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Flamboyan Funds Parent Teacher Home Visit Study that Ties Home Visits to Reduced Implicit Bias

Mindset Shifts and Parent Teacher Home Visits, a study funded in part by Flamboyan Foundation, commissioned by the Parent Teacher Home Visits (PTHV), and led by RTI International, suggests home visits decrease implicit bias among educators. Produced in thought-partnership with Flamboyan and PTHV, the study is the first of three studies that explore the impact and implementation of home visiting initiatives around the country.

Read the Executive Summary.

Research Questions:

  1. How are mindsets/implicit biases about race, class, and culture formed? Can they be shifted?
  2. In what ways are home visiting practices aligned with the research on approaches to changing implicit biases?
  3. Do educators and families feel Parent-Teacher Home Visits shift implicit biases/attitudes? If so, how?

Research suggests that teachers’ and families’ expectations of a student significantly impact academic achievement. Research also shows that teachers hold differing and lower expectations for students of color and low-income students, as compared with more affluent students, which is a key link to our educational achievement gap.  The current demographic reality also brings this into focus: most public school students in the United States are persons of color, yet, in 2012, it was reported that 83 percent of teachers were white females.

After hearing anecdotally from educators about the impact home visits had on teacher goal setting and teacher expectations, Flamboyan began to question the deeper impact of home visits on teachers’ negative implicit biases vis-à-vis students and families.  To seek answers to these questions the first phase of this three-part study was implemented.

From a synthesis of existing research, RTI International concluded that it is possible for educators and families to increase awareness of and reduce their negative implicit biases of one another.  The study revealed that prior to a home visit, families often reported viewing teachers as distant authority figures. After a home visit, however, families developed stronger and more equitable relationships with school staff and felt empowered to advocate for their child.  Additionally, after completing a home visit, many teachers recognized the shared characteristics between their own families and their student’s families.  Teachers also acknowledged that their students’ families had high ambitions for their children no matter the family’s race or class. Another important finding from the study was that teachers’ perceptions of students changed after finding out, for example, that a student has adult-like responsibilities at home in addition to schoolwork.

Home visits support mindset shifts and this family engagement strategy is aligned with evidence-based approaches that reduce negative implicit bias. Research from the first study concludes that home visits would have more of an impact if they:

  • incorporated strategies to intentionally target implicit biases;
  • provided opportunities for ongoing reflection by educators;
  • offered more home visit supports to families;
  • provided a more intentional focus on asset framing; and
  • considered of how to integrate home visits into systems approaches for decreasing implicit biases.

This spring, RTI International will complete phase two of the study, which seeks to discover how home visits are being implemented in four sites and what are the unique and shared implementation practices across the four sites. By fall of 2018, the three-part series will be completed with findings from the third study shedding light on academic and related outcomes of home visits.

Read the full study.
Read the Executive Summary.
Read The Washington Post and Education Week news coverage spotlighting the study’s findings.