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TNLI: Action Research: Curriculum Implementation: A Closed Mouth Doesn't Get Fed

 

A Closed Mouth Doesn't Get Fed: Talking About Parent Involvement
BY RICHARD A. GADSBY
Teacher’s Network Leadership Institute
June 2005


RATIONALE

There is an old, wise African proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child” that is quoted often by educators. I believe it takes three essential elements to fully educate a child – the school fulfilling its obligations, the family fulfilling their obligations and the child doing his/her part. Given some of the serious problems facing education today, there is plenty of blame to go around. As a teacher, one justification for lagging student achievement that I hear frequently is that the parents are not involved in their children’s education. To avoid unfairly placing blame in any situation, self-introspection is a useful tool. In an examination of ourselves, administrators and teachers must ask whether we are doing enough to involve parents in our schools. The answer is, often, we are not.

The question I chose for my research is: what is the impact of increased parent-teacher contact on parental involvement and student achievement? My goal was to measure the level of involvement of the parents of my students and to experiment with several methods of increasing my communication with them to test whether it would spur greater involvement on their part.

My research is composed of a collection of data regarding parent involvement. It is based on surveys and notes of communication with both parents and students in my classroom. I utilized several research methods for communicating with parents, all aimed at increasing their involvement. These included letters, direct contact in person or by telephone, and electronic communication. I also performed a case study of one student who experienced a substantial change in his family’s involvement during the school year. My analysis of my findings focuses on the relative success of these methods in affecting levels of parental involvement and the reactions of parents and students to these methods. This analysis leads to several policy recommendations for changes in parent communication strategies to be instituted on the classroom, school and district levels.

BACKGROUND

I teach an eighth grade Social Studies curriculum to four classes of approximately twenty-two students each. My school is a Grade 6-8 middle school in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, NY, a largely middle class integrated community. Our school serves children of color almost exclusively, the majority of who are 2nd – 3rd generation immigrants. The demographics of the school are approximately eighty-seven percent African-American, ten percent Latino and three percent Asian, White or other. Practically 100% of our students qualify for free lunch under the federal ‘Title I’ program.

My school currently has approximately 45% of our students performing at or better than grade level (Level 3) on the New York State Reading and Mathematics Assessment Exams, which is fairly high percentage in comparison to other New York City area middle schools. Despite these Reading and Mathematics scores, in recent years we have found that many of our students’ academic performance in their core content subjects (Math, English Language Arts, Social Studies and Science) is below the level that would be expected based on their test scores. Specifically, we have seen high numbers of failing students and high summer school attendance rates. For the past 3 academic years we have had approximately 20% of our graduating Eighth-graders attend summer school. Despite numerous and varied programs and strategies to improve academic performance, we have been unable to achieve any significant or sustained decrease in these numbers. (Note: for the current academic year, the percentage of students attending summer school has decreased to approximately 15%).

At the same time, we have one academic program that is dedicated to an accelerated curriculum of courses, including Regents-level Math, Science and Spanish classes. The students in this program have achieved a much higher level of academic success on their core content classes than the rest of the student body, while having only slightly higher results on the state standardized exams. Parents of these children are required to sign a contract upon admission to the program requiring them to maintain an academic average of 80% or better for each academic marking period. Or face removal from the program. We feel that this commitment on the part of the parents is a key element to the success of the sub-school.

As a school community, we have determined that in order to improve our students’ performance, increased involvement from our parents is a necessity. Like many schools today, we have struggled to achieve what we would consider an acceptable level of parental participation in school affairs. We have tried several methods to increase involvement, such as rescheduling our PTA meetings to Saturday mornings, which have had some limited success. Our challenge has been convincing parents that it is necessary to sustain a high level of involvement at the middle school level. Thus, our goal over this time period has been to increase the involvement of parents in the school community, focusing on Parent-Teacher Association (“PTA”) participation and teacher contact to levels generally demonstrated in elementary schools.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Despite the significant number and scope of reforms that instructional theory and methods have undergone in the last 20 years, many researchers find that student performance has not undergone a significant improvement. They theorize that one of the contributing factors to this statistic is the fact that students are most influenced by their experiences in the time that they spend outside of school, mainly with their families. (Henderson, A.T. and Berla, N., A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement. Washington, D.C., National Committee for Citizens in Education). While school support of students is a key component of improving underachieving schools, another essential component is cooperation and assistance from families in overseeing the education of their children. (Sanders, Mavis and Epstein, Joyce (1998), School-Family-Community Partnerships in Middle and High Schools. Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk.)

Recent research has found that as many as 1 in 3 middle school students report that their parents have no idea how they are performing in school. Additionally, 1 in 6 students report that they believe their parents do not care how they perform in school (Steinberg, Laurence, 1996, Beyond the Classroom: Why School Reform has Failed and What Parents Need to Do. New York: Simon & Schuster). These conclusions are supported by the fact that parental involvement is normally at its highest levels during the elementary school years, generally decreasing as children reach the middle school and high school years. (Sanders and Epstein, 1998).

The large body of research on the importance of parental involvement overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that parents are the strongest influence on student academic success. Increased involvement by parents leads to higher grades and scores on standardized examinations. (Bogenschneider, Karen and Johnson, Carol, 2004, Family Involvement in Education: How Important Is It? What Can Legislators Do?). The involvement may take different forms, with each having a varying level of impact on student achievement. Basic activities, such as assistance with homework or otherwise helping the child learn at home, strongly correlate with improved academic performance (Henderson, A.T. and Mapp, K.L., 2002, A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Austin, TX. National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools). Other research has concluded that the parents’ physical presence at the school for events such as PTA meetings can convey a message to students about how seriously parents regard their academics (Steinberg, 1996).

While this involvement has been found to be critical to students living in poverty or disadvantaged situations, research has also concluded that the positive effects of parental involvement stretch across varying socioeconomic backgrounds and parents’ educational backgrounds: “Parental school involvement had positive effects when parents had less than a high school education or more than a college degree. What’s more, the benefits held for Asian, Black, Hispanic and White teens in single-parent, step-family or two-parent biological families” (Bogenschneider and Johnson, 2004). Thus, the goal of maintaining a high level parental involvement is important in all communities, not just urban or impoverished communities, as many of today’s media outlets would suggest.

RESEARCH TOOLS

I utilized three main data collection tools in my study: surveys of students and parents regarding levels of parent involvement, notes from communication with parents throughout the year and anecdotal evidence from students concerning their academics throughout the year, and an experiment with an Internet website where I posted daily homework assignments that parents could monitor.

Surveys
In order to gather information regarding the past and current involvement levels of parents, I conducted separate surveys of my eighth-grade students and their parents during the school year. The student surveys addressed their assessment of their parents’ involvement level in various categories throughout elementary school and middle school. The parent survey was designed to discover the parents’ attitudes about education in general and their perception of their level of involvement.

Parent Communication and Student Anecdotes
Throughout the academic year, I communicated with parents in a variety of ways: an introductory letter at the beginning of the year outlining the class expectations and need for parental involvement, the traditional parent-teacher conferences, phone calls initiated by myself and parents, and written progress reports that were distributed at the mid-point of each marking period. I maintained informal notes on these communications and used them to document the reactions of parents to information about their children and reactions to questions or suggestions about how they could take action to help them. I also questioned students regarding their parents’ levels of involvement, their attitudes about their grades and school in general. I recorded notes on some of these informal conversations.

Homework via the Internet
In response to parent concerns about their ability to regularly monitor homework assignments, many teachers, including myself, posted our daily assignments to an Internet webpage that could be accessed by students and parents. I created a classroom homepage using an education company’s website. The page was accessible through the company’s website and also through a link contained on our school’s Internet website. Students were given a letter to share with their parents that contained the general information as well as classroom identification and password. Updates and reminder notices were also distributed at several other instances throughout the year.

DATA

Student Surveys
My surveys of approximately 40 of my current Eighth-grade students examined the students’ perception of their parents’ level of involvement in their academics in elementary school compared to their level of involvement during their middle school years. (See Exhibit A) The measurement was based on several potential areas of involvement, the most important of which were parental attendance at PTA meetings and the frequency of parents checking the children’s homework assignments. The students reported that in elementary school 47% of their parents attended PTA meetings frequently or occasionally (minimum 2-3 meetings per year), while at the middle school level, the percentage of parents attending meetings frequently or occasionally decreased to 36%. Additionally, the percentage of parents who never attended PTA meetings increased from 31% to nearly half of the parents, 47%.

Parents also checked the students’ homework less during middle school than in elementary school. The percentage of parents who checked homework at least once per week dropped from 70% in elementary school down to 44% in middle school. In particular, more than half of elementary school parents (53%) checked homework every night, but that number decreased to 19% during middle school. At the same time, the number of parents who never checked their children’s homework also increased dramatically, rising from 11% in elementary school to 39% in middle school.

Finally, the majority of the students surveyed achieved lower grades in middle school than in elementary school, and many described the difference as significant. Approximately 44% of the students surveyed reported having “much higher” grades in elementary school, 28% reported receiving “somewhat higher” grades in elementary school and 19% reported their grades were essentially the same. (See Exhibit B).

Parent Surveys
I conducted surveys of the parents soon after the student surveys were completed. (See Exhibit C.) I conducted the surveys anonymously at our first Parent-Teacher Night in early November. I chose that venue because I wanted the opportunity to answer any questions about the surveys because, although they were anonymous, they did ask personal questions concerning the parents’ level of education and feelings about education. The average turnout at the conference and the voluntary nature of the survey resulted in less participation than expected. However, the surveys I did receive revealed universally positive feelings from parents about their past education and education completion levels generally through high school. When questioned about their present level on involvement (the choices were high, medium and low), no parent reported anything less than a medium level of involvement. The majority of the parents also indicated that their level of involvement had not decreased since elementary school. While the surveys were informative regarding the parents’ attitudes towards education, the sample size was too small to provide any conclusive results. Were more surveys completed by a representative sample of my student’s parents, I believe the data may have been dramatically different in several areas.

Communication with Parents
On the first day of school, I sent a letter home to the parents of all my students, introducing myself and outlining the basic curriculum requirements and my expectations. The letter also stressed the importance of their involvement and invited them to visit the classroom at any time. Approximately 80 of 85 students returned letters signed by their parents. Also, in conjunction with my principal, I also drafted a letter on school letterhead addressed to employers that requested they partner with our school in promoting parent involvement by granting parents one paid ½ day off to visit the school. The letter was advertised and distributed at PTA meetings throughout the year. To my knowledge, no parent this year utilized the letter to facilitate an in-school visit.

Throughout the school year, I participated in many parent conferences, with many of these occurring at our school’s Parent-Teacher Night when the topic was the child’s latest report card. The vast majority of the other conferences took place after myself or another teacher/administrator had specifically requested that a particular parent come to the school regarding an academic or disciplinary issue. Additionally, we also mailed Progress Reports home to parents in the middle of each academic marking period, specifically targeting those students in danger of failing. The letters included teacher comments on the specific areas in which the child was struggling and offered several suggestions for improvement.

When questioned about their level of involvement during conferences, parents generally agreed that their children required more supervision. They revealed several common reasons for their existing (or non-existing) level of involvement: unfamiliarity/intimidation by the academic subject matter, insecurity about how to provide assistance to their children, time constraints due to commitments to jobs or younger children and a general overestimation of their child’s responsibility level.

In order to combat these problems, in several cases I first suggested that parents begin monitoring their children’s homework on a regular basis. Based on follow-up conversations with parents and students, most parents were willing and able to increase the frequency of their homework checking and assistance. In some cases the homework checks became daily occurrences. For those students whose parents increased homework monitoring, I generally found that the instances of missing or incomplete assignments greatly decreased and class participation increased across the board. Several students reported that they understood the material more clearly and followed the lesson easily, which, in turn, increased their willingness to volunteer during class discussions. The results on classroom examinations were mixed. Most of the students improved their performance on examinations, but only approximately ½ of the students who reported increased parent involvement demonstrated passing grades of 80% or above on the examinations on a consistent basis.

Several parents did not remember the course material in any detail and expressed hesitation in their ability to assist their children with their homework. For them, I recommended (for approximately eight parents) that they start having weekly conversations with their children about their material being covered in their Social Studies class. The rationale was that the child should be capable of providing an explanation of a topic (i.e. Causes of the Civil War) that should at least sound reasonable to the parent based on their general knowledge of the subject. If the explanation did not sound plausible or the child was incapable of explaining the topic, then the parent should recognize that the child did not fully understand the topic. The parent should then recommend that the child re-read the related chapter in the textbook and his/her class notes and redo the homework. According to my follow-up conversations with students, approximately 2 of the 8 parents attempted to utilize this method, but it was not used on a consistent or long-term basis. While this method sounded promising, the students suggested that perhaps this expectation of parents was somewhat unrealistic.

Homework via the Internet
In addition to our school’s administration establishing an Internet homepage for the school as a method to increase contact with parents, many teachers also created their own individual classroom homepages as an additional communication tool. The main advantage of the Internet classroom website that I explained to parents was that it empowered them to monitor their children’s homework assignments independently and eliminate to issue of children being dishonest or forgetful about their homework. After introducing the Internet homework program, I generally received positive responses from both the students and parents that the website was informative and helpful. The program was effective in reducing missed homework for absent students and those who failed to record the assignment during class.

The website allows teachers to monitor the number of visitors to the website by requesting each visitor to identify themselves as a student, parent or ‘other’ before granting them access to the classroom homepage. Teachers can also monitor which sections of the homepage visitors are frequenting, for example Announcements, Assignments, etc. For the period from September through May, the website recorded 1,581 visits to my classroom homepage, comprised of 1,301 students, 255 parent visits and 25 others. The majority of the student visits were to the Assignments page, while the parents divided their attention between the general homepage with 104 visits and the Assignments page with 97 visits.

Parents reported the site as helpful, when accessed, but also reported several shortcomings. The primary concern was that a considerable percentage of my student’s parents do not have Internet access at home. Also, although paperwork detailing the program was distributed to both students and parents on several occasions, many parents reported being unaware of the availability of the website. Other reported problems were a general unfamiliarity with Internet usage and the students’ failure to relay important information concerning the website. While there were more than enough parents who did have Internet access and usage experience to render the program a success, too many families fell through the cracks to make the plan a cure-all for solving homework problems.

CASE STUDY
In order to evaluate the potential effects of parent involvement in the classroom, I followed the experience of one student who actually had his parents visit the school and sit-in on several classes. As stated earlier, despite my best efforts, enticing parents to sit-in on classes proved to be the most difficult aspect of the research I conducted. This student’s experience illustrates the problems of instituting classroom visitations, their benefits when they do occur, and their limitations.

My key student, Dante (a fictional name for purposes of this study), is an average Eighth grade student, in terms of standardized test scores, personality, attitude and behavior. Dante started the year out on shaky academic ground, achieving an 80% average in my Social Studies class, but failing two others: Math and Science. I did not see his family on Parent-Teacher Night, but that was not uncommon when a student achieved a good grade in the class. Then, according to Dante, he began to ‘relax’ in my class. He began to miss homework assignments or not complete them to the best of his ability. Dante also began to fail tests and quizzes, some very badly. I followed the protocol of sending a Progress Report to his home, alerting his family that he was in danger of failing the class. His family did not respond to the Progress Report. He failed the class for the marking period and his parents did not attend the second Parent-Teacher Night in the middle of February. After conferencing with Dante about his grades and seeing no tangible improvement, I became concerned that he may fail for a second time in early March. I called his home and left two messages requesting a conference regarding his grades. The ensuing conference with Dante’s father and sister revealed that not only had Dante been dishonest in responding to his family’s questions concerning his academics, but had actually hidden his second marking period report card from them.

After that meeting, Dante’s adult sister began sitting-in on several of his classes for approximately 4 days per week for two weeks and made 1-2 surprise appearances thereafter. She also began checking and assisting Dante with his homework on a nightly basis. Since that time I began to see a dramatic improvement in Dante’s performance in my class. He went from a student who generally did not participate in classroom discussions to being the first hand up to answer questions. He also began expressing very forceful and well-considered opinions and spurring class discussions, even to the point where his classmates began to tire of the sound of his voice. He stopped missing homework and the quality of the written work greatly improved; he even began to type several assignments. His grades on test and quizzes began to improve, including several grades of 80% or better.

When I interviewed Dante about the causes of his improvement, he stated that he was participating more in class because his understanding the material improved since he was reading the textbook more consistently and spending more time on his homework. He credited his sister’s help with his homework as a significant factor in this process. Dante also felt that his focus and participation in class helped his test scores. He achieved an average of 75% in my class for the fourth marking period and an overall average of approximately 70% for the year. While he was certainly capable of achieving a higher average, this represented a major improvement over his position when the family intervention began.

However, Dante’s results were not as encouraging in his other classes. While, his homework improved in both his Math and Science classes, his test scores did not. Dante claims that he has always struggled with Math, and his Science projects were his undoing. Both his Math and Science teachers confirmed his assessment. Interestingly, his Science teacher noted that Dante’s sister only visited her class once or twice and their conversations were infrequent. Based on this fact and Dante’s own opinion of the impact of his sister’s visits, I concluded that Dante focused his efforts most intently on those classes and teachers that his sister focused on and paid less attention to the others. For example, he did not attend the extra help sessions in Mathematics and English that were available after-school and on weekends.

Unfortunately, this tale does not have a storybook ending. Dante’s re-invention as a student occurred too late to overcome the hole that he dug for himself; while he saved himself in Social Studies, Dante was forced to attend Summer School for not achieving an overall average of 65% or better in his Math and Science classes. Thus, Dante’s sister’s intervention, while certainly more dramatic than most teachers would call for, is still instructive in its benefits. The intervention did help Dante to improve his work ethic and academic performance, but there was still room for improvement beyond the inspiration his family could provide.

ANALYSIS
My data suggests that contrary to popular belief, urban parents do get involved in their children’s education; but their level of involvement decreases dramatically between the elementary school and middle school years. This lack of involvement is directly hurting the academic performance of middle school students, due their continuing need for supervision and assistance with the material. Those factors, combined with the additional distractions that middle school students face with the onset of adolescence, have proved overwhelming for many of them. Through the use of surveys and notes from parent communications, three specific levels of problems with parental involvement are identified and three strategies for overcoming these problems become apparent.

First, parents noted a variety of causes for their decreased involvement in their children’s academics at the middle school level: unfamiliarity with the course material, time constraints, and simply allowing their children more independence to manage their own schoolwork. Particularly in the areas of PTA attendance and checking student’s homework, schools and teachers must work to keep parents participating at a high level by demonstrating to them that children need their parent’s involvement more than ever at the Middle School level. This will require more planning on the school and teacher’s part to develop effective strategies for increasing parental involvement. The PTA allows parents to stay abreast of events and programs that may be useful to their families and allows casual contact with teachers and school administrators. Involvement with homework can provide children with assistance for troubling subjects and keep them aware that parents are maintaining high expectation levels for time commitment, quality of work produced, and ultimately grades. Dante’s case study illustrates that a family member’s physical presence at the school combined with home monitoring of work can have a powerful effect on a child’s work ethic and results.

Second, Middle School parents generally will increase their involvement if requested, but their efforts are often more reactive then proactive. When I contacted parents about crisis situations or they received a failing report card, they were much more responsive than when I made general requests for more involvement. In many of those cases, however, the response came too late to salvage a passing grade for the student or to reverse poor study habits. Parents also reported some hesitation in contacting teachers for updates on their children without an invitation from the teacher to do so. It is a reported fact that a sense of intimidation of teachers by parents is still a barrier to effective communication, particularly across differing cultures. It is imperative that teachers convince parents that their assistance is essential at the beginning of the school year, before bad habits manifest themselves in poor grades. Teachers must also convince parents that dialogue between them is welcome and will be beneficial for the students. In some cases, letters home may not be enough; teachers and administrators must be willing to take additional steps to initiate dialogue with parents.

The third problem is that not all parents know how to effectively assist their children academically. Many students are attempting to complete their homework and studies, but require assistance, not monitoring. Several parents reported that their unfamiliarity with the material made them hesitant to assist their children with homework and studying. Given the fact that the majority of parents today work full-time jobs, it is unrealistic to expect them to review textbook material in their limited free time. Teachers must offer assistance to parents by devising creative assignments and study methods in order to make it easier for parents to involve themselves in the course material. While this is not feasible to accomplish on an everyday basis, occasional parent-oriented assignments would be very useful in involving parents in homework in a meaningful way. When parents feel they understand the material, they are much more willing to spend time assisting students with homework and discussing the material in general.

POLICY IMPLICATIONS
While this a small sample to parents and students, the research has shown that parent involvement decreases between elementary and middle school, but middle school students perform at a higher academic level when their parents are involved in their schoolwork. Therefore, in order to increase that involvement there must be a concerted effort at the classroom level, the school level and the district level to talk to parents about what level of involvement their children need them to provide.

Classroom Level
Classroom teachers must increase their efforts to initiate and maintain contact and involvement from parents. Teachers must write introductory letters to parents, maintain an open-door visitation policy, and continue to reach out to both responsive and unresponsive parents. Reports that include good academic news may assist in promoting more cooperative relationships and increased dialogue between teachers and parents. Teachers must also find methods to get parents involved in students’ homework beyond simply checking to see that it is done. One method may be to initiate several low-maintenance joint student-parent assignments that serve to facilitate family discussions and build parents’ confidence in their abilities to understand the material and assist their children.

School Level
At the school level, administrators must dedicate time and resources to promoting parental involvement. Methods such a parent orientation sessions where expectations for involvement are clearly delineated and explained, have been found to be helpful. Several schools have achieved increases in participation through programs/changes designed in response to parents’ suggestions in school questionnaires.

Schools must also support the growth of teachers in the area of developing parent relationships. That starts with dedicating planning time, such as professional development sessions, to sharing previously effective methods for increasing involvement, as well as brainstorming new and creative techniques. Teachers, especially new teachers, cannot be left to themselves to devise effective strategies for involvement. Additionally, schools must assist teachers in communicating with unresponsive parents. Administrators must be willing to make phone calls to parents and assign other support staff to assist in those efforts. One area for improvement in that regard is increasing the availability of translators to facilitate communication with families that do not speak English as their primary language.

District Level
School districts must also allocate resources to conducting research and developing effective strategies for improving parental involvement. This may require consultations with experts in the field, training for local superintendents and principals, and funding for new initiatives as well as existing programs that have been effective in other jurisdictions. School districts must also be willing to consult with local politicians, community leaders and parents to discuss their concerns and receive their input on potential solutions. Administrators can no longer lament the absence of parental involvement without making tangible efforts to include them as a valuable part of the educational experience.

The need for improvement in our schools has been well documented over recent years and changes have been made that appear initially to be experiencing some success. However, all of our problems cannot be solved by legislation or by well-intentioned and dedicated professionals working in a vacuum. Only through discussion and cooperation between all of the various constituencies in the community will the challenges to parental involvement be fully understood and effective practices for change be instituted.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Henderson, A.T. and Berla, N., A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement. Washington, D.C., National Committee for Citizens in Education.

2. Sanders, Mavis and Epstein, Joyce (1998). School-Family-Community Partnerships in Middle and High Schools. Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk.

3. Steinberg, Laurence (1996). Beyond the Classroom: Why School Reform has Failed and What Parents Need to Do. New York: Simon & Schuster.

4. Bogenschneider, Karen and Johnson, Carol (2004). Family Involvement in Education: How Important Is It? What Can Legislators Do? Madison, W.I., University of Wisconsin Center for Excellence in Family Studies.

5. Henderson, A.T. and Mapp, K.L. (2002). A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Austin, TX. National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools

EXHIBIT A
STUDENT SURVEY

The purpose of this survey is to measure levels of parent involvement in elementary school and middle school. Please choose the answer that is the closest to your opinion.

_______ 1. How often did your parent attend PTA meetings when you were in elementary school?

a. Frequently
b. Occasionally (2-3 per year)
c. Once or twice
d. Never

_______ 2. How often did your parent speak your teachers in elementary school?

a. Very often
b. Parent-teacher nights
c. When teachers called
d. Not at all

_______ 3. How often did your parents check your homework per month in elementary school?

a. Almost every night
b. Once per week
c. Every 2 weeks
d. Never

_______ 4. How often did your parents help you with your homework per month in elementary school?

a. Almost every night
b. Once per week
c. Every 2 weeks
d. Never

_______ 5. Did your parent ever sit-in on any of your classes in elementary school?

a. Yes b. No

_______ 6. How were your grades in elementary school compared to junior high school?

a. The same
b. Much higher
c. A bit higher
d. A bit lower
e. Much lower

_______ 7. How much do you believe your parent’s involvement affected your grades in elementary school?

a. Major effect
b. Minor effect
c. No effect

_______ 8. How often does your parent attend PTA meetings in middle school?

a. Frequently
b. Occasionally (2-3 per year)
c. Once or twice
d. Never

_______ 9. How often does your parent speak your teachers in middle school?

a. Very often
b. Parent-teacher nights
c. When teachers call
d. Not at all

_______ 10. How often does your parents check your homework per month in middle school?

a. Almost every night
b. Once per week
c. Every 2 weeks
d. Never

_______ 11. How often do your parents help you with your homework per month in middle school?

a. Almost every night
b. Once per week
c. Every 2 weeks
d. Never

_______ 12. How aware are your parents of the topics you are covering in your major classes (ex. Civil War in social studies class)?

a. Very aware
b. They know about 1-2 classes
c. They ask me occasionally
d. Not aware

EXHIBIT B

EXHIBIT C

PARENT SURVEY

This survey is part of a research study being conducted on Parents, Children and their Schools. The purpose of the survey is to examine parents’ perspectives on schools and their children’s educational experiences. The children have already completed a survey with similar questions. Please answer as completely and accurately as possible. The survey is anonymous, so please do not write your name on it. Thanks for your cooperation.

1. What are your feelings about your own educational experience?

2. What is highest academic grade completed in your household?

 


3. What methods do you use to monitor your child’s academic progress in school?

4. How would you describe your child’s attitude towards school and education?

5. How would you describe your level of involvement in your child’s school (ex. homework, test preparation, teacher contact, PTA, etc.) – High, Medium or Low. Has it always been at this level?

 

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