Academic journal article School Community Journal

The Enduring Influence of School Size and School Climate on Parents' Engagement in the School Community

Academic journal article School Community Journal

The Enduring Influence of School Size and School Climate on Parents' Engagement in the School Community

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study sought to examine the direct and indirect associations between school size and parents' perceptions of the invitations for involvement provided by their children's school in a school system that has actively attempted to reduce the negative effects of school size. Using data from the New York Public Schools' annual Learning Environment Survey, path analysis was used to examine the role that school climate plays in mediating the relationship between school size and parents' perceptions of invitations for involvement. Results from an analysis of middle and high school parents who participated in the annual school survey provided evidence that parents' perceptions of safety and of respect from the school mediated the relationship between school size and perceptions of the extent of the invitations for involvement provided by the school. The indirect effect of school size via perception of safety and respect was larger than the direct effect of school size on parents' perceptions of invitation for involvement.

Key Words: school size, climate, urban, middle, high, small schools, reform, mediation analysis, parents, engagement, family involvement, safety, respect

Introduction

Parental involvement in schools continues to be a critical issue for the stakeholders of the nation's education system (i.e., teachers, parents, educational administrators, policymakers, etc.; Epstein & Jansorn, 2004; Fan & Chen, 2001; Fege, 2000; Lloyd-Smith & Baron, 2010; Teicher, 2007). Parents' involvement as educators in the home, participants on school committees, and advocates for school reform both outside and within the system has been found to have positive impacts both individually, resulting in increased academic performance of the recipient daughter or son, and on the school community as a whole (Fan & Chen, 2001; Green, Walker, Hoover-Dempsey, & Sandler, 2007; Walsh, 2010). For those seeking to promote parental involvement, Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1995, 1997) provide a framework which identifies associated factors. In this model, the school environment (school climate), teachers, and children contribute to parents' motivation to be involved (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005). The extent to which both the school and their children invite parents and provide opportunities for involvement shapes the nature and extent of involvement (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005). The school improvement/reform literature has focused on the school's structure and management practices as important aspects of the school which shape parents' perceptions of the invitations for involvement. School reform models, for example, "Success for All" (Slavin, Karweit, & Madden, 1989) and the Social Development Model (Comer & Haynes, 1991), seek to promote parental involvement by making changes in school governance which will increase the opportunities for parental involvement (Magolda & Ebben, 2007). School reform efforts targeting school size also seek to promote greater student and parental involvement (Hartmann et al., 2009; Semel & Sadovnik, 2008). In the face of these reform efforts, there continues to be a need to better understand how structural aspects of school, for example school size, are related to parents' perception of the extent to which the school welcomes parental involvement.

Literature Review

Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1995, 1997), using a psychological framework, view parental involvement as having its beginnings in a set of perceptions parents have about their role as a parent, their self-efficacy within the school domain, and opportunities and invitations for involvement they receive from their child and the school personnel. Perceived opportunities for involvement focus on parent perception of the extent to which the school and their child want them to be involved. While limited, the literature indicates that children's stage of social-cognitive development and approaches to learning are all factors that are associated with the types of invitation for involvement provided to parents (Hoover-Dempsey et al. …

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.