A qualitative study on the parent participation strategies found in one exemplary middle school in Texas
Brasher, Jeffrey L.
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Because parent involvement in the education of children has proven to facilitate the academic success of students, it is mandated in both the Texas Education Code (TEC) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Texas middle schools need research-based parent involvement strategies that will help in the development of their own parent involvement policies. Epstein has proven that parent involvement begins to taper off quickly at the middle grades and continues to decline into a student’s senior year. If Texas middle school administrators have access to proven parent participation strategies, more effective policies could be implemented in their respective schools. Having research-based parent participation practices available will prevent administrators from reinventing the wheel and potentially deter schools from only going through the motions to meet state and federal mandates. Texas middle schools committed to academic excellence can utilize resources that will assist in the identification of parent participation strategies that have been proven successful. Research-based parent involvement strategies will allow Texas middle schools to increase parent participation in any of the six parent involvement strategies suggested by Epstein and potentially bring about the academic success of every child. This study addressed the following research questions: What are the elements of good practice concerning school-based approaches toward parent participation in an exemplary Texas middle school (rated exemplary in the years of 2003-2004 and 2004-2005) that are found in the schools’ formal campus improvement plans? What are the elements of good practice concerning school-based approaches toward parent participation in an exemplary Texas middle school (rated exemplary between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005) that are found in these schools’ parent involvement policies? What are the elements of good practice concerning school-based approaches toward parent participation in an exemplary Texas middle school (rated exemplary in the years of 2003-2004 and 2004-2005) that are found through a case study involving the interviews of parents, teachers, principal, and superintendent. The research method involved research participants and archival documentation. The researcher interviewed the building principal who was responsible for providing the leadership that allowed the Texas middle school to reach an exemplary status between the years of 2003 and 2005. The archival documentation included the school’s campus improvement plan and parent involvement policy that supported the goals related to parent involvement. The researcher segregated each of the elements of good practice found in the parent involvement policy and campus improvement plan into one of six categorical files. Categorical files provide a way to keep track of useful information and thoughts, and the title file will contain the researcher's effort to capture what the narrative may be about. After the analysis of the archives was completed, the researcher set up interviews with the principal, three teachers, three parents, and the superintendent of schools for the exemplary Texas middle school. After the interviews were completed, the researcher typed up the dialogue from the interviews in its entirety so the information could be coded. Coding is a process used to sort and define pieces of collected data that are applicable to the research purpose. Once the scraps of the data were amassed into "data clumps," the researcher was able to create an organizational framework that could be broken down into smaller pieces or sub codes. The sub-coded data allowed the researcher to organize the data from the interviews into meaningful strings of information that were used to contribute and bring together the archival data that was collected by the researcher. The analysis of the interviews and archival data found there was a correlation between the parent involvement policy and student achievement. The researcher found that the exemplary middle school is truly committed to student achievement and promoted parent involvement. The goals of the school were reflected in the interviews, but were not grounded in the campus improvement plan and parent involvement policies. The information-rich data was used to create and provide a template for middle schools across the state of Texas to use as they create parent involvement strategies to engender the academic success of their students.