Parents grateful that teachers make house calls
September 7, 1999
From Correspondent Don Knapp
SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- Can home visits from teachers help the academic performance of students? Educators and parents at nine elementary and middle schools in Sacramento, California, certainly think so.
After teachers paid 3,000 house calls to improve relations with the parents of their students, all nine schools in the city's unified school district pilot program reported improvement in the classroom.
Teacher Hoang Kim said home visits led to better academic achievement, improved discipline and increased parental involvement in her kindergarten class.
"I care for my students, and I know the families also care for the children and want to see them succeed," said Kim, one of some 150 teachers participating in the program.
Some parents, intimated by the school campus, have found it more comfortable to meet with teachers at home. After home visits, parent attendance at one school's meetings rose from as few as 30 to as many as 600.
Grateful parents have even invited teachers to dinner feasts. Jocelyn Graves, talking about her son, describes why parents are so appreciative.
"I used to cry at night because he took so long doing his homework," she said. "But with home visits I was able to communicate with his teacher more and we began to work more together, and my son did improve from that."
Principal Nancy Purcell said her elementary school gained 2 percent in attendance and had no student suspensions after the home visits. Math scores went up an average of 18 percent, reading almost 7.
Teachers say they have picked up some valuable extracurricular lessons as well from the house calls.
Middle school teacher Sara Tellman said she learned that one student "was an awesome Little League baseball player. And I used that with him to gain his trust in the classroom."
Teachers make about $25 an hour during home visits, but elementary school Principal Carol Sharp considers the money well-spent.
"As far as I'm concerned, if I had to say what programs do I have at the school that impact my children's success, home visits would be number one," she said.
One state legislator agrees, proposing to spend $20 million to expand the teacher home visits across the state.
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