Parent Involvement in Middle School: Cultivating Comprehensive and Inclusive Programs of Partnership

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Hutchins, Darcy
Croninger, Robert
The purpose of this study was to investigate how middle schools can cultivate comprehensive and inclusive parent involvement programs. More specifically, this study explored the role of district- and school-level leadership on the implementation of one district's parent involvement policy. Using micro and macro perspectives of policy implementation and Epstein's Six Types of Involvement framework of comprehensive parent involvement, this study highlighted promising parent involvement practices implemented by eight middle schools within one mid-Atlantic school district and illuminated the need for further investigation of secondary-level partnership program development and policy implementation. Data collection relied on case study methodology to investigate one district's implementation of middle school parent involvement policy. Data were triangulated from documents, district- and school-level interviews, and observations to explore how middle schools work with parents and how district administrators support school-level policy implementation. The document analysis portion of this study included the district's parent involvement policy, the eight participating schools' improvement plans, and the schools' report cards which reports test scores, demographics, and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status. The interview portion consisted of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with seven district leaders, eight middle school principals, 14 assistant principals, and 14 parents. The observation portion of this study included parent involvement workshops and school improvement team meetings. Results of this study indicate that principal leadership has a strong influence over the extent to which schools create a welcoming climate and implement activities to work with all parents, particularly families deemed "under-served." Principals' relationships with other school-level colleagues and district administrators impact their participation in capacity building opportunities. This study also indicates that further investigation is necessary to inform policy, research, and practice in regards to middle school parent involvement.