How Parents Perceive Their Roles in Their Ninth Grade Child’s Education Jake Johnston School of Teacher Education, Western Kentucky University. Abstract
How Parents Perceive Their Roles in Their Ninth Grade Child’s EducationJake Johnston School of Teacher Education, Western Kentucky University
Parental involvement is a major issue that many schools are working to address; however, parents and teachers may find themselves at odds about the role of the parent in a child’s education. This study examined two questions concerning parental involvement: (1) What role do parents believe they play in their ninth grade child’s education? (2) How can teachers and parents better collaborate to ensure student success? Data was collected from parents and teachers of ninth grade students at Allen County-Scottsville High School. The collection process consisted of rating scales and interviews with parents, and surveys completed by teachers. Parent rating scale responses indicated that parents see themselves as playing a major role in their child’s education, but would also be willing to become more involved. Teacher survey responses indicated that a majority of teachers believe parents are somewhat involved in their child’s education, but there is a desire for a higher level of involvement. These findings suggest that parents may be willing to become more involved in their child’s education, but may also need further guidance in how to do so.
What role do parents believe they play in their ninth grade child’s education?
How can teachers and parents better collaborate to ensure student success?
The data showed that a vast majority of parents want to take a greater role in their child’s education. Likewise, the data shows all teachers of freshman students feel parents should be more involved in their child’s education. There is however some disconnect between teachers and parents about parents current level of involvement. According to the data, nearly all parents feel like they play a major role in their child’s education. Table 1 shows a percentage breakdown of parent responses to the Likert rating scale. Even though 85% of parents believe they play a major role in their child’s education, 93% would like to play a greater role.
Teachers were not in agreement with parents concerning the role parents play in their child’s education. Figure 1 shows that of the twenty-one teachers who have freshmen students in class, none indicated that they believe parents to be highly involved in their child’s education. The results were split with 12 teachers believing that parents are somewhat involved, and nine seeing a low level to no level of involvement. All teachers wish that parents were a little to a lot more involved with their child’s education, but a majority felt that parents were fine with their current level of involvement (See Figures 2 and 3). When asked how frequently parents discuss with their children what they learned at school, the most common answer was not often; however, discussing the school day was one way that interviewed parents said they were involved in their child’s education.
The project followed an explanatory mixed-methods design. The researcher first collected quantitative data (60 parent rating scales and 21 teacher surveys) and then gathered further qualitative data (10 parent interviews) to help elaborate the quantitative results. Data analysis techniques such as finding the median measure of central tendency, visual graphs, and inductive reasoning were used by the researcher to formulate results. The parent rating scale contained 15 statements for parents to rate. The scale was a Likert rating scale meaning that for each question, parents rated how much they agreed with a statement ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The rating scales helped the researcher examine how parents viewed their role in their child’s education.
At the end of the rating scale is a line which parents marked if they were willing to be interviewed. The researcher conducted 10 semi-structured interviews with parents of freshmen, recording each with the iPhone application QuickVoice. The parent interviews allowed the researcher to gain more insight into the responses on the parent rating scale.
Each teacher survey contained 15 multiple choice questions for teachers of freshmen students to respond to. The purpose of the teacher survey was to compare how teachers believe parents see their role in their children’s education, and for teachers to reflect on the extent to which they collaborate with parents.
Parent Self-Evaluation of involvement in child's education
The Freshmen Academy was created four years ago at Allen County-Scottsville High School (ACSHS). One of the purposes of the Academy is to ease the transition of students into the high school setting. Before the Academy was begun, ACSHS found itself in the same situation as many other schools. Freshmen students had the greatest amount of failing grades and the greatest amount of discipline referrals. Many discussions were held during team meetings through the past four years to attempt to resolve these stereotypical freshmen issues. Rewards days, individual student recognition, orientations, a mentoring program, intervention, and enrichment courses have all been implemented with mixed results. Although there has been some improvement, freshmen students still lead the high school in both failing grades and discipline referrals. One resource that has yet to be explored is expanded parent-teacher collaboration.
One of the most important times for collaboration between parents and teachers is the transition from eighth grade to high school. This time of transition can be difficult for children and parents. “Dealing with physical changes, striving for independence from family, and acquiring new methods of intellectual functioning are all emotional issues for emerging adolescents” (Letrello & Miles, 2003, p. 212). Children also likely move into a new school building and start taking a more difficult course load with teachers they do not know. It can be hard for parents to know how much independence they should give their child as they enter high school. Even though some parents want to be involved in their child’s education, they often are not sure what role to take. Bracke and Corts (2012) point out that one of the biggest barriers to parental involvement is the simple question, “What does parental involvement actually mean?” (p.191). The purpose of this study is to examine the role that parents of ninth grade students at Allen County-Scottsville High School believe they play in their child’s education, as well as determine how teachers and parents can collaborate to ensure student success.
Following the completion of the research an action plan was created with the goal of helping parents and teachers better collaborate to increase student achievement in the Freshmen Academy at Allen County-Scottsville High School. An increase in parental-teacher collaboration is not an action plan that can be initiated in a short period of time. It will likely grow over a several year process. The strategies proposed for the Freshmen Academy to use include hosting an orientation during the Spring Semester for incoming freshmen students and their parents, encouraging teachers to send letters home during the summer as an introduction to freshmen students and parents, an open house night one week before the beginning of school, quarterly freshmen PTA meetings, and a community mentoring program. If teachers and parents can effectively collaborate using these strategies, then a foundation will be set to increase student achievement in the Freshmen Academy and in the students’ further education.
The data indicates that parents do see themselves as playing a major role in their child’s education, but there is a desire and willingness to become more involved. Parents are generally satisfied with their child’s educational experience, but would like to know more about what their child is learning about at school. Teachers see parents as being somewhat involved but a majority agrees that they would like to see a greater level of involvement. It is especially evident in interviews that parents seem unsure about how to become more involved with the school beyond extracurricular activities such as sports or band.
In order for the parents to become more involved and play a greater role in their child’s education, the school needs to offer more opportunities beyond extracurricular activities. When asked how they played a role in their child’s education, every parent mentioned playing the role of supporter by checking grades, reminding students of projects, or asking their child about their day. If teachers and the school system want parents to go beyond this basic support role, the data indicates that parents need greater support and instruction in how to do so.
Bracke, D., & Corts, D. (2012). Parental involvement and the theory of planned behavior. Education, 133 (1), 188-201.
Letrello, T. & Miles, D. (2003). The transition from middle school to high school. Clearing House, 76 (4), 212.