Academic journal article Education

Do School Boards Encourage Parent Involvement?

Academic journal article Education

Do School Boards Encourage Parent Involvement?

Article excerpt

Studies of the effects of parent involvement on student achievement and attitudes toward school offer encouraging news for educators and parents. Evidence indicates that parents' active participation in teacher suggested student learning activities, can often enhance children's achievement and attitude toward a subject, especially reading (Greene, 1991; Epstein, 1989; Kennedy, 1991; Wepner & Caccavale, 1991). Despite the documented benefits of parent involvement, in some schools, parent involvement is minimal and decrease in the upper grades (Parents and schools, 1988).

If parent involvement in schools has a direct contribution to student learning, to what degree are school boards influencing their administrators to provide such programs? This study examines the responses of school administrators over four and a third year period following their attendance at 576 board meetings t determine: 1) the extent to which central office administrators are assigned tasks that are focused upon supporting and directing principals and other schoo district administrators to attend to fostering positive parent involvement, 2) the nature of the tasks developed to enhance parent involvement in schools.

Previous studies of the leadership activity of school boards have examined the relationship of school board minutes and motions to reform efforts. Nowakowski and First (1989) investigated school board minutes to determine Illinois school boards' responses to the Illinois Educational Reform Act of 1985. They found reform-related motions accounted for only 4% of all motions over a three year period. Studying school board motions is but one useful approach to determine the directions of school boards. Other studies have also examined school board minutes (Lutz, 1977; Scribner, 1977). However, school board minutes do not capture other important activity that takes place in school districts (Nowakowski & First, 1989) nor do they measure the actual administrative action that take place immediately following school board meeting attendance. This study measured the nature of administrators' tasks immediately following school board meetings to determine school boards' influence on encouraging administrators to complete tasks associated with parental involvement.

Methodology

Sample

School boards

A ten school board supervisory union in rural Vermont, comprising six school-operating and four non-school-operating school boards, was the focus of this investigation. The first six school boards operated a grades K-6 or grades K-8 school. These boards tuitioned their grades 7-9 or grades 9-12 students to adjacent town high schools. Three of the remaining boards were responsible for assuring for the provision of a grades K-12 education for their school-age children, but tuitioned all of their students to adjacent town elementary and high schools. A tenth board, the supervisory union board, was a non-school-operating board, and was composed of representatives from each of th other nine boards. The supervisory union board hired a superintendent and other central office professional and non-professional staff, supervised the operatio of special education and compensatory education, was the fiscal agent of a state-wide leadership center funded by the United States Department of Educatio LEAD Program, and provided coordination and leadership for the managerial, fiscal, and instructional aspects of the general education program for each of the six school-operating-school boards. Thirty-nine school board members served on the ten boards.

School age-population for each town ranged from 51-597. Of the eight towns represented in the sample, six were typical Vermont towns with moderately low income, moderately low education level, with a low proportion of school taxes generated from non-residential sources. In contrast, the two remaining towns either had enormous income wealth or business-related school tax revenue in comparison with the first six and both had numerous professional families with advanced levels of education. …

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