TITLE I MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPALS' PERCEPTIONS OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT MANDATES
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Research findings show a positive relationship between parental involvement and students’ academic performance and motivation to learn (Epstein, 2001). Data also indicate that administrators play a key role in improving parental involvement in schools (Epstein, 2001; Griffith, 2001; Kafka, 2009; Richardson, 2009). As such, the federal government has mandated, via the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, that principals adhere to certain polices pertaining to parental involvement. However, the extent to which principals of Title I middle schools are implementing practices consistent with these policies remains unknown. To improve our knowledge of how to increase parental engagement in high-poverty schools, a survey-based study was conducted among 30 principals of Title I middle schools in a large, demographically diverse Local Educational Agency to assess their perceptions of (a) the value of parental involvement activities and (b) their preparation to perform these activities. Although the respondents perceived that the Title I Parental Mandates regarding parental involvement activities were important and that they were prepared to perform them, the perceived importance was greater than perceived preparation to perform them (t = 5.114, p < .001, Cohen’s d = .936). Another important finding concerned respondents’ perceptions of barriers to implementing Title I parental involvement mandates. The most important barrier that the respondents perceived as limiting their ability to perform the mandated parental involvement activities was time (43% of participants). Other barriers mentioned were personnel, budget, training, and parents’ nonparticipation. When asked to report parental engagement strategies they had used and found effective, 60% mentioned parent meetings, 37% mentioned other types of school-initiated contact, and 30% mentioned various types of opportunities for parents to initiate contact with the school. The results corroborate those of Barnyak and McNelly (2009), who found that although administrators have strong beliefs about parental involvement, their specific practices do not always align with their beliefs. The findings of the current research add that one reason for the disconnect between beliefs and practice might be lack of preparation.