Parental Involvement and Student’s Success:The effects and lack thereof in lower-socioeconomic schools
The action research paper presented will explore the effects of parental involvement in lower-socioeconomic schools on student achievement and reinforcement. Research currently defines socioeconomic status as a
combination of variables, including occupation, education, income, wealth, and place of residence. Sociologists often use socioeconomic status as a means of predicting behavior. A family’s socioeconomic status is based on family income, parental education level, parental occupation, and social status in the community. Families with high socioeconomic status often have more success in preparing their young children for school because they typically have access to a wide range of resources to promote and support young children’s development. They are able to provide their young children with high-quality child care, books, and toys to encourage children in various learning activities at home. Also, they have easy access to information regarding their children’s health, as well as social, emotional, and cognitive development. In addition, families with high socioeconomic status often seek out information to help them better prepare their young children for school. McNeal (1999) states, that parental involvement is generally a salient factor in explaining behavior, but not cognitive outcomes. Findings indicate that specific dimensions of involvement have greater effects for more affluent and white students, providing empirical evidence to support Lareau’s (1989) contention that the greater levels of cultural capital possessed by members of the upper class magnify the parental involvement’s effect for advantaged students. In this action research the teacher will focus on non- parental involvement for a specified period of time to see the adverse effect on student achievement. The teacher will keep a log of parental communication, signed agenda, and returned-homework.
Chapter 1: Purpose
The school in research is a public school in Southwest Atlanta, Georgia. The school is part of the Fulton County School System. The school is centered in an urban setting occupied by lower to middle class families. The school is surrounded by homes that were built over 15 to 20 years ago. The community is growing daily as individuals affected by natural disasters, hurricane Katrina, move and settle in the city. Many of the students are displaced students who are enrolled for a limited time before withdrawing from the school. As the community continues to grow developers continue to purchase land and develop the massive amount of undeveloped land.
The demographics of the school are consistent with your typical lower socioeconomic setting. The current enrollment count is 719 students. The ethnicity breakdown of students is as follows: 95% African American, 1% Hispanic, and 1% Asian, and 3% race identified as other. The school has increased its enrollment in two years by more than 150 students. A school that was built in the early 1900s and served a small number of students now serves more than 700 students. The school is a historical site; it represents one of the oldest schools in the area. However, the school was not built to accommodate students of the twentieth century. Many of the classrooms are not equipped with windows, the halls are extremely small, and the gym does not provide adequate space for the students. Consequently, there are requests for additional remodeling to bring the school to a current state. Minor remodeling projects have been done, but there are key areas that need immediate attention. The classrooms have chalk-boards and there are limited outlets to accommodate the technology powering source needed to integrate technology into the classrooms. Each classroom has three computers and there is one lab with thirty computers for all grade levels to share.
The student-teacher ration was 12:1 in 2005 as stated on the school based website. Currently, the teacher-student ration is 20:1. The student-teacher ratio has grown to eight students per class. The increase in student population is increasing at a rapid rate. The turn-over rate for teachers has increased from three per year to 10 to12 per year. This year the school replaced 13 new teachers in grade K-5. The school has a Pre-kindergarten; (Pre-K) program that serves 60 students. The ratio for Pre-K is 10:1. Each Pre-K teacher has an assistant. The Pre-K students are enrolled on a first come, first serve basis, and students are accepted regardless of district.
Administratively, the school has retained the same principal for six years. The principal is very distant from the employees and the assistant principal is the exact opposite. The Assistant Principal is extremely friendly and embraces the staff. This mixture of leadership styles tends to divide the staff. The turn-over rate is extremely high and the micromanagement style tends to form cliques in the workplace.
The school currently is meeting adequate yearly progress on the CRCT- Criterion Referenced Competency Test with additional hours added to the school day, Saturday school, and efforts from the school. The school promotes parental involvement; however, the parents rarely support the efforts of the school. The school meets monthly for the Parent-Teacher-Association meeting; the average parent attendance is thirty attendees out of a student enrollment count of 740. Administrators require that teachers and staff attend PTA meetings. This increases the enrollment count, but the majority of attendees are employees. The school provides extended day tutoring three days a week to assist students with preparing for the CRCT assessment administered in mid-April. The PTA meetings include student performances, valuable information for preparing students for the CRCT, school finances, and upcoming events.
The Writer’s Role
The researcher for this study is a third to fifth Curriculum Support Teacher (CST). As the curriculum support teacher it is the role of the support teacher to support classroom teachers in their quest to educate all students. The CST provides assistance with curriculum issues, materials needed to complete a specified lesson, and support with low to average students. The CST can assist with pulling small groups within the classroom to assist with teaching a standard. The CST also analyzes data after testing to see weak areas of achievement, after analyzing the data; the CST will host a mini-workshop on re-teaching standards that are weak across the spectrum of all grade levels (3-5). The researcher also participates in the extended day tutoring program by tutoring a group of 12 students in math. These students have been identified as working two grade levels below and are in need of assistance in preparing for the CRCT. The researcher works directly with students by serving as Chairperson for the School’s Safety Patrol Team, with assistance from members of the Safety Patrol Committee, the safety patrols are very successful. The researcher also is a member of the Math Committee, and participates in various math forums, workshops, and conventions to assist with bridging the gap between what is and what should be.
The target population for this study is third grade students. There are a total of 83 third grade students. The researcher will utilize two of the four classes and work directly with two classroom teachers to collect data on the effects of lack of parental involvement.
Currently, two out of every five parents sign and return daily agendas, communicate with the teacher, attend conferences, and attend parent meetings. The discrepancy between the two of every five students who participate is three. Research states that schools should have typically 80-90% parental involvement in order to see higher success rates. Currently, if 2 out of every 5 students have parent participation in a class of 20, the participation rate is 40%, at least 40% more participation is needed to see adequate success from students. There is a need to double the level of participation from parents to at least four students out of every five. There is a need to increase the level of participation from parents by four students out of every five. Therefore, the school needs to see more participation from four out of five, instead of the current state, two out of five.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of this action research is to increase the level of parental involvement and participation to achieve higher success rates from students.
Possible Casual Factors
Crnic and Lamberty discussed the impact of socioeconomic status on children’s readiness for school:
“The segregating nature of social class, ethnicity, and race may well reduce the variety of enriching experiences thought to be prerequisite for creating readiness to learn among children. Social class, ethnicity, and race entail a set of ‘contextual givens’ that dictate neighborhood, housing, and access to resources that affect enrichment or deprivation as well as the acquisition of specific value systems”, (Crnic and Lamberty 1994).
There are many casual factors that contribute to lack of parental involvement as stated above. Across all socioeconomic groups, parents face major challenges when it comes to providing optimal care and education for their children. Families in poverty struggle to meet basic needs, when basic needs are lacking, parents must place priority on housing, food, clothing, and health. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs basic need must be met before any other need can be built upon. Educational games, books, may appear as luxuries, parents may not have the knowledge to find innovative ways to teach skills at home. Parents quite often lack the time and energy to participate in their child’s school events. Nonetheless many children in lower income families are raised by grandparents who are raising children for the second time in their life and struggle to participate like they did when they were younger. Many times this presents a challenge, especially if the guardian lacks education. In multiple sibling homes, the siblings are responsible for helping to raise the child and quite often the sibling finds interest outside of helping a younger sibling. Even in families with above-average income, parents often lack time and energy, and therefore invest in high-quality childcare where students learn skills outside of the home. A survey completed by kindergarten teachers throughout the country reported that children are increasingly arriving at school inadequately prepared (Campbell and Ramey 1994).
Families with low socioeconomic status often lack the financial, social, and educational supports that characterize families with high socioeconomic status. Poor families also may have inadequate or limited access to community resources that promote and support children’s development and school readiness. Parents may have inadequate skills for such activities as reading to and with their children, and they may lack information about childhood immunizations and nutrition. Research states that low maternal education and minority-language status are most consistently associated with fewer signs of emerging literacy and a greater number of difficulties in preschoolers (Zill, Collins, West, and Hausken, 1995). Having inadequate resources and limited access to available resources can negatively affect families’ decisions regarding their young children’s development and learning. As a result, children from families with low socioeconomic status are at greater risk of entering kindergarten unprepared than their peers from families with median or high socioeconomic status.
Goal and Outcome Objectives
The ultimate goal is to increase parental involvement utilizing simple means of communication such as agenda, daily communication, and parent-teacher meetings. The result should increase student achievement which is the ultimate goal of educators and educational systems throughout the world.
Over a 3-month period, ten students will receive parent communication; parents will sign and respond with comments 90% of time, as measured by the communication log completed by the teacher.
During the 3-month period, a conference will be held once every four weeks and the parent will attend 100% of time, as measured by the parent-conference form.
Over a 3-month period, 8 out of 10 parents will attend 80% of the time, as measured by the PTA Sign in Sheet.
Research has repeatedly proven that students who have more parental involvement or a support system in place are more successful than students whom do not. Research found in various forms support the theory that education in the United States is dependant upon parental involvement. Society has a great effect on many of the school-aged children. As a result, parents must monitor very closely the connection and dedication to achieving success in school.
The idea that parental involvement has an affirmative influence on student’s academic achievement is so instinctively appealing that society in general have considered parental involvement an important element to solve many problems in education. Fan and Chen (2001), states the vast portion of the literature in this area is qualitative and non- empirical. A meta-analysis was conducted to synthesize the quantitative literature about the relationship between parental involvement and student’s academic ability. It was revealed that parental aspiration for their off-spring’s education has the strongest relationship, whereas parental home supervision has the weakest relationship, with student’s academic achievement. Fan and Chen (2001) continue to state that the affiliation is stronger when academic achievement is represented by a global indicator (GPA) than by a subject-specific indicator (Math). Fan and Chen based on current writings do not argue that parental involvement does not play an important factor on children’s academic achievement, instead their findings reveal a small to moderate, and practically meaningful, relationship between parental involvement and student’s achievement.
Hashima and Amato (2004) documented that economic hardships influence how parents interact with their children. Many studies have revealed that as economic hardships deteriorate, parents exhibit less nurturance and more inconsistent discipline. The researcher finds a connection between the study that Hashima and Amato completed and the current state of several lower socio-economic schools. Extremely high levels of discipline and administrator referrals are written, but low levels of participation in Parent-Teacher-Associations or school related activities.
Annette Lareau (2001) in Social Class Differences in Family-School Relationships explores the many significant ways economic inequality and social class has impacts on education. Lareau (2001) reviews theories of poverty effects on education, analyzes the research base for those theories, and offers suggestions for change that would reverse those effects. Lareau suggests elimination of child poverty as a preliminary point. In addition, he discusses increased funding and different programming for schools with populations of students’ disadvantaged backgrounds. Lareau poses numerous contradictions and paradoxes (e.g., between rhetoric and reality, private and public, democracy and capitalism) in society and education that marks the production and reproduction of inequality. Research documented in Social Class, Poverty, and Education, states that poverty does affect ability and achievement, but large effects on behavior, mental, and physical health have not been found.
Research continues to support the need for parental involvement in American schools. Parental involvement in schools in a national priority for both educators and researchers to promote the successful schooling of inner-city youth; Research has produced some promising findings, but parental involvement efforts with inner-city youth are currently limited by problems of research methodology and programs. Certain research studies do, however, demonstrate that children living in poverty have responded positively to parental involvement programs, empowerment, outreach, and indigenous resources (Abdul-Adil and Farmer, 2006). Additional research by Scott and Nufeld (2002), discusses why parent involvement is important for student achievement. Scott and Nufeld provide several recommendations for the implementation of an effective parent involvement program in schools, including early and ongoing assessment for effectiveness.
Trevett and McMillian (1998), discuss the three sections of parental involvement in urban schools. First, the types of parental involvement, secondly, practical involvement activities found in successful urban school programs, and third characteristics of successful urban school parental involvement programs. The research reports and surveys reviewed clearly indicate that the majority of parents do want to be involved in their children’s education, but many do not know they can help. Most teachers desire to have involved parents; it makes the process of educating a reachable task. Several examples from the research indicate that problems in promoting parent involvement are not insurmountable.
Jeynes (2007) completed a meta-analysis that consisted of 52 studies to determine the influence of parental involvement on the educational outcomes of urban secondary school children. Statistical analyses are done to determine the overall impact of parental involvement as well as specific components of parental involvement. The possible differing effects of parental involvement by race and socioeconomic status are also examined. The results indicate that the influence of parental involvement overall is significant for secondary school children. Parental involvement as a whole affects all the academic variables under study. The positive effects of parental involvement hold for both white and minority children.
Research supports the theory that parental involvements play a significant part in academic success. Hashima and Amato (2004) documented that economic hardships influence how parents interact with their children. Many studies have revealed that as economic hardships deteriorate, parents exhibit less nurturance and more inconsistent discipline. In the current action research, the researcher would provide a questionnaire to evaluate the economic hardship. In poverty stricken schools, typically the rate of single parents are extremely high; on average the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch are above 90%. The total household income usually falls well within the poverty or below-income level. An economic hardship questionnaire would help to disaggregate data to determine the cause of low-parental involvement or lack of. In addition, Statistical analyses are done to determine the overall impact of parental involvement as well as specific components of parental involvement. Certain research studies demonstrate that children living in poverty have responded positively to parental involvement programs, empowerment, outreach, and indigenous resources (Abdul-Adil and Farmer, 2006). The researcher would have an opportunity to evaluate outreach programs to assist the parents in the community; consequently, parental involvement would increase.
Schools today are expected to be more tech-savvy, computer literate, advanced in curriculum, and achieving standards that are well above expectations. However, in many schools this is simply just not the case. In many of our inner city schools, there is a struggle to achieve the same as schools with rarely similar resources. The question that prevails in the minds of many, including educators, is simply why? How is possible to have a school with equivalent resources, educators with similar rankings, and equal student-teacher ratio achieving at such different levels? Research provides many possibilities to this dilemma; environmental causes, background education, etc. The problem that seems apparent is the issue of parental involvement or lack thereof.
Preceding the initiation of this research, permissions will be acquired from all subjects. Approval will be requested from the district office, Research and Evaluation’s Department. Next, consent from the building administrator, the Principal, will be required. Finally, the stakeholders, parents and students’ approval will be acquired. The consent of the parents and students is extremely valuable, due to the fact that they are the subjects in the research study. This consent will be in written form and will include an explanation of the actions that are required to successfully complete the research with minimum error.
The action research in development will require resources that will be provided by the school where the study is completed. These resources are minuscule and are part of daily materials required or instructional educators. The required resources needed are as follows: First, two classrooms consisting of an equal amount of students, which will also be used to enter in daily data and file necessary documents for the study. Second, a personal computer to enter date, create flyers, surveys, etc; the lap-top provided individually to instructional educators will be used for the study. Third, pre-printed school envelopes will be used to send home notifications and flyers. Fourth, a personal telephone with an individualized extension for parental involvement will be required to maintain open lines of communication with parents. Lastly, office supplies in generous amounts will be requested. The office supplies include, but are not limited to, a stapler, staples, paper-clips, copy paper, ink, thumb tacks, post-it’s, etc.
The study will be set in motion through obtaining consent from all subjects. After verification of consent two classes will be selected to participate in the study. The classes will be chosen by lowest level of parental participation. This information will be collected through a random Parent Teacher Association meeting sign in sheet. In the classes chosen the instructor will select five students who have the least amount of parental participation. The instructor will be very specific when recommending the student for this study. Recommendations must include students who are unlikely to return parent documentation, parents are unlikely respond to request for conferences, or it is difficult to obtain parent communication via telephone or mail. The grade level chosen will receive reading material on Parental Involvement. All readings selected by the researcher will be research based. A pre-survey will be administered on level of knowledge on the effect that parental involvement has on school age children. The study will last three months and the data collected will include agenda booklets, signed forms, and sign-in sheets for conferences and meetings. Each week the subjects will receive information that is expected to be returned. Each subject (student) will have an individualized folder where all documentation will be kept. The parents will receive a copy of the final outcome of the study.
Week One-Student will begin the first day of their study with an agenda booklet. The agenda booklet will contain homework, parents are expected to sign and return this agenda booklet daily with comments. If the agenda booklet is signed, returned, and include comments, the subjects will receive a three points for Monday. Each action is worth one point. If, for any reason the agenda is not signed, returned, and includes comments the participants will receive zero points. The pattern will continue for five days, Monday through Friday. The subjects can earn fifteen points each week, which will represent one-hundred percent participation.
Once a month each parent will participate in Parent Conference Night. Parent Conference Night will be held on Thursday evening for two hours. Each study will receive a twenty minute conference. The conference will include details of grades, overall performance, and future activities. Each study that participates in the conference with the researcher and instructor will receive twenty points. Twenty points will indicate one-hundred percent participation.
Finally, the most informative meeting parents can attend is the Parent-Teacher-Association meeting held once monthly. Parents can receive information on student performance, school based budget, district based budget, standardized testing, principal’s expectations, etc. Each subject will be expected to attend the monthly meetings. At the conclusion of each meeting, the parent log will be checked. Each subject that attends will receive twenty points. Twenty points will indicate one-hundred percent participation for this action.
All information relating to school related activities will be sent home with the student and an additional copy will be mailed. The subjects will also receive a courtesy phone call to remind parents of events. Parents will have an opportunity to volunteer for additional events during Parent-Teacher-Association meetings, and conferences.
At the end of the third month, all points will be added together. Each subject has an opportunity to earn three-hundred points. Daily agendas are worth fifteen points a week, sixty points a month. Monthly meetings are worth twenty points each, a total of forty a month. The ultimate goal is for parents to earn over two-hundred fifty points. This point mark is over eighty percent which is the overall goal of this study. Research indicates that when parents are more involved in their child’s education, there is a genuine interest to satisfy the parents, as a result motivation increases.
At the conclusion of the research, the researcher will analyze all data. The researcher will hold a conference with the instructor to discuss the student’s performance. Students and parents will have exhibited a level of participation that is well beyond the average. Parents will complete a post survey; the researcher will compare the results of the pre-survey and the post survey.
Matrix of Activities
Week Objective Activity Materials Person(s)
1 1 Returned Agenda, Signed Agenda, Comments Attached Agenda Booklet, Log Sheet Instructor, Researcher
2 1 Returned Agenda, Signed Agenda, Comments Attached Agenda Booklet, Log Sheet Instructor, Researcher
3 1 Returned Agenda, Signed Agenda, Comments Attached Agenda Booklet, Log Sheet Instructor, Researcher
4 1,2,3 Returned Agenda, Signed Agenda, Comments Attached,
Parent-Teacher-Association, Parent Conference Agenda Booklet, Log Sheet Instructor, Researcher
Matrix repeats weekly for three months.
Chapter IV: Evaluation Plan
The overall goal of the action research is to increase parental involvement in effort to increase student achievement. If, over a three month period, 5 students sign and respond with comments 90% of time, as measured by the communication log completed by the teacher, then the objective will be met. Parents will increase level of communication and involvement in the area of academics.
If, during a three month period, the parent attends 100% of time, as measured by the parent-conference form, then the objective will be met. Parents will become more aware of their child’s academic ability. The parent will then be more responsive in providing assistance, if needed. The parent will be able to seek adequate resources to assist or provide enrichment for the child.
If, during a three month period, 4 out of 5 parents participate through attendance 80% of the time, as measured by the PTA Sign in Sheet, then the objective will be met. Parents will become aware of the resources the school has to offer the student as well as the family. The link between home and school will connect. The measurement tools in this evaluation plan are experimental and reliability and validity have not yet been established.
Chapter V: Conclusion
Conclusively, the importance of parental involvement can not be denied. It is a key factor in the success of a child. The metaphor, it takes a village to raise a child, is one that is well known and holds true in the world of education. Research states the relationship between parental involvement and urban schools is necessary for the majority to achieve success (Jeynes, 2007). It is the researcher’s heartfelt opinion, that parental support reinforces the importance of education, without this missing element, the project remains incomplete.
The researcher hopes to increase awareness of the issue that heavily weighs on our urban schools. Attention is often directed toward lower socioeconomic schools for their lack of success. Research indicates that the number of students receiving additional services and individualized education plans are immensely large at urban schools (Jeynes, 2007). Students are students; the environment should not play a major part on their academic ability, should it? As this question repeats in various forms and word usage, the fact remains, the question remains unanswered. The researcher believes this may be one solution to the problem; parental support plays a major role in the life of any child.
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