It's no secret, especially to parent group leaders, that schools can use all the support they can get these days in helping students succeed.

Parent groups already play a huge role in building a supportive school community and getting parents connected to the school in a positive way. And that's key. Research shows that when parents get involved in their children's education, good things happen. Students get better grades, score higher on tests, and have fewer discipline problems, for example.

But you can also have a more direct impact on student achievement, and many PTOs and PTAs do. The first step is to communicate with the principal about the school's goals, and to keep them in mind when planning activities. If reading is a focus, you might hold aFamily Reading Night, for instance. Also, think about creating an educational component to even the simplest events. Are you organizing a landscaping day? Take the opportunity to teach kids a little about plants.

Here are links to two articles that spell out how to have a more focused impact on student achievement at your school: