher.” They responded positively to the distinction that helping their child means creating good study habits and a productive study environment, not actually doing homework for the child.”I want to learn how to help my child with school work without having to do it for him. I don’t feel like a good teacher.”
  • Parents were particularly responsive to the sessions on learning styles, health and safety.
    “Parents liked reviewing the basic health skills we take for granted. Many learned they were not paying enough attention to the sleep patterns of their children.”

Session Activity Summary:

Session I:

Good attendance; registration and distribution of parent guidebooks went smoothly; slightly difficult to engage group (common at first sessions); ran late (miscommunication); great to have principal and staff well-represented; nice handout with school personnel resources. Pre/post evaluation forms collected (15)-noticed some movement from “disagree” to “agree” and from “agree” to “strongly agree” in parents’ feelings or perception of change.

Session II:

Drop in attendance; lots of good discussion/questions regarding encouragement and positive discipline; great group interaction; seemed to like using guidebook; several people struggled with the concept of encouragement and positive discipline. Pre/post evaluation forms collected (10)-noticed almost no movement; most responded “neither” or “agree” and only a few perceived a change to “strongly agree”.

Session III:

Folks responded particularly well to “parents as coach” model presented; lots of questions; folks did not seem to be reading parent guidebook between sessions; parents liked getting points for attendance. Pre/post evaluation forms collected (7)-not much movement from across the board on this one.

Focus Group Findings:

  • 90% of focus group participants rated the learning styles segment as “most helpful”
  • 95% of focus group participants perceived the term “parents as coach” considerably more comfortable than “parents as teacher” for themselves and their parent peers
  • 86% of focus group participants requested additional information and support regarding necessary family homework/study structure
  • 43% of focus group participants reported encouraging language development and thinking through reading with their children
  • 89% of focus group participants demonstrated three ways to be a positive academic coach to their children
  • 74% of focus group participants reported personal success stories of how they had used encouragement to develop positive behavior in their children.


Based on the evaluation summary, the Parents on Board program overwhelmingly met its goals. Cobb Community Parents In Action has evaluated the program as a “great success in a relatively short time.” The eight schools where the program was implemented continue to facilitate the program on their own, and other schools in the system are considering using it as well.

* Call 800-825-0060 or send an e-mail for appendix charts