Academic journal article School Community Journal

A Comparison of Program Development at Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in the National Network of Partnership Schools

Academic journal article School Community Journal

A Comparison of Program Development at Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in the National Network of Partnership Schools

Article excerpt

Abstract

Based on survey data collected from 375 elementary, middle, and high schools in the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS), this paper identifies differences and similarities in the development and quality of schools' programs of school, family, and community partnership. Middle schools in the sample were similar to elementary schools in their implementation of practices to involve families and communities. Differences related to school level were primarily found between high schools and other school levels. These differences centered primarily on reported obstacles to partnerships and key aspects of program implementation. The significance and implications of the study's findings are discussed.

Introduction

Extensive research indicates that when schools, families, and communities work together as partners, students benefit (see summaries of studies in Epstein, 1992; Henderson & Berla, 1994; Rutherford, Anderson, Billig, & RMC Research Corporation, 1997). The inclusion of family involvement in the Goals 2000: Educate America Act is evidence of a growing national recognition of the importance of families and communities to students' school success at all ages and grade levels. Yet, despite the importance of families' active influence and engagement in their children's education, many families decrease their involvement as their children progress from elementary school to middle and high school (Eccles & Harold, 1993; Lee, 1994). Research suggests that this decline is due, in part, to weaker partnership practices in secondary schools (Dornbusch & Ritter, 1988). To explore similarities and differences between elementary and secondary schools' programs of school, family, and community partnership, this paper uses survey data collected from 375 elementary, middle, and high schools that joined the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) before December 1997. The paper further explores how the NNPS, an organization designed to build schools' capacity to develop excellent partnership programs, can address school level differences to foster greater parent and community involvement across grade levels.

School, Family, and Community Partnerships in Secondary Schools: Importance and Obstacles

Some educators and parents believe that the importance of family involvement in students' education declines as students mature (see Sanders & Epstein, 2000a). However, research documenting the importance of parental involvement for the school success of adolescents spans more than three decades. Family involvement practices at home and at school have been found to influence middle and high school students' academic achievement and success in school (Catsambis, 1998; Clark, 1983; Ginsburg & Hanson, 1986; Lee, 1994; Simon, 2001; VanVoorhis, 2001); school attendance (Astone & McLanahan, 1991; Epstein & Lee, 1995); homework effort (Keith, Reimers, Fehrman, Pottebaum, & Aubey, 1986; Keith, et al., 1993); and graduation and college matriculation rates (Conklin & Dailey, 1981; Delgado-Gaitan, 1988). Duncan (1969), for example, compared the attendance, achievement, and drop-out rates of two junior high classes. In one class, students' parents had individual meetings with counselors before their children entered junior high school. In the other class, counselors did not meet with students' parents. After three years, students whose parents met individually with school counselors had significantly higher attendance, grade point averages, and fewer school dropouts than students whose parents did not meet with the counselors.

Dornbusch and Ritter (1988) studied the effects of parental involvement in high school activities on student outcomes. The study was based on questionnaire data from students, parents, and teachers at six San Francisco Bay Area high schools. The authors found that adolescents whose parents attended school functions received higher grades than adolescents whose parents did not. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.