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Home and school factors impacting parental involvement in a title I elementary school.

Before and after the interventions of summer classes for parents and an interactive homework program, parents of children in an inner-city southeastern U.S. elementary school were interviewed and teachers surveyed to determine home and school factors that impacted parental involvement in their children's education. Beliefs about roles and perceptions of life contexts consistently indicated that these mostly high-school-educated, African American parents in a Title I school were involved in the education of their elementary school-age children, at home and school. Self-reported teacher behaviors included an increase in helping parents to establish home environments more conducive to support children, more regular communication, more involvement of parents in decision-making, and more involvement in the community. Results about factors influencing involvement at home were basically the same for these Title I parents as factors more often associated with higher socioeconomic status parents. School practices indicated that teachers need to better understand the lives that Title I parents live, as well as how to help parents improve their efforts to support children's education, at home and school.

Keywords: parental involvement, parent and teacher perceptions, Title I student achievement

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Researchers show that children learn more when their parents are directly involved in their education. Hoover-Dempsey and colleagues (2005) reported:
 Whether construed as home-based behaviors (e.g., helping with
 homework), school-based activities (e.g., attending school events),
 or parent-teacher communication (e.g., talking with the teacher
 about homework), parental involvement has been positively linked to
 indicators of student achievement, including teacher ratings of
 student competence, student grades, and achievement test scores.
 (p. 105)


Motivation for involvement has been of much interest, particularly perceptions about social networks (Sheldon, 2002), life contexts (Walker, Wilkins, Dallaire, Sandler, & Hoover-Dempsey, 2005), and efficacy (Hoover-Dempsey & Sadler, 1995, 1997; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005). In fact, parental perceptions of their roles and their beliefs that their involvement matters have been shown to predict actual parental engagement (Hoover-Dempsey, Bassler, & Brissie, 1992; Reed, Jones, Walker, & Hoover-Dempsey, 2000; Sheldon, 2002). Whether socioeconomic status (SES) is a significant predictor of involvement is unclear (Jeeter-Twilley, Legum, & Norton, 2007); however, Brown and Beckett (2007) found that levels of involvement do depend on SES in the support model of involvement in which the dominant role of parents is "in support" of teachers. Moles (1993) did not find involvement dependent on minority status; however, Lareau's work (1987, 1989) eloquently portrayed how the roles that parents play differ according to working-class or middle-class status. Students from middle-class families with more formal education received advantages over working-class families. Delgado-Gaitan (1991) supported the idea that ethnically or linguistically diverse parents participated less, compared to majority group parents, because their needs were largely ignored; lack of specific cultural knowledge impeded some parents' involvement.

The importance of space and cultural capital was stressed in parents' experiences with school conventions (Barton, Drake, Perez, St. Louis, & George, 2004; Lareau & Horvat, 1999). For example, not following expected protocols, such as diplomacy with front office staff, can turn inexperienced parents away. Other factors that can negatively influence involvement include parents not understanding their roles, not knowing how to help, or letting their own negative school experiences interfere (Walker et al., 2005). Deterrents also include less than family-friendly environments or minimal and/or meaningless methods to involve parents (Epstein, Sanders, Simon, Salinas, & Van Voorhis, 2002). Often, in fact, efforts to involve parents are more frequently superficial than examples of true power sharing. And other efforts, in some ways almost seem farcical, such as Title I and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) regulations that require that their allotted monies only to be used when parents are in attendance.

Yet Title I parental involvement requirements are significant in their intent. Funds for these low-income schools can provide for parent education and adult education classes that are much needed for many parents. And programs such as Head Start mandate parental involvement. The fact remains, however, that obtaining and maintaining meaningful parental involvement in schools is not always easy. And, even though some schools and districts have actually increased parent or community involvement, most efforts are not linked to school reform efforts to increase student achievement and close gaps in student performance (Davies, 2002). This is a case study of a Title | elementary school that met with some success using a grant to study and increase parental involvement.

BACKGROUND

The picture painted by achievement test scores and surveys of satisfaction with home-school relations indicated the need for much improvement at this pre-K through sixth grade, predominantly African American, high-poverty elementary public school, herein fictitiously called Riceton, in Charleston, South Carolina. On the South Carolina State Report Card in 2005, 70.4% of the Riceton parents surveyed and 38.1% of the teachers were dissatisfied with home-school relations. As shown in Table 1, the state's achievement test scores in 2006 (Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test, or PACT) indicated that more than 40% of students in Grades 4 through 6 were below basic standards in at least three, if not all, of the four content areas tested (language arts, social studies, science, and math). The PTA president at Riceton, at the time of this study, welcomed assistance, saying it was "difficult to get many parents involved in meaningful ways; many have needs of their own" (personal communication, October 11, 2006). A survey of teachers' needs, conducted in 2006 by the Riceton-School of Education Partnership at the College of Charleston, listed parental involvement as lacking and detrimental to students' performance. The Partnership, formalized in 2003, had as one of its goals an increase in family and community involvement. Progress toward meeting any goals had been severely constrained, however, by a lack of resources. As cochairperson of this Partnership, I was motivated to seek funding when monies became available from the Center for Partnerships to Improve Education, housed in the School of Education.

The proposal was accepted for the study to be conducted at Riceton. Its purposes were (1) to ascertain home and school factors that impact involvement of parents/guardians in their children's education, (2) to examine how parents' attitudes over time impacted their participation in their children's education, and (3) to use that data to attempt to improve parent involvement practices through two interventions, summer camp and interactive homework. Fifty thousand dollars was allocated for this 15-month-long project.

METHOD

Home factors impacting parental involvement were measured through parent/guardian semistructured interviews, with questions based on the work of Walker et al. (2005) that addressed motivational factors (i.e., feelings about school, self-efficacy issues for helping children succeed, roles they perceive they play in student motivation, and life contexts). In each one-on-one interview, the interviewer recorded the parent's answers. Answers from all interviews were then cross-tabulated. Data gathered from the first interviews were used as baseline data to determine parental perceptions about involvement in their children's education. Data gathered from the second interviews a year later examined how parents' attitudes changed over the course of the year when the school made a concerted effort to improve family involvement. The principal investigator/author, and some of her graduate students, conducted the interviews.

School factors that impact parent involvement were measured through pre- and postsurveys completed by the Riceton teaching staff (teachers and paraprofessionals), who rated the frequency and effectiveness of school practices related to parental involvement. This survey was based on an instrument from Epstein et al. (2002, pp. 330-335). Data gathered from the first survey in May 2007 were used as baseline data to determine school practices that impact parental involvement. Data gathered from the second survey administered a year later (May 2008) were used to determine how school practices changed over the course of the year in which the school made a concerted effort to improve practices to involve parents. Data analysis on all scales--in the parent interviews and teaching staff surveys--involved standard cross-tabulations, or a frequency analysis among subgroups.

The two interventions were classes offered for parents who completed a minimum of 3 hours of classes a week for 6 weeks (for a minimum of 18 hours total) during the summer of 2007, and an interactive homework program for parents and children, twice a month, during the fall of 2007.

Participants

For the initial interviews, all parents in the school were sent a letter by way of their children in May 2007, inviting them to participate in an interview about their involvement in their children's education. Ninety-two responded affirmatively, but 74 were actually interviewed due to inability to contact parents because of wrong phone numbers or no-shows. The number interviewed comprised one third (33%) of the school-wide parent population. Parents had, on average, achieved 12.8 grade levels of education and were working a 32-hour work week. In terms of the school's demographics, 93.62% of the school's 333 children in the 2006-2007 school year, all but two of whom are African American, received free/reduced-price lunch; one third lived in nearby public housing; and approximately one third of the children spent 11 hours a day at school, starting with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and continuing through the after-school program. Two incentives were offered to parents: (1) a $20 gift card at Target or Wal-Mart and (2) summer camp for their children if they participated in the required 3 hours of classes a week during the 6 weeks of camp.

At a faculty meeting in May 2007, the teaching staff was invited (orally by the principal investigator and with a letter) to complete surveys. Twenty-six of the 35 did so in the spring of 2007; this constituted three fourths (75%) of the teaching staff. The staff included classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, administrative staff, special area and resource teachers. Ninety-seven percent of the certified teachers held master's degrees.

Only 11% of the parents (26) participated and 65 % (26) of the teaching staff (which itself had increased) participated in the "post" interviews and surveys, which occurred in May 2008. It was conjectured that the number of parents decreased for two reasons: (1) there was no gift card to act as an incentive as there had been at the outset and (2) summer camp for children of those participating was not available.

Interventions To Increase Involvement in Parent Classes With Summer Camp for Their Children

Parents who participated in the interviews were given the opportunity to have their elementary school-age children attend a 6-week, all-day camp at the school, if they attended 3 hours of classes a week with the options of taking parenting classes, computer classes, exercise classes (yoga or belly dancing), and cooking classes. Class offerings were based on the family literacy model with an added community education component. Although 60 of the parents interviewed (and their combined 87 children) started the program, only 40 parents completed it (and their 30 combined children). The reduced number was primarily due to the fact that the family was dropped from the program if the parent didn't attend the classes. Some children also dropped out due to illness or visiting relatives.

Staff for the day camp program for the children was made up of college-age men and women who either had been staff in the school's after-school program during the school year, or teacher education graduate and undergraduate students from the College of Charleston. The parent component was staffed by the author/principal investigator, who also supervised the day program and taught the parent cooking class (only because the person hired dropped out). It was hoped that the classes for parents would serve to enhance their education as well as groom/entice some parent leaders for the school for the upcoming year. The goal was to ask several to serve on a Parent Advisory Committee and one to serve on the Riceton-School of Education Partnership Steering Committee.

Interactive Homework Between Parents and Children

The second intervention implemented was called Interactive Homework, an idea based on a program from the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University called TIPS (Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork). At Riceton, a university staff member developed the homework, instead of the teachers as in the TIPS model; however, she did use suggestions made by Riceton's classroom teachers. The homework was based on the South Carolina curriculum standards but was supposed to be fun and engaging for parents. It was offered to all teachers on a voluntary basis; 18 of the 20 teachers participated. Three different activities for parents and student to do together were sent home during the fall 2007 semester; students returned their homework folders with parent or sibling signatures.

RESULTS

Parent Interviews

Parents were asked questions related to their beliefs about their roles in their children's education; their perceptions of their self-efficacy; invitations for involvement from the school, teacher, and children, as well as their perceived life contexts; and involvement in home- and school-based activities. Highlights of the results are shared in the following. No result is provided unless there was a 10% or larger change from the time of the preinterview (May 2007) to post (May 2008). See Appendix A for complete results.

Parental role construction. There were two increases of 15% in the number of parents who believe it is their responsibility to volunteer at school (77%-92%) and make sure the school has what it needs (73%-88%), but a 15% decrease in the number of parents who said they talk with other parents from the school (88%-73%).

Self-efficacy. Of the seven items in this category, there were increases in six; however, the only one with a 10% increase was the item related to whether parents perceive that they make a significant difference in their child's academic performance (a 10% increase of 85%-95%). There was a 7% decrease in the number who felt they knew how to "get through to their child" (from 73%-66%).

Perceived invitations for involvement from child or teacher. In this category, there were two increases of more than 10% from the pre- and posttesting on two items: Parents who said that their child asked them to supervise homework (a 19% increase from 42%-61%), and those who asked them to help out at school (a 14% increase from 27%-41%). There were also decreases in the number of parents being asked by their child's teacher to help with homework (a 15% decrease from 81%-66%) and those who attended a special event at school (a decrease of 16% from 46%-30%). Twelve percent fewer (62%-50%) parents in the postinterview said that they were contacted by the teacher (by e-mail, phone call, etc.).

Life contexts. There were no changes of more than 10% from the pre- to postinterviews in terms of perceptions of available time and energy. There was one change in the category of knowledge and skills. Fewer parents perceived that they had the skills to help out at school (a decrease of 10% from 92-82%).

Involvement in home-based and school-based activities. Home-based activities included supervising homework, practicing such skills as spelling with their children, and reading with their children. School-based activities included helping out at school, attending PTA meetings, and volunteering to go on field trips. In the home-based activities, there was one item with a 10% or more change in the number of parents' perceiving that someone in the family: reads with the child/children (an 11% increase from 69%-80%). In the school-based activities, fewer parents perceived that they would volunteer to go on field trips (an 11% decrease from 38%-27%).

Teaching staff surveys. Teachers responded to a series of questions rating the frequency with which certain actions occurred; activities were organized into six topic areas: parenting, communication, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making, and collaborating with the community. As with the parent interview results, those items on which there was a 10% or more increase or decrease in the number of teachers' responses from the May 2007 to the May 2008 surveys are reported below. See Appendix B for complete results. The survey was based on one found in Epstein et al. (2002). Teachers responded to these items related to how often or frequently their school performed relative to that item.

Parenting. The percentage of teachers who said their school frequently or often helped families establish home environments conducive to support children increased overall in all seven items from the pre- to the postsurvey. The largest increases were on the following items:

* Conducts workshops for parents or providing information on child development (a 34% increase from 23%-57%)

* Asks families for information about goals for their children (a 16% increase from 27%-43%)

* Provides families with information or training on developing home conditions or environments that support learning (an increase of 25% from 36%-61%).

Communication. This is generally defined by Epstein et al. (2002) as "designing effective forms of school-to home communications about school programs and children's progress (p. 333). Of the 14 items in this category, there were increases of 16% or better on the following three items:

* Trains teachers, staff, and principal of the value and utility of contributions of parents and ways to build ties between school and home (a 16% increase from 45%-61%)

* Produces a regular school newsletter with up-to-date information (a 28% increase from 55%-83%)

* Develops school's plan and program for family and community involvement (an increase of 20% from 50%-70%).

The one decrease was in the area of reviewing print and nonprint communiqu6s for readability, clarity, and so on (a 20% decrease from 68%--48%).

Volunteering. This category has to do with getting parents' help and support and organizing them. There were four items showing a change of 12% or more:

* Provides a parent/family room (increase of 12% from 27%-39%)

* Reduces barriers to participation through providing transportation, child care, flexible schedules, and so on (12% increase from 23%-35%)

* Trains volunteers to use their time productively (20% increase from 23%-43%)

* Annually surveys interest, talents, and availability of volunteers (a 20% decrease from 50%-30%).

Learning at home. In this category, related to helping parents know better how to help their children at home, there were three items indicating a change of 10% or more:

* Provides information to families on how to monitor and discuss schoolwork (a decrease of 16% from 59%-43%)

* Makes parents aware of the importance of reading at home, and asks parents to listen to their child read aloud (a decrease of 16% from 86%-70%)

* Assists families in helping students set academic goals (an increase of 20% from 32%-52%).

Decision-making. The most improvement was found in the category of including parents in decisions and developing parent leaders. Seven of the 10 items registered a 10% increase or more:

* Active in the PTA (a 19% increase from 77%-96%)

* Includes parents on school's advisory council (a 23% increase from 73%-96%)

* Has parents represented on district level advisory council (a 24% increase from 41%-65%)

* Involves parents in an organized, ongoing, and timely manner (a 29% increase from 45%-74%)

* Develops formal networks to link all families with their parent representatives (a 12% increase from 23%-35%)

* Deals with conflict openly and respectfully (a 10% increase from 68%-78%)

* Asks involved parents to make contact with parents who are less involved (a 12% increase from 36%-48%).

Collaborating with community. In this category, teachers rated identification and integration of resources from the community to strengthen their school's programs and practices. A change of 16% or higher was found for three of seven items:

* Provides a resource directory for parents and students (a 16% increase from 32%-48%)

* Involves families in locating and using community resources (a 34% increase from 27%-61%)

* Offers after-school programs for students with support from community businesses, agencies, and volunteers (a 22% decrease from 100%-78%).

Interactive Homework

By the end of this 3-month project, 285 students from every grade level, in the 18 classrooms whose teachers volunteered to participate, were involved in this project. The project was voluntary for students and their parents. For the 18 teachers who had participating students, the average participation rate was 67%. Student participation was greatest in the pre-K through primary grades, with 77% participation. Parent participation across all grades was 50%, but participation increased steadily from the time the project started until its completion. In fact, as Figure 1 portrays, participation of students and teachers also increased from the beginning to the end of the project (October through December 2007).

Student Outcomes

Although direct correlations cannot be made between parental involvement and achievement scores, the variety of results from the pre- and postinterview data with parents, the pre- and postsurvey information from teachers about home and school factors affecting involvement, and the spring to spring reading and math scores indicate that efforts made by the school staff and summer school staff were successful. Analysis of reading and math progress was done using the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) for Primary Grades test, taken in the spring of 2007 and the spring of 2008. The MAP assessments, developed by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), are state-aligned, computerized adaptive assessments that provide accurate, useful information about student achievement and growth.

For the third-through sixth-graders overall who took the test in math, the Rausch uniT (RIT) score, a number that indicates a student's instructional level, improved from 196 to 204. The median gain was 9. Eighty-three percent made gains, with 47% meeting their target growth. The RIT scores in reading improved by 5 points, from 195 to 200. The median gain was 5 points. Seventy-five percent of the students made gains, with 46% meeting their target growth. See Table 2.

Although these results need to be compared to other years' rate of improvement, they indicate an increase in median gains and a 75% to 83% improvement in scores by all the test takers.

DISCUSSION

The process of determining home and school factors that impeded parental involvement at Riceton, and then using that data to plan and implement initiatives/interventions to address some of the targeted needs, resulted in some surprising outcomes when compared to existing literature as well as in benefits for unintended audiences. However, due to the indirect effects of parental involvement as well as the nature of parenting itself in a Title I school, the changes reported cannot be directly attributed to the parent classes and interactive homework interventions.

That said, the results taken as a whole are useful, particularly for use by the school to improve practices related to involving parents in their children's education at home and school, as well as to ponder other implications in the larger context of parental involvement. The perceptions of parents herein as a part of a lower socioeconomic group (Title I status) are valuable because less is known about this population than about the middle- and higher-income parents more often studied. They also serve to inform assumptions often made about lower-income parents.

Role Perceptions

The vast majority of Riceton parents in the current study agreed that it is their responsibility to assume many roles in their children's education, such as talking with their children about the school day, helping with homework, staying informed, and communicating regularly with their children's teachers. They were less likely to believe a role/activity is their responsibility if it is one that doesn't relate directly to their child, such as making sure the school has what it needs, making the school better, and talking with other parents from the school. Contrary to what may be suspected, the parents, most of whom had only a high school education, generally felt a strong sense of confidence in their abilities, especially in knowing how to help their children learn and in making a significant difference in their school performance. They were less certain about their ability to get through to their children, which also corresponded to their lack of confidence in helping with particular subject matter.

Life Contexts and Home- and School-Based Activities

Riceton parents felt strongly that they know how to communicate effectively with their children about the school day and often have the time and energy to do so. They believed that they have the time, energy, knowledge, and skills to communicate effectively with their children's teachers and effective ways of contacting the teacher. The majority believed they had the time and energy to help with homework, but fewer said they knew enough about the subjects of the homework to be helpful. They reported having the skills to help out at school but were less likely to have the time and energy to do so. They were also less likely to have the time and energy to engage in volunteering and special events.

Because most parents of Riceton children reported working 40 hours a week, it would be interesting to determine how closely their perceptions of involvement match the reality. But from what I gleaned from the 80+ hours I spent with Riceton parents one on one or in small-group classes (I taught the cooking class and some of the parenting class), I was constantly overwhelmed by what these parents did for their children with the little time and resources they had. It was obvious that the contexts of their lives (e.g., the number of hours they worked) dramatically affected what they were able to do in terms of school-based activities. Yet, at home, talking with their children about the school day, and having someone in their family read with their child, were deemed important in the preinterviews and increased in the postinterviews a year later. The fact that 95% of those interviewed in the "post" interviews perceived that they support decisions made by the teacher is evidence that either their attitudes and views of Riceton changed, and/or the teachers worked to improve their parent-teacher practices as well.

Over the course of the study, Riceton teachers appeared to have gained an increased understanding of some factors that affect parents' involvement. Teachers had an opportunity for structured parental involvement with the home-based instructional activities (interactive homework). The survey results indicated an increased awareness of how teacher education faculty and students could help them become better teachers and help their children with specific skills. However, the teachers didn't tend to invite their students' parents to participate or attend special events more often, or even to supervise homework more frequently.

Behaviors that increased, according to their self-reports, were more often helping to establishing home environments more conducive to support children, more regular communication with parents, increased involvement of parents in decision-making, and more involvement in the community. Areas of greatest improvement were the increase in those who provided information to parents on child development; training volunteers; maintaining regular communication, such as a newsletter; and involving parents regularly in decision-making.

The Interactive Homework Project with children and parents had the potential to engage parents in their children's homework, thus allowing them to be more actively involved without coming to school. Many wrote comments on the homework expressing their appreciation for knowing more about what their children were learning. The parents with whom I spoke informally after this project concluded volunteered that they had appreciated that kind of involvement. However, the amount of time and expense to create and copy the activities for the children and parents was an impediment, as was the fact that teachers were not more involved in the development of the homework.

Because the hiring of the parent educator was an unintended outcome (because of what the school principal noted from summer camp relationships between staff and students), results related to him were not specifically studied. However, from observing his efforts throughout the year, it was clear that his effect was extremely positive. More and more parents became involved in many home- and school-based activities to help their children and the school. It is possible that perceptions of school practices and actual practices changed as much as they did due to the time, energy, and welcoming demeanor the parent educator tirelessly expended.

Teacher education students who acted as staff accrued benefits as well. They learned firsthand about the needs of a low-performing and a low-SES population; they were able to practice their own skills in teaching and working with families; and, most important, they became more comfortable in an urban setting and with their own practice. The care and concern they bestowed on the children and their mothers in the summer program, and the hands-on projects and walking field trips they took with the children and mothers, enabled them to establish rich relationships built on a growing trust. Riceton students indirectly benefited from better practices at a school working to become more parent friendly and perhaps more directly from their parents' involvement and encouragement in the educational setting. Information from the pre- and post-MAP testing was encouraging, but needs to be compared to other years to better determine the degree of our success.

Other unintended, but much appreciated, benefits emerged from this effort. The addition of a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) program and computer classes for parents and the creation of a parent advisory group followed the success of the summer educational program for parents. As mentioned, a parent educator was hired, and the principal plans to initiate additional training for teachers about the parents' lives and needs. The principal also is now personally and professionally committed to improving school-family-community partnerships; she is involved in a doctoral program, where she is basing her dissertation work on the topic of parental involvement.

Riceton-School of Education Partnership members and Riceton staff and parents had opportunities throughout the year to express their views of the partnership and its activities. Several indicated that there was increased understanding among teachers and parents regarding their roles and its importance, as well increased comfort and communication between some parents and teachers.

CONCLUSION

Home and school factors that affected parental involvement at Riceton were similar to those found in the work of Walker et al. (2005), Hoover-Dempsey et al. (2005), and Epstein et al. (2002). Parents' beliefs about their roles vis-a-vis their children's education and their perceptions about their time and energy, knowledge, and skills obviously affect their involvement. And children whose teachers reach out to their parents reap the benefits. It is understandable that the concerted effort at Riceton to increase parents' and teachers' awareness about the importance of their involvement made a positive difference.

What is important is that the home factor results were basically the same for these Title I parents as those more often discussed in the literature for parents with more social capital, particularly because higher SES parents can afford more learning materials. School practices and summer camp at Riceton showed that teachers and teacher education programs need to better understand the lives that Title I parents live, as well as how to help parents improve their efforts for their children's education, at home and school. Likewise, school structures need to change to better accommodate parents. Teachers and school administrators can institute more effective parental involvement strategies; however, time, resources, and the knowledge and understanding required to change school culture and to develop different paths for access take effort and diligence. Even smaller steps, though, could potentially have a huge impact, such as administrators making teachers more aware that their encouragement of parents' involvement has been shown to predict engagement of all parents (Simon, 2001; VanVoorhis, 2001).

Because "the achievement gap is really a gap in learning opportunities" (Rothman, 2007, p. 21), it is imperative that cities, schools, and school districts work to provide sufficient opportunities for all parents to know what they need to help their children learn at home and in school, and to give higher priority to making sure they have the resources to do so.

DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2010.487401

APPENDIX A

Parent Questionnaire (1)

The majority of the questionnaire consisted of two item types: (1) agreement items, which asked parents to rate how much they agree or disagree with a statement and (2) frequency items, which asked parents to rate how frequently an activity or event occurred during the current school year. Both types of items used a 6-point scale:
Rating Agreement Items Frequency Items

1 Disagree very much/disagree strongly Never
2 Disagree Once or twice
3 Disagree just a little Four or five times
4 Agree just a little Once a week
5 Agree A few times a week
6 Agree a lot/agree strongly Every day


For agreement items, the percentage of parents selecting "Agree" or "Agree a lot/strongly" is presented below; for frequency items, the percentage selecting "a few times a week" or "every day" is presented.
Parental Role Construction: Role Activity Beliefs

I believe it is my responsibility to ... % Pre % Post

1. Volunteer at the school. 77 92
2. Communicate with my child's teacher regularly. 92 97
3. Help my child with homework. 96 97
4. Make sure the school has what it needs. 73 88
5. Support decisions made by the teacher. 81 95
6. Stay on top of things at school. 96 99
7. Explain tough assignments to my child. 100 96
8. Talk with other parents from the school. 88 73
9. Make the school better. 85 88
10. Talk with my child about the school day. 100 100

Parental Role Construction: Valence Toward School

Parents' own experiences as a student often influence their
perceptions of school and their com fort level engaging with the
school. Parents were asked to select the statement that best describes
their own school experiences as a student.

 % Pre % Post

My school Liked 88 77
My teachers Were nice 73 64
My teachers Cared about me 85 86
My school experience Good 81 82
I felt like my overall I belonged 77 85
Experience Success 92 80

Parents' Self-Efficacy

 % Pre % Post

1. I know how to help my child do well in school. 88 89

2. I know if I'm getting through to my child. (a) 73 66

3. I know how to help my child make good grades. 85 89
(a)

4. I feel successful about my efforts to help my 92 88
child learn.

5. I have more influence on my child's grades 85 88
than other children do. (a)

6. I know how to help my child learn. (a) 88 93

7. I make a significant difference in my child's 85 95
school performance.

(a.) Direction of statement reversed from questionnaire for simplicity
in reporting.

Perceptions of General Invitations for Involvement From the School

 % Pre % Post

1. Teachers are interested and cooperative when 92 97
they discuss my child.

2. I feel welcome at Riceton. 100 97

3. Parent activities are scheduled so that I can 81 77
attend.

4. Riceton lets me know about meetings and special 96 89
school events.

5. Riceton staff contacts me promptly about any 92 96
problems involving my child.

6. The teachers at Riceton keep me informed about 96 96
my child's progress in school.

Parents' Perceptions of Invitations for Involvement From Child/Teacher

Percent Reporting High Frequency

My child ... % Pre % Post

1. Asked me to explain something about homework. 54 58

2. Asked me to supervise homework. 42 61

3. Talked with me about the school day. 81 93

4. Asked me to attend a special event at school. 58 51

5. Asked me to help out at the school. 27 41

6. Asked me to talk with their teacher. 35 30

My child's teacher ... % Pre % Post

1. Asked me or expected me to help my child with 81 66
homework.

2. Asked me or expected me to supervise homework. 69 64

3. Asked me to talk with my child about the school 54 55
day.

4. Asked me to attend a special event at school. 46 30

5. Asked me to help out at the school. 23 24

My child's teacher contacted me (for example, sent 62 50
a note, phoned, e-mailed).

Parents' Perceived Life Context

Time and Energy

I have enough time and energy to ... % Pre % Post

1. Communicate effectively with my child about the 92 91
school day.

2. Help out at my child's school. 50 45

3. Communicate effectively with my child's teacher. 92 96

4. Attend special events at school. 73 66

5. Help my child with homework. 96 96

6. Supervise my child's homework. 88 91

Knowledge and Skills

 % Pre % Post

1. I know about volunteering opportunities at my 81 82
child's school.

2. I know about special events at my child's school. 92 88

3. I know effective ways to contact my child's 96 96
teacher.

4. I know how to communicate effectively with my 96 99
child about the school day.

5. I know how to explain things to my child about 88 91
his or her homework.

6. I know enough about the subjects of my child's 81 88
homework to help him or her.

7. I know how to communicate effectively with my 92 99
child's teacher.

8. I know how to supervise my child's homework. 92 95

9. I have the skills to help out at my child's 92 82
school.

Parents' Involvement in Home-Based Activities

Someone in this family ... % Pre % Post

1. Talks with this child about the school day. 92 95

2. Supervises this child's homework. 88 93

3. Helps this child study for tests. 85 78

4. Practices spelling, math, or other skills with 88 85
this child.

5. Reads with this child. 69 80

Parents' Involvement in School-Based Activities

Someone in this family ... % Pre % Post

1. Helps out at this child's school. 31 34
2. Attends special events at school. 50 45
3. Volunteers to go on class field trips. 38 27
4. Attends PTA meetings. 35 30
5. Goes to the school's open house. 38 28

(1.) Adapted from Hoover-Dempsey, K., Walker, J., Sandler, H.,
Whetsel, D., Green, C., Wilkins. A., & Closson, K. (2005). Why do
parents become involved'? Research findings and implications. The
Elementary School Journal, 106 (2), 105-30.


APPENDIX B

Teaching Staff Survey (2)

Teachers and staff used a 5-point scale to indicate their opinion of how frequently each type of activity occurs. For each item, respondents could choose from the following: 1--never (does not happen at my school); 2--rarely; 3--sometimes; 4--often; 5--frequently. The percentage of teachers and staff selecting often or frequently is presented below for each item.
I. Parenting--Help all families establish home environments to support
children as students.

Percent reporting that their school often or % Pre % Post
frequently ...

l. Conducts workshops or provides information for 23 57
parents on child development.

2. Provides information, training, and assistance to 41 52
all families who want it or who need it, not just to
the few who can attend workshops or meetings at the
school.

3. Produces information for families that is clear, 59 70
usable, and linked to children's success in school.

4. Asks families for information about children's 27 43
goals, strengths, and talents.

5. Sponsors home visiting programs or neighborhood 18 30
meetings to help families understand schools and to
help schools to understand families.

6. Provides families with information or training on 36 61
developing home conditions or environments that
support learning.

7. Respects the different cultures represented in 77 87
our student population.

II. Communications--Design effective forms of school-to-home and home-
to-school communications about school programs and children's
progress.

Percent reporting that their school often or % Pre % Post
frequently ...

1. Reviews the readability, clarity, form, and 68 48
frequency of all memos, notices, and other print and
nonprint communications.

2. Develops communication for parents who do not 27 30
speak English well, do not read well, or need large
type.

3. Provides written communication in the language of 41 39
the parents and translators as needed.

4. Establishes clear, two-way channels for 68 74
communications from home to school and from school
to home.

5. Conducts a formal conference with every parent at 91 83
least once a year.

6. Conducts an annual survey for families to share 59 52
information and concerns about student needs and
reactions to school programs, and their satisfaction
with their involvement in school.

7. Conducts an orientation for new parents. 36 39

8. Sends home folders of student work weekly or 73 83
monthly for parent review and comment.

9. Provides clear information about the curriculum, 73 74
assessments, and achievement levels and report
cards.

10. Contacts families of students having academic or 91 87
behavior problems.

11. Develops school's plan and program of family and 50 70
community involvement with input from educators,
parents, and others.

12. Trains teachers, staff and principals on the 45 61
value and utility of contributions of parents and
ways to build ties between school and home.

13. Builds policies that encourage all teachers to 77 83
communicate frequently with parents about their
curriculum plans, expectations for homework, and how
parents can help.

14. Produces a regular school newsletter with 55 83
up-to-date information about the school, special
events, organizations, meetings, and parenting tips.

III. Volunteering--Recruit and organize parent help and support.

Percent reporting that their school often % Pre % Post
or frequently ...

1. Conducts an annual survey to identify interests, 50 30
talents, and availability of parent volunteers, in
order to match their skills/talents with school and
classroom needs.

2. Provides a parent/family room for volunteers and 27 39
family members to work, meet, and access resources
about parenting, child care, tutoring, and other
things that affect their children.

3. Creates flexible volunteering and school events 68 65
schedules, enabling parents who work to participate.

4. Schedules school events at different times during 50 52
the day and evening so that all families can attend
at some point throughout the year.

5. Reduces barriers to parent participation by 23 35
providing transportation, child care, flexible
schedules, and addresses the needs of English
language learners.

6. Trains volunteers so they use their time 23 43
productively.

7. Recognizes volunteers for their time and efforts. 82 83

8. Encourages families and the community to be 73 74
involved with the school in a variety of ways
(assisting in classroom, giving talks, monitoring
halls, leading activities, etc.).

IV. Learning at Home--Provide information and ideas to families about
how to help students at home with homework and other curriculum-
related activities, decisions, and planning.

Percent reporting that their school often or % Pre % Post
frequently ...

1. Provides information to families on how to 59 43
monitor and discuss schoolwork at home.

2. Provides information to families on required 36 39
skills in all subjects.

3. Provides ongoing and specific information to 50 43
parents on how to assist students with skills that
they need to improve.

4. Makes parents aware of the importance of reading 86 70
at home, and asks parents to listen to their child
read, or to read aloud with their child.

5. Assists families in helping students set academic 32 52
goals, select courses, and programs.

6. Schedules regular, interactive homework that 41 43
requires students to demonstrate and discuss what
they are learning with a family member.

V. Decision-Making--Include parents in school decisions, developing
parent leaders and representatives.

Percent reporting that their school often or % Pre % Post
frequently ...

1. Has active PTA, PTO, or other parent 77 96
organization.

2. Includes parent representatives on the school's 73 96
advisory council, improvement team, or other
committees.

3. Has parents represented on district-level 41 65
advisory council and committees.

4. Involves parents in an organized, ongoing, and 45 74
timely way in the planning, review, and improvement
of programs.

5. Involves parents in revising the school/district 32 35
curricula.

6. Includes parent leaders from all racial, ethnic, 55 48
socioeconomic, and other groups in the school.

7. Develops formal networks to link all families 23 35
with their parent representatives.

8. Includes students (along with parents) in 27 30
decision-making groups.

9. Deals with conflict openly and respectfully. 68 78

10. Asks involved parents to make contact with 36 48
parents who are less involved to solicit their
ideas, and report back to them.

VI. Collaborating With Community--Identify and integrate resources and
services from the community to strengthen school programs, family
practices, and student learning and development.

Percent reporting that their school often or % Pre % Post
frequently ...

1. Provides a resource directory for parents and 32 48
students with information on community services,
programs, and agencies.

2. Involves families in locating and utilizing 27 61
community resources.

3. Works with local businesses, industries, 68 74
libraries, parks, museums, and other organizations
on programs to enhance student skills and learning.

4. Provides "one-stop shopping" for family services 23 30
through partnership of school, counseling, health,
recreation, job training, and other agencies.

5. Opens building for use by the community after 41 48
school hours.

6. Offers after-school programs for students with 100 78
support from community businesses, agencies, and
volunteers.

7. Solves turf problems of responsibilities, funds, 50 43
staff, and locations, thereby encouraging
collaborative activities.

(2.) Questions based on work of Epstein, J., Sanders, M., Simon, B.,
Salinas, N., & Van Voorhis, F. (2002). (2'td Ed.) School, Family, and
Community Partnerships. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Corwin Press, Inc., pp.
130-135.


REFERENCES

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Submitted February 16, 2009; accepted September 3, 2009. Address correspondence to Virginia B. Bartel, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424. E-mail: BartelV@ cofc.edu

Virginia B. Bartel

College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina
TABLE 1
Percent of Riceton Students Below Basic (Not Meeting Standard) on
Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test in 2006

Content Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6

Language arts 5.3 42.9 27.8 51.4
Math 0 62.9 51.2 44.4
Science 13.2 77.1 68.2 75.6
Social studies 2.6 65.9 50 70.7

TABLE 2
Student Outcomes: MAP Score Analysis Growth From Spring 2007 to
Spring 2008

 Overall
 Spring 2007 Spring 2008 Median
Current Mean RIT Mean RIT Gain Spring
Grade Level Score Score to Spring

 Reading

3 186 194 9
4 193 197 5
5 197 202 4
6 206 210 5

Grade 3-6 195 200 5

 Mathematics

3 184 196 13
4 197 202 6
5 200 207 8
6 205 213 10

Grades 3-6 196 204 9

 % of
 Students
 % of Meeting
 Lowest Highest Students Their
Current Gain Spring Gain Spring Making Any Growth
Grade Level to Spring to Spring Gains Target

 Reading

3 -13 34 83 46
4 -17 20 77 37
5 -7 21 68 37
6 -12 15 71 48

Grade 3-6 -17 34 75 46

 Mathematics

3 5 27 94 46
4 -17 19 77 37
5 -9 19 81 37
6 -7 21 79 48

Grades 3-6 -17 27 83 47

Note. MAP = Measures of Academic Progress; RIT = Rausch unIT. Analysis
uses a matched data file (Spring 2008 & Spring 2007 scores of the
school's 2007-08 students, grades 3-6). Students not tested both years
are excluded.

FIGURE 1 Participation in Interactive Homework activities.

 Classrooms
 (n=18)

Activity 1 67%
Activity 2 94%
Activity 3 100%

 Students
 (n=285)

Activity 1 55%
Activity 2 75%
Activity 3 77%

 Parents
 (n = 285)

Activity 1 47%
Activity 2 57%
Activity 3 58%

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Author:Bartel, Virginia B.
Publication:Journal of Research in Childhood Education
Date:Jul 1, 2010
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