The process of involving families in their children's education : a case study
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Three decades of research have shown that family involvement improves children's learning. Schools that help families feel welcome and show them how to improve learning both at school and at home are likely to have more support from parents and the community. It was the intent of this study to examine how exemplary family involvement programs and initiatives were put into place in an elementary school in Virginia.
The sources of evidence collected in the course of the 20 visits in this study were interviews, direct observations, and documentation. The research was conducted within components describing: (1) ways to get families from all social and ethnic backgrounds in the local community to participate in the school and at home, (2) the impact of policies on family involvement practices, (3) the effects of family involvement, (4) resources needed to promote and enhance family involvement initiatives, and (5) leadership in promoting family involvement in the school.
People representing different segments of the population were identified and interviewed. Administrators, teachers, parents, and community members who were knowledgeable about family involvement were interviewed. Separate sets of framing questions were formulated for central office administrative staff and the principal, teachers, parents and community members. All interviews were audio taped and transcribed. The investigator also attended and observed family involvement events in the school and reviewed documents related to family involvement during the data collection period.
Interview transcripts and observational notes were corroborated with evidence from document reviews. The investigator used a text management program, ASKSAM, to facilitate the identification and generation of themes in this study. The investigator integrated the computer-based and manual data analyses so that the advantages of each method were used.
The results of this study indicated that when the principal, with the cooperation of teachers, provided the type of school culture that made parents feel welcome in the school, the parents could provide the essential leadership that would lead to improvements in educational opportunities for their children. Resources, in terms of funding and staffing, were a prerequisite to getting "hard-to-reach" parents to participate in their children's education. The findings of this study also indicated that family involvement at the governance and decision-making level is relatively low.
- Doctoral Dissertations