An Examination of Parental Engagement During the Middle School Years
Jackson, Sheila Michelle
McLaughlin, Margaret J.
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The purpose of this quantitative study was to explore the previously unexamined phenomenon of middle school parental engagement in a large urban/suburban/rural school district of 209 schools in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Across 22 middle schools serving grades six-eight, this study collected and examined perceptions of the three key adult stakeholder groups – administrators, teachers, and parents – most actively involved in middle school parental engagement as described within the theoretical framework of academic socialization. Their reports of observable parental engagement activities were used to document how district stakeholders operationalize behaviors that represent the five actionable constructs and three themes of academic socialization to determine how the district “fares” in employing academic socialization as a middle school parent engagement strategy. The study also applied quantitative descriptive analysis through a one-way ANOVA to determine the significance of observable variations in actionable constructs between the perspectives of the three stakeholder groups. Finally, the study illuminated, through regression modeling, when confounding factors/independent variables such as race, income, school size, administrator and teacher experience, parents’ educational background, etc., impacted operationalization of academic socialization behaviors for middle school parent and family engagement. Rejecting the null hypothesis, the study found that the three stakeholder groups had statistically significant differences in perceptions of their implementation of activities aligned to academic socialization. This study ultimately illuminated ways in which these adult stakeholder groups share similar and varied perceptions about their engagement actions that support the achievement and maturation of middle school students. Significantly, this study provided key findings that illuminated areas that can be systemically addressed to transform middle school parent engagement practices through applied academic socialization theory into consistent and effective collaborative efforts between the home and school. The process of operationalizing academic socialization was outlined in terms that any school or district can follow to improve programs and practices of middle school parental engagement to serve in the best interests of students during this period of great transition for both child/adolescent growth and development and adult navigation of systems to provide support for students in this unique stage of growth and maturation.