races/ethnicities and gender, the need for a renewed evaluation of the extent to which
parents are involved with their children’s education takes on added significance.
Perhaps as important as the picture of changing demographics is the trend toward
greater income inequality in America. According to Morris and Western (1999) the
United States’ economy is cyclical, and over the last three decades, median income has
fallen, and “the distribution of income has grown markedly more unequal[…]reversing a
pattern of earnings growth and equalization dating back to 1929” (p.623). Although it is
still premature to evaluate the economic collapse that began in late 2008, it is not difficult
to imagine that massive mortgage foreclosures and lost jobs would have a substantial
effect on parental involvement in their children’s academic progress — more than the
expected cyclical changes already mentioned. Changes in family income due to expected
and cyclical economic factors also necessitate revisiting prior research on parental
involvement in adolescent academic achievement.
Because the original research gives considerable attention to the effect of SES on
academic achievement, this research will do the same, lending itself well to several
sociological frameworks including structural / bureaucracy theories discussed by Weber,
and theories of social capital more recently discussed by Coleman. Even though limited
access to higher education, often a product of academic achievement, could be easily
viewed from Marx’s conflict theory perspective, this replication will most frequently
refer to Coleman’s theory of social capital. In fact, some of the literature on prior
research indicates that parental involvement is one form of social capital (see below).