Parents' Experiences with Data and Decision-Making in a Response to Intervention Process

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Title:
Parents' Experiences with Data and Decision-Making in a Response to Intervention Process
Physical Description:
1 online resource (195 p.)
Language:
english
Creator:
Craft, Susan A
Publisher:
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
School Psychology, Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies
Committee Chair:
Waldron, Nancy L
Committee Members:
Joyce, Diana
Denney, Maria Kathleen
Ashton, Patricia T
Hayes, Lynda F

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
data -- decision -- experiences -- intervention -- involvement -- parent -- response
Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre:
School Psychology thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract:
This qualitative research study investigated patterns of parental understanding and participation in an elementary school Response to Intervention (RtI) process. More specifically, this study examined the ways in which parents developed an understanding of their children's academic progress information as well as the ways in which parents participated in educational decision-making for their children. In addition, the roles that teachers and other support personnel at the school played in parents' understanding and participation in decision-making were explored. Qualitative methodology was used to gain a deep, meaningful understanding of parents' perceptions about their children's data, the ways in which they construct their role as decision-makers, and their experiences and impressions from engaging with school personnel during the RtI process. To obtain this rich information, data was collected over a 5-month period through individual interviews, observations, and review of relevant documents. Data analysis included coding, creating categories from the codes, finding patterns, and identifying and labeling themes. Data analysis produced four major themes regarding the ways in which parents develop an understanding of their children's academic progress information: 1) diverse and numerous opportunities to make sense of their child's progress; 2) reliance on joint examination of the data; 3) establishing a close, trusting relationship with their child's teacher; and 4) realizing the "whole picture" of their child. In terms of parent participation in decision-making for their children, three interactive and connected themes were revealed: 1) determining their level of involvement based on the intensity of their child's needs; 2) experiences within the parent-teacher dyad; and 3) interacting with existing components of the school system. In addition to these major themes, parents' unmet needs are discussed. Finally, suggestions for future research are offered.
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Susan A Craft.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Local:
Adviser: Waldron, Nancy L.
Electronic Access:
RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2013-08-31

Record Information

Source Institution:
UFRGP
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
Classification:
lcc - LD1780 2012
System ID:
UFE0044415:00001


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1 MAKING IN A RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION PROCESS By SUSAN ALEXANDRIA CRAFT A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012

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2 2012 Susan Alexandria Craft

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3 To my parents

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents, David and Andrea Craft, for supporting me and challenging me throughout my life to become a stronger student and better person. I have no doubt that this process would have been exceedingly more difficult without their constant encouragement, words of wisdom, and consolation. Words c annot express the eternal gratitude I have for them and the sacrifices they have made so that I could be able to pursue my dreams. I am grateful for my chairperson, Dr. Nancy Waldron. I appreciate her collaborative spirit and experienced advice as I conduc ted my first qualitative research study, as well as her support for my endeavors throughout my graduate school career. I would also like to thank Dr. Diana Joyce for her willingness to help me in every way and for her positive demeanor. In addition, I am v ery appreciative of my other committee members for their time and effort: Dr. Patricia Ashton, Dr. Maria Denney, and Dr. Lynda Hayes. Their unique knowledge and expertise were invaluable to this process. This study would not have been possible without mean ingful contribution from the participants. The parents, teachers, and support staff allowed me to take a peek into their lives, and I am very grateful for their willingness to guide this study. The information that I gleaned from them has certainly informe d my own professional practices, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work with such helpful and accommodating people during this time intensive process. I would not have been able to persist through graduate school without my family and friends I would like to thank my sisters, Mallory Daniels and Mary Beth Staude Both have always supported and cheered me on. F rom a young age, Mallory has given me confidence to work hard and has pushed me to do

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5 my best through being my n atural born competition and trusted confidant I am also grateful for some of my best friends: Peta Niehaus, Lane Baldwin, Nicole Wyse, Leah Johnston, and Lindsey Herndon. These women challenge me to love everyone I meet and to always show compassion, which are skills that will be invaluable in my life. In addition, I am very thankful for Garrett Astary. I appreciate his ability to lighten my mood and build me up, and for lending me a shoulder to cry on when I need it. Garrett has always encouraged me, even during my most challen ging moment s and has been a constant source of strength during the chaos of graduate school Finally, I want to thank the members of my cohort who have been in Gainesville for as long as I have: Cathy Pasia, Jenny Heretick, Sta cey Rice, Sally Moore, Katrina Moore, and Suzie Long. I cannot imagine going through graduate school with better people.

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6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 9 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 11 CHAPTER 1 REVIE W OF THE LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ............ 13 Nature of the Problem ................................ ................................ ............................. 13 Description of Response to Intervention (RtI) ................................ ......................... 15 RtI and the Roles of Parents ................................ ................................ ................... 18 Political and Legal Rationale for RtI ................................ ................................ ........ 20 The Relationship Between Po litical/Legal Initiatives and RtI ................................ ... 21 NCLB, IDEA, and Parental Involvement ................................ ................................ 22 Early and Continued Involvement ................................ ................................ ..... 23 Delivery of Comprehensive Information ................................ ........................... 24 Ongoing Home School Communication ................................ ........................... 26 Collabo ration ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 27 Parent Training and Professional Development ................................ ............... 28 Traditional Parental Involvement Practices ................................ ............................. 29 Traditional Home School Communication Practices ................................ ........ 30 Traditional Participation of Parents in Educational Decision Making ................ 34 Rationale for Parental Involvement in RtI Processes ................................ .............. 38 Critique of Existing Literature and Problem Statement ................................ ........... 45 2 METHODS AND PROCEDURES ................................ ................................ ........... 50 Nature of the Research Study ................................ ................................ ................. 50 Description of Setting ................................ ................................ .............................. 53 Description of Participants ................................ ................................ ...................... 54 Data Collection Procedures ................................ ................................ .................... 57 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 58 Observations ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 61 Document review ................................ ................................ .............................. 62 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 63 Methodological Issues ................................ ................................ ............................ 65 Researcher Subjectivity Statement ................................ ................................ ......... 67

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7 3 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 74 Academic Progress Information ................................ ................................ ........... 75 Diverse and Numerous Opportunities to Make Sense of the Data ................... 78 Patterns of Formal and Informal Communication ................................ ....... 78 Focus on the Assessment Intervention Link ................................ .............. 84 Reliance on Joint Examination of the Data ................................ ....................... 86 During Direct Contact with the Teacher ................................ ..................... 86 With Other S ources of Social Support ................................ ....................... 91 ........... 94 Trust in Teacher Judgment ................................ ................................ ........ 94 Teacher as a Source of Emotional Support ................................ ............... 95 Teacher as a Source of Valuable Information ................................ ............ 98 ................ 101 Use of Data in Conjunction with Parent and Teacher Observations ........ 101 ............... 105 ................................ .............................. 109 The Ways in Which Parents Participate in Educational Decision Making for Their Child ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 114 Determining Their Level of Involvement Based on the Intensity of Their ................................ ................................ .............................. 116 Experiences Within the Parent Teacher Dyad ................................ ................ 118 Information Gathering ................................ ................................ .............. 118 Wor ................................ ........... 122 Interacting with Existing Components of the School System .......................... 129 High Level of Parental Involvement ................................ ......................... 129 Use of Data to Guide Decision Making ................................ .................... 133 Value of Professional Teamwork ................................ ............................. 139 Description of RtI Provided to Parents and Staff ................................ ...... 142 4 SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ............ 147 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 147 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 152 Alignment with Suggested Parental Roles During RtI ................................ .... 152 Professi onal Development for Teachers and School Staff ............................. 158 Preparing Parents ................................ ................................ .......................... 161 Tiered Model for Working with Parents Systemically ................................ ...... 163 Limitations and Future Research ................................ ................................ .......... 167 APPENDIX A LETTERS OF INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ 172 B DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION FORMS ................................ ........................... 178

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8 C INTERVIEW GUIDES ................................ ................................ ........................... 181 D SAMPLE CBM SHEET ................................ ................................ ......................... 185 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 188 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 195

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9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Data collection and analysis schedule ................................ ................................ 70 2 2 Parent demographic information ................................ ................................ ......... 71 2 3 Teacher demographic information ................................ ................................ ...... 72 2 4 Support personnel demographic information ................................ ...................... 73

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10 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 H ow do parents of children receiving intervention develop an understanding of academic progress information during an RtI process? ................................ .. 77 3 2 How do parents of children receiving intervention partic ipate in educational decision making during an RtI process? ................................ ........................... 115

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11 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillmen t of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy MAKING IN A RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION PROCES S By Susan Alexandria Craft August 2012 Chair: Nancy Waldron Major: School Psychology This qualitative r esearch study investigated patterns of parental understanding and participation in an elementary school Response to Intervention (RtI) process. More specifically, this study examined the ways in which parents developed an understanding academic progress information as well as the ways in which parents participated in educational decision making for their children. In addition, the roles that and participa tion in decision making were explored. Qualitative methodology was used to gain a deep, meaningful understanding of role as decision makers, and their experiences and impressions from engaging with school personnel during the RtI process. To obtain this rich information, data was collected over a 5 month period through individual interviews, observations, and review of relevant documents. Data analysis included coding, creating categories from the codes, finding patterns, and identifying and labeling themes. Data analysis produced four major themes regarding the ways in which parents develop an understanding of their child ren

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12 In terms of pa rent participation in decision making for their child ren, three interactive and connected themes were revealed: 1) needs; 2) experiences withi n the parent teacher dyad; and 3 ) i nteracting with existing needs are discussed. Finally, suggestions for future research are offered.

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13 CHAPTER 1 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Nature of the Problem The roles of p parents have moved past fulfilling basic obligations to becoming more directly involved supporting l earning at home (Henderson & Berla, 1994). This expansion of roles is not surprising, as researchers have repeatedly demonstrated the importance of parental Childre & Chambers, 2005 ; Dyson, 2001; Mundschenk & Foley, 1994 ). Benefits include increased levels of student academic motivation and achievement (Norris, 1999; Watkins, 1997) as well as the establishment of a trusting relationship between the school and home (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001; Steere, Pancsofar, Wood & Hecimovic, 1990). In addition, parents who participate in making process (Stancin, Reuter, Dunn, & Bickett, 1984) and more effective problem solving strategies (N ewmann & Wehage, 1995). However, despite the benefits of facilitating parent participation in meaningful ways (Burns & Gibbons, 2008). In fact, researchers assert that constructing opportunities for parental involvement (Reschly, Coolong Chaffin, Christenson, & Gutkin, 2007, p. 148). Communication and decision making are two important roles that parents often

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14 school (i.e., home school communication) (Brantlinger, 1987; Harniss, Epstein, Bursuck, Nelson, & Jay anthi, 2001; Harry, 1992; Waltman & Frisbie, 1994) and parent participation during educational decision making (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Harry, 1992; McNamara, Telzrow, & DeLamatre, 1999; Vaughn, 1988). However, few studies to date have examined such role s of parental involvement within Response to Intervention (RtI) processes. RtI is designed to not only improve instruction and intervention for students, but also enhance parental involvement. However, since procedures associated with RtI are newly impleme nted in schools, it is important for researchers to investigate how parents understand and participate in these new processes. The following literature review examines the traditional ways in which schools interact with parents through two methods: the inf ormation that is provided to parents educational decision making for their child. For this study, these topics were examined in light of RtI implementation. Therefore, topics related to RtI were also examined, including components of RtI that facilitate parental understanding and involvement, the alignment of these components with legal documents and policy initiatives, and ways that RtI processes can improve upon curren t parental involvement practices. This study examined various aspects of parental understanding and involvement within RtI processes, thus the literature review begins with a description of RtI. This includes an explanation of core components of RtI, avail able roles for parents within RtI processes, and challenges to including parents in RtI. Then, the political and legal rationale for implementing RtI is discussed. In particular, this section analyzes the No

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15 Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002) and Individuals w ith Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) policies with regards to what these federal laws describe as ideal parental involvement practices. Next, actual parental involvement practices are described. In particular, this includes a summary of research abo ut traditional patterns of home school communication and parental participation in educational decision making. In the final section, a rationale for parental involvement in RtI is provided. Following the literature review, the research methodology for the study is explained. This includes a description of the setting and participants, as well as the data collection procedures and analysis methods. In addition, methodological issues are discussed and a researcher subjectivity statement is provided. Descript ion of Response to Intervention (RtI) Response to Intervention (RtI) is a multi tiered service delivery method that is currently being implemented in public schools. The primary goal for an RtI approach is to improve instruction for all students, and secon test In achieving these goals, the RtI process might look different from school to school, district to district, and state to st ate; however, several core components are generally included in an RtI process. Implementation of RtI processes will ideally address limitations of current practices, including enhancing parental involvement within the school system (Reschly et al., 2007). Effective RtI processes include several core components, such as high quality, research based instruction in the general education setting (Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007; Mellard & Johnson, 2007), multi tiered intervention with increasing intens ity based on student need (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Mellard & Johnson,

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16 2007), and a focus on prevention and early intervention efforts (Mellard & Johnson, 2007; Vaughn, Wanzek, Woodruff, & Linan Thompson, 2007) paired with early identification of learning diff iculties (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). Furthermore, instruction and interventions are evaluated to measure fidelity of implementation (Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007; Mellard & Johnson, 2007). In addition, RtI processes emphasize the importance of data to drive educational decision making, including continuous monitoring of academic progress to assist in determining instructional modifications and identification if necessary (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Vaughn, Wanzek, Woodruff, & Linan Thompson, 2007), as well as collaborative problem solving efforts between school staff and parents (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007). To improve instruction for all students, RtI highlights the necessity of providing research based instruction in the gene ral education setting, as well as more intensive, research based intervention for students who require additional instruction (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007; Mellard & Johnson, 2007). (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006, p. 94) so that the academic needs of the majority of the student population are met by the core curriculum in the general education classroom. Furthermore, research methodology is used to i nform the choice of multi tiered Johnson, 2007, p. 3). More targeted, small group interventions should be implemented

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17 (Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007, pp. 4 5). Ther efore, if the core curriculum is effective, only a small proportion of the total student population should receive the most individualized and intensive instructional intervention. The focus on successful core instruction emphasizes the importance of preve ntion/early intervention and early identification, which are key features of RtI (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Mellard & Johnson, 2007; Vaughn, Wanzek, Woodruff, & Linan Thompson, 2007). While instruction is occurring, data are collected, both on student progress as well as intervention implementation integrity (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007; Mellard & Johnson, 2007; Vaughn, Wanzek, Woodruff, & Linan Thompson, 2007). Throughout multi mo nitored to determine effectiveness of the instruction they receive and student responsiveness to intervention. This includes both universal screening of academic difficulties for all students as well as progress monitoring of students receiving tiered inte rvention. Collecting such data assists teachers in determining if students are meeting the expected standards, as well as guides them in modifying instruction to better meet student needs (Mellard & Johnson, 2007). In addition, intervention implementation is assessed so that the RtI process can be enhanced and intervention outcomes can be systematically linked to intervention implementation (Mellard & Johnson, 2007). A final core component of an effective RtI approach is collaborative problem solving. Resea rchers (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007) suggest that problem solving efforts should include teachers, other school staff involved

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18 various areas of expertise helps to ensure that the student is receiving the most appropriate services in a timely manner. In addition, the goal of involving the parents in all stages of the problem monitor th school based professionals and parents become familiar with the stages of problem solving: problem identification, problem analysis, intervention planning and implementation, and pl an evaluation. Pairing this systematic process with reliance on data to guide educational decision making should lead to the most effective decision for the student (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). RtI and the Roles of Parents The 2004 Learning Disabilities Roundtab necessary, not optional, in a well conceive section is a commentary on what roles researchers expect parents to take on during RtI processes. While these perspectives and opinions are based on the body of literature addressing parent involvement, studies have not yet been conducted on parental involvement within RtI. Utilizing the core components of the RtI process can lead to can gain a more comprehensive understa process from early intervention through evaluation of intervention integrity allows parents to be involved throughout the enti re educational decision making process for their child. Third, the problem solving feature of RtI points to the importance of

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19 professional training related to home school collaboration efforts. All of these key features can have a positive impact on parent RtI processes focus on collecting functional, instructional data related to a that informs decision makers includes curriculum based measurements, which are collection procedures based on he data carry significant value for improving instruction, which often times is not indicated by traditional evaluations (Gresham, 2007; Klotz & Canter, 2006; Reschly et al., 2007). By cademic environment, everyone involved in the RtI process gains a better understanding of the students in the class (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). Parents are included in the proc ess and receive comprehensive data on their child, which can assist them in becoming informed about the instruction their child is receiving as well as academic progress. Overall, the use of data examined by the entire decision making team, not hunches or professional guesswork, drives the educational decisions in RtI (Gresham, 2007). Given that RtI emphasizes practices to prevent academic difficulties (e.g., high quality core instruction, universal screening and progress monitoring) as well as early interv ention (e.g., multi tiered intervention, data driven decision making), parents have Additionally, decision making teams, which include parents, examine all student d ata

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20 and implementation integrity while intervention is occurring, therefore parents have an opportunity to play a strong role throughout the entire decision making process (Gresham, 2007). Finally, RtI processes emphasize the necessity of collaboration ef forts between the home and school environments (Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007). For school staff, this can lead to professional development opportunities surrounding effective home school communication and strategies to involve parents in their chi education at school. Professional development might also focus on communicating academic performance, becoming involved in educational decision making, and seeking Although benefits for parents exist throughout RtI processes, challenges also occur. Some parents do not know how to seek out or access information related to RtI processes (K lotz & Canter, 2006). In addition, even if provided with such information, the responsibility of the school, and may not want or know how to evaluate effectiveness of instruction. Furthermore, it can be challenging for parents to understand their rights as outlined by regulations and guidelines, which includes a timeline of the RtI process as well as the ability to request an evaluation for special education services (K lotz & Canter, 2006). It is essential that these challenges be addressed throughout RtI implementation so that schools can most effectively meet the needs of parents. Political and Legal Rationale for RtI The rationale behind RtI has been driven by legal a nd political forces. The 2001 passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the 2004 reauthorization of the

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21 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have spurred the usage of RtI as a primary service delivery method in school systems. Both N CLB and IDEA promote the use of service delivery methods that provide universal screening of academic difficulties, progress monitoring for students at risk, and multi tiered interventions based components of RtI (Fletcher & Vaughn, 2009). IDEA also allows for better provision of early intervention services for at risk students, which has an effect on how instruction is delivered, where it is delivered, and who delivers it, which are also element s of RtI (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). The Relationship Between Political/Legal Initiatives and RtI NCLB is a federal policy initiative that primarily focuses on increasing student achievement through system wide accountability and high quality instruction (NCLB 2001). Core components of RtI that align with the goals of NCLB include prevention and early intervention for academic difficulties (U.S. Department of Education, 2003), use of scientifically based research (Cortiella, 2006), and accountability efforts ( Mellard & Johnson, 2007). Within RtI, this means that all students are screened for academic difficulties, and those who are experiencing difficulties receive intervention supports to monitored (Mellard & Johnson, 2007). Furthermore, use of research based practices is required in the general education classroom as well as during tiered interventions so that students make progress toward grade level benchmarks (Cortiella, 2006; Mellard & Johnson, 2007). Within RtI processes, high quality instruction is closely linked to frequent assessment of student progress to ensure that students are making progress toward s own

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22 goals for high student achievement and the alignment of instruction, interventions, and IDEA is the federal law that assists in serving individuals with disabilities, ages 3 21 throughout their education (IDEA, 2004). Core components of RtI that align with practices mandated by IDEA include early intervention services, alternative processes for identifying and documenting a disability, data collection, and the use of scientific ally based research for students with disabilities through the general curriculum (Cortiella, 2006; Mellard & Johnson, 2007). For students with disabilities, this includes access to the general education curriculum, which is required to be research based. This also the general curriculum. In addition, an individualized education program (IEP) should be created for each student with a disability (Cortiella, 2006). Accordin g to IDEA, IEPs are to be created by collaborative problem solving teams and should outline student goals, academic progress within the curriculum (Mellard & Johnson, 2007). N CLB, IDEA, and Parental Involvement To conduct an analysis of the relationship between NCLB, IDEA, and parental involvement, several sources were reviewed (Burns & Gibbons, 2008; Cortiella, 2006; Deno, 2003; Epstein, 2005; Esquivel, Ryan, & Bonner, 2008; I DEA, 2004; Landsverk, 2004; NCLB, 2002; Reschly et al., 2007; Sheridan & Kratochwill, 2008; U.S. Department of Education, 2003; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). The primary sources that guided this analysis were documents created to help parents understand the meaning and requirements of the aforementioned policies (Cortiella, 2006; Epstein,

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23 2005; Landsverk, 2004; U.S. Department of Education, 2003; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). Both NCLB and IDEA can impact the ways t hat parents interact with schools, especially parents of children receiving intervention. At the intersection of these evaluation of educational decisions (U.S. Departm ent of Education, 2003); the delivery of comprehensive information regarding the general education curriculum, the assessment process, and state standards (Landsverk, 2004; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005); ongoing home school communicatio n regarding student academic progress (Epstein, 2005; Landsverk, 2004; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005); collaboration during educational decision making; parent training (Landsverk, 2004; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005); and professional development regarding parental involvement in schools (Landsverk, 2004; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). All of the aforementioned requirements of NCLB and IDEA align well with RtI processes and will be explained more fu lly in the following sections. Early and Continued Involvement Requirements of NCLB and IDEA work to ensure that parents are involved in their the classroom curriculum educational program (Epstein, 2005; IDEA, 2004; NCLB, 2002). While not all parents will need to participate in a comprehensive evaluation for their child, they will be provided with useful in early as possible so that their involvement can begin early (U.S. Department of

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24 Education, 2003). In relation to RtI, this will include various types of information mic performance, including strengths and difficulties. In progress monitoring provide an opportunity for active parent engagement and partnering between family and school personnel much earlier in the development and 153). Although it is expected that all parents receive information regarding the general curriculum, assessment process es and state standards, not all parents will necessarily need to give consent for an evaluation. However, in the event that a child does not reasonable efforts to obtain the inform ed consent from the parent for an initial Therefore, parental involvement is maintained throughout the educational decision making process, especially for parents of stud ents receiving intervention. Delivery of Comprehensive Information As mentioned, NCLB requires that all parents be informed about the general Utilizing RtI processes, all parents will be able to receive information about the are being assessed (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). Furthermore, RtI processes enhance the ease with which assessment processes and expected proficiency levels can be explained. This is because much of the assessment information is tied to their based measurement); so, teaching them about the

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25 curriculum along with the assessment tools tied to it will likely enhance parental understanding of the curriculum assessment link (Landsverk, 2004). Doing so assists in joint monitoring (at school and home) of student academic progress as well as maximized student learning time b unique needs (Reschly et al., 2007). In addition, it is expected that the provision of such the home environment as well as at school (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). Parents are encouraged to participate, using the information gained from the 2007). Furthermore, curriculum based standards that the child is expected to meet can be easily explained in graphic format (Deno, 2003). Providing parents with a visual representation of expected standards in comparison to student achievement will likely assist them in bett Parents are also encouraged to remain involved throughout the evaluation of their parent participation (Wis consin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). In particular, within RtI processes, parents can be informed, contributing participants within the collaborative problem solving team. Therefore, they will be better able to help evaluate ional program since they have received basic information regarding the curriculum, the assessment process, and expected standards (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005).

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26 Ongoing Home School Communication NCLB and IDEA require that teachers comm unicate frequently and in 2005). NCLB states that the parent teacher compact should: address the importance of communication between teachers and parents on an ongoing basis through, at a minimum parent teacher reasonable access to staff (NCLB, 2002) NCLB requires that strong home school communication practices occur, in written and face to fac e formats. The home school link should be a strong one, as parents are supposed to receive comprehensive information about their child in a method and language that they can understand (Epstein, 2005). Furthermore, IDEA requires that ency must permit parents to inspect and review any education records relating to their children that are collected, maintained, or used by the agency under this part. The agency must comply with a request without unnecessary delay and before any meeting re RtI processes, this includes universal screening information, curriculum based measurements, and progress monitoring data. According to NCLB, schools must provide this information on a regular and continuous basis, so assessment should be responsibility does not stop at solely provid ing the information. School staff must be reasonably available to meet with parents to further clarify the information and to 2005). In terms of children who are receiving intensive intervention and may require an

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27 IEP, parents must be provided with such information before the IEP process begins (IDEA, 2004). Such requirements have several implications for RtI processes, including the ways in which schools communicate with pa rents and are informed about their Collaboration cilitate their involvement in educational decision making (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). In fact, NCLB and IDEA require that parents be afforded the opportunity to be a part of all educational decisions made about their child (Esquivel Ryan, & Bonner, 2008). have the opportunity to be a collaborative, participating member at any meeting explains that the school must make a satisfactory effort to involve the parents in educational decision making, which can include altering the meeting time, place, or method (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). If the parents do not wish to be involved, then schools must document their efforts to ensure that they attempted to involve parents as best as possible (NCLB, 2002). These regulations closely relate to the collaborative problem solving component of RtI processes. Within RtI, NCLB and IDEA regulations would require that parents be equal and participating members of the problem solving team for their child. While this includes the provision of information regarding the classroom curriculum and academic progress, it also includes the abi lity to evaluate and make suggestions regarding their

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28 provided to them by the school paired with their own experiences with the child at home, parents should be seen as a valua ble contributor within the RtI process. They should have the ability to be a part of the collaborative problem solving team in whatever capacity they prefer, from receiving information to participating in interventions to evaluating intervention effectiven ess (Burns & Gibbons, 2008). Parent Training and Professional Development Components of NCLB also have major implications for building knowledge and Public Instruction, 20 05). This includes both parent training and professional development activities for school based professionals in areas such as home school communication, strategies for increasing student achievement, and the importance of collaboration. These requiremen ts could have many implications within an RtI framework. Such practical applications include a variety of parent training opportunities to enhance understanding of the school environment and policies (Landsverk, 2004), allocating resources to increase pare ntal participation (Epstein, 2005), and training school staff to work more collaboratively during the problem solving process (Landsverk, 2004). In terms of parent training, NCLB indicates that this can come in the form of the school delivering information to parents as well as parents training other parents, as in the case of a parent advisory council (Landsverk, 2004; NCLB, 2002). The goal of such training is to ensure parental understanding of a variety of information, such as state standards, assessment methods, and how to enhance student academic achievement at home and to enhance home school collaboration so that intervention begins early and is ongoing (NCLB, 2002). Similarly, professional development activities are mandated for school

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29 staff by NCLB. This is required for many reasons: so that school based professionals they can learn how to reach out to parents as partners in education, and so that the importanc e of home school ties is emphasized (NCLB, 2002). Within an RtI framework, this centers around the notion of collaboration within a problem solving team. By enhancing the skills of participants from the school and home environments, it is expected that all parties will feel a sense of involvement and responsibility for the promote positive outcomes for the student (Sheridan & Kratochwill, 2008). Traditional Parent al Involvement Practices It is apparent from the analysis of NCLB and IDEA that, ideally, parents are education. However, this analysis depicted regulatory expectation s of ideal parent participation. Researchers suggest that parents may not want or are unable to be 2008; Goldstein, Strickland, Turnbull, & Curry, 1980; Hoover Demps ey & Sandler, 1995). However, over time, two roles have been emphasized within the parental involvement literature as important to influencing educational outcomes and enhancing home school collaboration. Those roles are communicator and decision maker (Ep stein, 2005; Gettinger & Guetschow, 1998). Home school communication and participation in educational decision making have been deemed consistently as important ways for Hagg erty, 1983; Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education, 2010; Christenson, 2010; Fish, 2008) and will be the foci of the following sections.

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30 The communicator role is described as parents participating in two way communication about the problem solving about the staff (Partnership Center for the Social Organization of Schools, n.d.). The decision maker role is described as participating in decision making for their child as well as becoming more involv ed at the systems level as a parent advocate (Gettinger & Guetschow, 1998). While both of these roles have implications for parents at the individual (their child) level and systems (school wide) level, only the roles that relate particularly to their chil d will be examined. The following sections describe actual, traditional practices of the aforementioned roles as examined by researchers. Traditional Home School Communication Practices An important aspect of parental involvement is home school communicati on, which aids in informed educational decision making (Sileo, Rude, & Luckner, 1988; Steere et al., 1990). Advantages of home school communication are improved stude nt transitions to the next grade level (Greenen, Powers, & Lopez Vasquez, 2001) and enhanced parent and student advocacy skills (Alper, Schloss, & Schloss, 1996). Additionally, Dyson (2001) summarized research that found that home school communication incr eases different types of direct parental involvement with the school. Furthermore, in their review of existing literature, Carlson and Christenson (2005) suggested that the most successful parent involvement programs were those that

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31 included successful met educational services. Christenson and Sheridan (2001) indicated that home school communication is addition, Mundsch enk and Foley (1994) concluded that it is necessary for all information to be shared with parents and teachers so that all parties will have enough information for decision making. A major goal of home consistent message s to families that the school will work with them in a collaborative academic progress, home school communication delivers other valuable messages to families: that schools want to work collaboratively with them, that parental input about the student is valued, and that mutual problem solving is in the best interest of the student (Weiss & Edwards 1992). Embracing such messages also allows for parents and teachers to trust and respect each other, which will likely reduce miscommunication (Mundschenk & Foley, 1994). Therefore, communication between the home and school environments leads to joint r ecognition of information about a student, which facilitates collaborative educational decision making (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001). By communicating successfully and on an ongoing basis, important information is shared with both parties regarding studen t needs and skill levels, as well as expectations for the student in the classroom and at home. In addition, when parents and teachers communicate

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32 learning at home. Furthermore, both parties learn to work collaboratively to best meet the needs of the student (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001). Due to the importance of home school communication in facilitating parental ve investigated typical home school communication practices. Despite the literature base to support parental involvement in schooling, it appears that schools generally do not communicate effectively with parents (Brantlinger, 1987; Childre & Chambers, 200 5; Harniss, Epstein, Bursuck, Nelson, & Jayanthi, 2001; Harry, 1992; McNamara, Telzrow, & DeLamatre, frequently comes in written format, including report cards, letters to parents, and psychoeducational evaluations (Waltman & Frisbie, 1994). However, as Harry (1992) reports, The very task of communicating with a parent about the learning difficulties of a child is by nature a high context activity; that is, an activity in w hich all aspects of the discourse are dependent on subtle, often imprecise personal and cultural information and therefore open to interpretation. To approach such a task with low content tools such as standardized tests of language, intelligence, or acade mic skills, or with a chain of communication that relies on the most low content of all communication tools the written word is to set the stage for failure (p. 113). Harry (1992) argued that communicating with parents through written text assumes that pa being assessed. Often times, parents are not informed of such details, so communicating in written format with little or no explanation is not helpful. In addition, t he academic progress information that is provided to parents often requires a high level of comprehension for understanding (Harry, 1992; Roit & Pfohl, 1984), contains too much technical jargon (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Harry, 1992), and is presented too

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33 Jayanthi, Bursuck, Epstein, & Cumblad, 1992, as cited in Harniss et al., 2001). report card grades (Waltman & Frisbie, 1994) as well as the results of psychoeducational evaluations (Harry, 1992; Roit & Pfohl, 1984). These forms of communication often lead to parental misunderstanding because of the variability in grading practices, the litt le amount of information that letter grades reveal about their scores) (Harry, 1992; Waltman & Frisbie, 1994). One reason for this miscommunication is that school profess ionals rely heavily on technical and educational jargon when reporting academic information about students (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Harry, 1992). While this is sometimes evident with report card grades, it is most apparent during the presentation of psyc hoeducational report results, which contain information such as standard scores, percentile ranks, and test descriptions (Meisels, Xue, Bickel, Nicholson, & Atkins Burnett, 2001). Parents often experience difficulty understanding educational terminology an d the assessment process, but report that they want to know more about how it works (Robinson, 1996). Interestingly, in one study, parents did not feel that the educators should have spoken in more comprehensible terms, but that the parents themselves shou ld have understood what was being described (Childre & Chambers, 2005). Providing academic information progress and engage in the decision making process, but also forces them to feel powerless and uninvolved in the school setting (Harry, 1992).

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34 progress until the situation has become considerably worse (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Jayant hi et al., 1992, as cited in Harniss et al., 2001). For example, this information may only be presented in a report card at the end of the grading period or in a report that EP) meeting. In one research study, parents expressed concern that they were unaware of educational programming decision (Jayanthi et al., 1992, as cited in Harniss et al ., 2001). They also were critical of the frequency of which they received information, as they noted that they did not receive academic progress information consistently throughout the school year (Jayanthi et al., 1992, as cited in Harniss et al., 2001). All in all, although schools appear to be making an effort to provide parents with adequate academic progress information, they often do so in the form of written communication, which parents may not understand for many reasons. They may have a low level o f literacy, may speak a primary language other than English, or may simply not understand how to interpret the information that the school sends home and its traditionally co than when the problem is first recognized. Traditional Participation of Parents in Educational Decision Making Schools also communicate with parents via face to face communication, i ncluding parent teacher meetings and more formal meetings for educational decision making. While difficulties with home school communication have been demonstrated in the literature, so have traditional patterns of parent participation in educational decis ion

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35 education: being informed of their rights and responsibilities, being informed of any g and receiving information during decision making meetings (Barton, Barton, Rycek, & Brulle, 1984). All of these roles are markedly passive. Despite the passage of earlier laws, such as PL 94 142 in the 1970s which mandated that parents be active particip ants in minimally in the process (Barton et al., 1984; Brantlinger, 1987; Gilliam & Coleman, 1981; Goldstein et al., 1980; Lustahus, Lusthaus, & Gibbs, 1981; Vaughn, Bos, Ha rrell, & Lasky, 1988; Yoshida, Fenton, Kaufman, & Maxwell, 1978). The majority of these expe ctations of their role i n the decision making process are often formulated at this time (Vaughn et al., 1988, p. 82). From these studies, researchers discovered that parents are involved minimally in the educational decision making process in that they ar e primarily passive recipients of information during the decision making process (Lusthaus et al., 1981), that they are not provided with enough information from the school to be an active participant in the process (Barton et al., 1984), and that they are left out of the educational decision making process until the time of the IEP meeting (Gilliam & Coleman, 1981; McNamara, Telzrow, & DeLamatre, 1999). There are many reasons for this low level of involvement during the decision making process, including l ack of parental knowledge about the process (Goldstein et al., 1980) and a high level of discomfort with the IEP conference

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36 situation (Brantlinger, 1 987). In addition families are given few opportunities to participate in the process. For example, parents indicated that the educational goals for their child had already been drafted prior to the decision making meetings and were made without their input (Sheehey, 2006). In fact, one study reported that 78% of parents were not contacted for their opinions or IEP conference (Mundschenk & Foley, 1994). IEP meetings are often closely linked to the information that is relayed through home school communication, which impacts the quality of parental involvement in education al decision making. When parents are primarily recipients of information and do not have ample opportunity to actively participate in the educational decision making process, the process becomes professional rather than student centered (Childre & Chamber less than complete information, viable choices are not likely, and special education professionals may simply be facilitating the agenda of those who wish to educate only certa situation is not considered during the process due to the lack of parental input, and the interests of the school professionals are carried out instead. Because parental infor feel lost and confused during the IEP process (Harry, 1992), which make s it difficult for parents to become actively involved in educational decision making. rceptions of the roles of parents also hinder parental involvement during educational decision making. In these studies, school professionals indicated that parents should only gather and present information about the student during the

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37 decision making pro cess (Goldstein et al., 1980; Lusthaus et al., 1981) and that parents do not have the necessary expertise to participate in the process (Gilliam & Coleman, 1981). Therefore, professionals would prefer that parents wait passively as decisions are made about Miller, & Griffin, 1986, p. 158). Thus, parental participation during educational decision making is ad versely impacted by negative perceptions of parental involvement held by school based professionals. Interestingly, parental reactions to this low level of participation in decision making during IEP meetings are varied (Center for Appropriate Dispute Reso lution in Special Education, 2010). Despite having a low level of participation in the IEP meetings themselves, some parents reported surprisingly positive reactions to the conferences (Fish, 2008; Goldstein et al., 1980) while others reported feeling hind ered by preset goals (Childre & Chambers, 2005) or feeling marginalized, isolated, and devalued (Cho & Gannotti, 2005; Lo, 2008). Researchers suggest that the positive reactions might be al., 1980, p. 284). Or, parents may have viewed any communication as an improvement over past experiences, or could have looked forward to any additional help their child would receive as a result of the IEP meeting (Fish, 2008; Goldstei n et al., 1980). In contrast, it is likely that the negative perceptions resulted from the practices discussed earlier. Overall, minimal parental involvement in educational decision making is due to several factors, including the receipt of unconstructive information regarding their child

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38 (Barton et al., 1984), the expectations of playing a passive role (Lusthaus et al., 1981), and IEP agendas that have already been determined by school staff without the help of parents (Gilliam & Coleman, 1981; Sheehey, 2 006). In addition, the perceptions of school staff regarding the roles of parents in educational decision making continue to promote a low level of parental involvement during the decision making process (Fish, 2008; Yoshida et al., 1978). However, despite play in educational decision making are varied (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Cho & Gannotti, 2005; Fish, 2008; Goldstein et al., 1980; Lo, 2008). In conclusion, what we have learned from research on parent involveme nt is that traditionally, parents are often passive recipients in the educational decision making process. Not only are they provided with information by the school that is difficult to understand or that is delivered too late for meaningful involvement, b ut also, they are expected by school professionals to give and receive information during decision making meetings rather than participate more actively. Despite this, their reactions to these experiences are sometimes positive, so it is important for futu re research to examine the nature of parent participation in educational decision making, including desired roles and responsibilities during the process. Rationale for Parental Involvement in RtI Processes While the majority of research has concluded that parents are often passive take on an active role in educational decision making (Lusthaus et al., 1981) and would ing (Gettinger & Guetschow, 1998). Such key places for parental involvement that align with RtI processes include improved home school communication as well as enhanced involvement in educational

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39 decision making, such as involvement in prevention/early int ervention and collaborative problem solving. Although researchers have not examined parental involvement in RtI processes in total, various studies have made conclusions separately about the involvement of parents in the aforementioned processes. The infor mation that parents receive throughout RtI processes (i.e., home school communication) differs from past practices. The content and meaningfulness of information collected through an RtI process is different than in traditional models, which should ideally education. As discussed, NCLB (2002) requires that parents are informed of the classroom curriculum, assessment process, and state standards that their child is expected to meet. The content of this information will assist parents in understanding what their child is being taught and what they are expected to learn by the end of the school year (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). In addition, the standards information will help pare nts to understand typical performance of students in their instruction their child is receiving, they will be better able to collaborate with teachers during decision makin g as well as assist their child in interventions at home (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). Therefore, RtI emphasizes a close link between previous model s and practices Traditionally, common complaints that parents have had regarding information Roit & Pfohl, 1984) and is delivered too late after a problem has wor sened (Childre &

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40 Chambers, 2005). But, the information delivered throughout an RtI process will hopefully alleviate such complaints. As opposed to cognitive and achievement data that is common for traditional psychoeducational evaluations, the information provided to performance in their academic environment (Gresham, 2007). Receiving curriculum based assessment information will help parents to understand what their ch ild is learning and how successfully they have mastered particular skills. This kind of information is easier for parents to understand and preferred by them because it is more ly, this information is delivered on a frequent and consistent basis so that parents are informed performance assess 2001) mimics the ways in which academic information collected through the RtI process specific targe ted skills over time. Parents reported that they had a good understanding of this type of assessment system. Furthermore, 79% indicated that it helped them to better understand the ways in which their child learns. In addition, 81% said they learned more a bout their child from this assessment system than they could have learned from a traditional report card. At the completion of the study, 62% of parents requested to receive this type of assessment information rather than a traditional report card (Meisels e t al., 2001). P roviding s uch information to parents may empower more parents to gain an understand ing of as well as

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41 become information givers and active participants during educational decision making (McNamara et al., 1999). These results would be vastly different than the patterns that research has revealed traditionally. In addition to differences in home school communication being different through an RtI process, points of active parental involvement throughout RtI also look different as compared with traditional practices. Numerous studies have indicated that parental involvement in prevention and early intervention activities assists in improving the academic and social emotional functioning of students (Bradshaw, Zmuda, Kellam & Ialongo, 2009; McWayne, Hampton, Fantuzzo, Cohen, & Sekino, 2004; Reid, Eddy, & Fetrow, 1999). Such involvement allows parents to learn effective teaching strategies at (Bradshaw et al., 2009; Dunst, Trivet te, & Hamby, 2007). Christenson, Hurley, Sheridan, & Fenstermacher (1997) suggested that a greater congruence between home and school environments enhances student success in school. Such congruence can be achieved thro ugh streamlining intervention activities in both environments and involv ing all parties in the process. Furthermore, results of one study suggested that the degree to which parents supported interventions at home was significantly associated with their chi goal attainment (McNamara et al., 1999). That is, instead of becoming involved in primarily passive activities, such as giving consent and receiving information about their child, parental involvement through an RtI process would emphasize active invo lvement in direct intervention activities. These activities could range from helping to plan the intervention, to implementing interventions at home, to evaluating intervention effectiveness (McNamara, Telzrow, & DeLamatre, 1999). All in all, parents desir e closer

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42 and the RtI process should help to facilitate such involvement. Political initiatives, such as NCLB, encourage that parents become meaningful partners with school Eagle, 2007). One such way to do this is through collaborative problem solving during RtI, which is a process that allows parents to participate meaningfully in planning, implementing, and evaluating educational s ervices that their child is receiving. McNamara and colleagues ( 1999) a key role in problem solving, not only as information givers, decision makers, and implementors of intervention plans, but also as potential advocates for the 1999, p. 345). Researchers have suggested that parental involvement with school based problem solving teams has led them to better understand the systemic nature of schools and demonstrate t heir own expertise as well as understand the expertise of teachers (Jowett & Baginsky, 1988). One example of the effectiveness of collaborative problem solving was demonstrated by McNamara, Telzrow, and DeLamatre (1999), who examined the success of Interv ention Based Assessment (IBA) in several Ohio schools. IBA, which includes multidisciplinary problem solving in conjunction with parents similarly to RtI, w as introduced for the purpose and nonhierarchi involved throughout all stages of the problem solving sequence. Overall, parents rated their experiences positively. And, the more they were involved throughout the IBA planning process, th e more positively they rated their experiences. In particular, early

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43 on the multidisciplinary team from the start rated the intervention plan as more adequate in address results indicated that intervention success was not necessarily related to parent level o f active involvement is most closely related to their level of satisfaction with IBA. In a dissertation study by Dowd Eagle (2007), parents and teachers rated the collaborative problem solving process as acceptable in meeting goals for students. Similar t o the previous study, the more that parents were involved in the planning process, the more they were satisfied with it, regardless of student outcomes. Parents also agreed that the process was effective and that they were satisfied with it (Dowd Eagle, 20 07). A study by Esquivel and colleagues (2008) also suggested that parents benefit when they are able to participate in problem solving about their child. Besides enjoying involvement in the process, parents indicated that they gained helpful information from participating in collaborative problem solving. Parents felt that receiving information Parents also suggested that they appreciated the use of data during decision m aking, especially when their child had been receiving a number of interventions or when there was a dispute between team members (Esquivel, Ryan, & Bonner, 2008). In conclusion, parents have indicated in a number of studies that they want to continue to pa rticipate in activities associated with collaborative problem solving and that they were satisfied with these opportunities (Dowd Eagle, 2007; Esquivel, Ryan, & Bonner, 2008; McNamara et

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44 al., 1999). De spite this, however, research also indicate s that paren tal involvement in collaborative problem solving processes has been minimal (Wilson, Gutkin, Hagen, & Oats, 1998). Overall, researchers have concluded that several core components of RtI have been successful in meeting the needs of parents: the consistent delivery of assessment throughout the decision making process, and participation in collaborative problem solving. Although researchers have not investigated the effe cts of all of these components together on parental involvement, it can be argued from examining various research studies that parents should be involved in these processes, which are core components of RtI models. All in all, home school communication and parental participation in educational decision Increased involvement and effective home school communication can have positive feelings toward the school findings, though, schools do not appear to be meeting the needs of many parents. Too progress and do not understand the information presented to them, and often times are passive participants throughout educational decision making for their child. These traditional practices seem to be in sharp contrast with the requirements of parental i nvolvement set forth by federal laws, such as NCLB and IDEA. With the recent implementation of RtI, which aligns with the federal regulations mentioned above, schools have the opportunity to re invent the

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45 ways in which they inform parents about their child in which parents are included in educational decision making. However, professionals will need to examine the results of educational research that detail strategies for more effective home school collaboration and understa nd the implications for RtI implementation in their schools. Critique of Existing Literature and Problem Statement RtI requires that parents receive functional, instructional data related to their nt and ongoing basis (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Gresham, 2007), which often comes in the format of curriculum based measurement and progress monitoring data (Deno, 2003). Given the recency of schools implementing RtI processes, research is not yet available on parental understanding of the academic information they receive about their child when a school is implementing RtI. However, parents have expressed difficulties understanding and using traditional sources of academic information (e.g., report cards, psych oeducational reports) and are not satisfied with the timing of when they receive this information (Barton et al., 1984; Waltman & Frisbie, 1994). Understanding the results of these past research studies can help to inform and guide researchers and practiti oners regarding how academic progress information should be delivered to parents in newly implemented RtI systems. It is especially critical to investigate this phenomenon since RtI is the new framework promoted in federal regulations and policy initiative s (Reschly et al., 2007) work sample system i n elementary school, which reflect s the way progress monitoring information can be delivered to parents. Results indicated that par ents found this

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46 also indicated they learned more about their child from this system than with traditional report cards, and that they would like to receive this type of information in the future (Meisels et al., 2001). While this is noteworthy, the parents in this study completed only one rating scale, which utilized a four point Likert scale, to assess their opinions about the effectiveness of the summary report, the eff ectiveness of the portfolio, and their overall opinions. Also, the survey was completed at only one point in time after the time, which information in the report was m ost helpful to them, or if the receipt of more instruction based information enhanced their participation in educational decision making. Other noteworthy research studies that examined home school communication practices also utilized one time parent surv eys (Barton et al., 1984; Harniss et al., 2001; Walt man & Frisbie, 1994). Thus, research is needed to gain insight into parental understanding of information received, particularly through an RtI process, as this will inform school professionals of ways to enhance home school communication practices within this new service delivery framework. In terms of parental participation in educational decision making, while the majority of research about educational decision making has centered around parental partic ipation during the IEP conference (Gilliam & Coleman, 1981; Goldstein et al., 1980; Lusthaus et al., 1981; Vaughn et al., 1988), research on parental participation in collaborative problem solving is emerging. This most closely resembles educational decisi on making during an RtI process. Studies by McNamara and colleagues (1999), Dowd Eagle (2007), and Esquivel and colleagues (2008) have examined parental

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47 participation in collaborative problem solving. And, while the results of these studies are noteworthy, further research in this area is still needed. Two of the studies (Esquivel, Ryan, & Bonner, 2008; McNamara et al., 1999) utilized surveys to obtain general information about parental opinions while the other used standardized rating scales (Dowd Eagle, 2 007). McNamara and colleagues (1999) used a thirteen item, Likert scale survey that examined consumer satisfaction with the problem solving process. Dowd Eagle (2007) investigated similar areas by extracting particular scores from three different rating sc ales. The areas examined included effectiveness, acceptability, and satisfaction as rated by parents. While valuable information was gained from these studies, researchers examined general perceptions, such a level of satisfaction or enjoyment with the pro cess, and did not gather information regarding the ways in which parents actually participated during educational decision making. Furthermore, the researchers collected this i nformation at one point in time, after the completion of the problem solving pro cess. It is important for future studies to examine parental participation through different activities and stages in an RtI process, and not just during one meeting. In another study, Esquivel and colleagues (2008) mailed two qualitative surveys containin g prompts about parental experiences with educational decision making, such enough, 31% of parents wrote about their experiences with an IEP conference, which is a formal meeting at one point in time, often focused on a placement decision (Esquivel, Ryan, & Bonner, 2008). The researchers concluded that parents enjoyed participating in problem solving about their child and appreciated collaborative input from all parties.

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48 Al though the researchers sought the opinions of experienced parents on a special education advisory council using a qualitative methodology, their measure was a written survey with limited space, which could have hindered full parental input. In addition, th e surveys only discussed one meeting where parents were present, and many parents responded about the IEP conference, which is traditionally where decisions occur after a problem solving process has taken place. Furthermore, parents did not describe the wa ys in which they participated during educational decision making. McNamara and colleagues (1999) suggested that it is important for future researchers to further examine the actual activities and contributions of parents during collaborative problem solvin g rather than just their membership status. Researchers have suggested that parents typically display passive participation during educational decision making (Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education, 2010) and that many want to take on more direct roles during educational decision making about their child (Gettinger & Guetschow, 1998; Lusthaus et al., 1981). G aining a deeper understanding about these issues will aid in facilitating meaningful parental involvement throughout education al decision making in RtI processes. Overall, these studies have examined a breadth of parental involvement roles using quantitative methodology, but none have examined these roles or experiences in the depth that can be gleaned from qualitative research ( Patton, 2002). Therefore, examining this phenomenon by using a qualitative methodology and over a longer period of time will be helpful in achieving greater understanding of parental experiences.

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49 This research study used a qualitative methodology to examin e parental understanding of and involvement in a Response to Intervention (RtI) process. More specifically, this study examined home school communication practices with parents and parental participation in educational decision making as part of an RtI pro cess in an elementary school. The primary research questions that guided the study were: 1. How do parents of children receiving intervention develop an understanding of academic progress information during an RtI process? 2. How do parents of children receiving intervention participate in educational decision making during an RtI process?

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50 CHAPTER 2 METHODS AND PROCEDURES This chapter outlines the research methodology and procedures that were used for this study. This includes information about the nature of th e study, a description of the sett ing and participants, and the data collection procedures and analysis methods. In addition, methodological issues are discussed and a researcher subjectivity statement is provided. Nature of the Research Study This qualita tive research study invest igate d parental understanding of and involvement in an elementary school RtI process. More specifically, this study examined home school communication practices with parents and parental participation in educational decis ion mak ing in a school that implemented RtI. The primary research qu estions that guided the study were : 1. How do parents of children receiving intervention develop an understanding of academic progress information during an RtI process? 2. How do parents of children r eceiving intervention participate in educational decision making during an RtI process? Qualitative methodology was used to investigate the s e research question s experien ces, how they construct their worlds, and what meaning they attribute to their persp in understanding the meaning people have constructed, that is, how they make sense of r

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51 than examining particular variables at a time, qualitative research is focused on the ways in which the parts work together as a whole, in order to gain a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon (Merriam, 2009). In this case, there is a need to g ain a deeper understanding about home school communication practices in an RtI model, parental participatio n in decision making, and parent experiences and perspectives as they engage with school personnel in the RtI process. Although this will be discuss ed in more detail throughout the following section, a brief description of the methods and procedures for this study is provided The data collection methods for this qualitative study included individual interviews, observations, and document review. Data collection began in February 2011 with an observation of the beginning of the year S tudent S uccess T eam (SST) meeting for first grade. Then, the researcher met with the first grade teaching team (i.e., three teachers) to begin the recruitment process with parents. Primary participants included eight parents of first grade students who were receiving intervention in reading and/or math and one parent who was identified as a rich source of information teacher. These partic ipants were interviewed around critical school dates (e.g., release of report cards, parent teacher c on ferences), beginning in April 2011 and continuing until the end of the summer literacy program. Seven parents were interviewed one time and two parents w ere interviewed twice since their child attended the summer literacy program. The three teachers were interviewed once. In addition, other school personnel who were involved with the student and parents during an RtI process were interviewed one time at th e end of the school year. The researcher also conducted observations. The se observations occurred during two grade level Student Success Team (SST)

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52 meeti ngs at the school in February 2011 and April 2011. The researcher also observed one parent team decisio n making meeting in May 2011. The topics of this meeting included summer literacy program, and retention. Data analysis occurred continuously in conjunction with data collection so that researc her immersion with the data took place. Data were analyzed until no new themes emerged. Please see Table 2.1 for the data collection and analysis schedule for this study The purpose of the interviews, observations, and document s included examining the kin progress, what kinds of informati on we re most helpful for parents, and the link between the information received and educational decision making in RtI. The purpose of these pro involving parents, their rationale for presenting information in the ways they do, and w hat they wanted to accomplish during data pres entation and decision making were examined. The focus of interviews with other school personnel addressed their goals for communicating with parents, their framework for presenting data to parents and involving them in decision making, and their perceptions about roles during the RtI process. This study exhibited the six characteristics of qualitative research as de fined by Bogdan and Biklen (2007 ). These criteria are: 1) the research is carried out in natural s ettings, 2) the researcher gathers the data directly, 3) the research provides rich narrative descriptions, 4) the research is concerned with process, 5) the data are

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53 analyzed inductively, and 6) the perspectives of the participant are important. In other words, the researcher conducts the study within a naturalistic setting because they believe that behavior is observed most naturally in its original context (Patton, 2002). Furthermore, the data that the researcher collected on site were in the form of wor ds, as direct quotations from participants help to illustrate the claims (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007 ). leads to a rich portrayal of data that becomes more specific as the analysis process advances (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007 ). Yielding a rich description about process was particularly relevant for this study, as parental involvement within an RtI process has no t yet been retations (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007 ). Description of Setting A university affiliated developmental research public school in north central Florida (DRS) was the setting for this study. DRS is a public school that serves 1155 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. A s a laboratory school, DRS is responsible for developing innovative e ducational solutions and providing that information to other school districts Therefore, there is a strong emphasis placed on educational research. Furthermore, DRS seeks to enroll a stu dent population that is representative of the state of Florida in terms of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. This allows for research with a strong focus in working with diverse populations.

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54 In addition to their dedication to innovative researc h, DRS was also chosen for the site of this study because of their history of RtI implementation. The school began implementing RtI in the 2006 2007 school year with the use of tiered intervention, progress monitoring, and data based decision making in K 2 reading instruction. RtI processes were implemented in subsequent years to include reading in K 5, along with math and school wide behavior systems. In addition to the use of a school improvement proces s to implement RtI over a five y ear period, DRS staff has initiated a series of Research in Action workshops to share data and information about the essential components of RtI implementation, as well as the benefits and challenges of RtI. These workshops have been provided to hundreds of teachers and admini strators representing school districts in north central Florida over the past three years. Description of Participants Participants in this study included nine parents of first grade students, three teachers that comprise the first grade teaching team, and three instructional support personnel. Eight of the parents had a student who was receiving intervention services in reading and/or math One parent, whose child was not receiving intervention services, was selected b ecause the teacher nominated her as a source of rich information due to her experiences at DRS Demographic information about the parent participants can be found in Table 2.2 Selection of the first grade level was based on the amount of academic progress information and description of inter vention services provided during first grade. The RtI process focuses on early prevention and intervention, thus first grade includes the collection of extensive curriculum based and progress m onitoring data for students.

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55 A cademic difficulties identified a t the middle and end of first grade often indicate a need for more intensive intervention services in reading and math. In addition to parents, the teachers of the aforementioned students were primary informants for the study. The first grade team, which consis ts of three teachers, represented a range of professional experiences. See Table 2.3 for teacher demographic information. Also, due to the nature of the RtI process and the different circumstances around student academic needs, as well as parent and teacher interactions, other support personnel (i.e., curriculum coordinator, instructional support teacher, teacher on special assignment) were included as infor mants in the study. It was expect ed that support personnel would be able to provide rich, descr iptive information due to interactions with the student through intervention, as well as the teachers and parents throughout the school year. In addition, these support personnel typically provide supplementary data regarding student academic progress to p aren t s during the RtI process and have distinct perspectives regarding parental participation in decision making. Therefore, additional information was examined regarding how and what the problem solving team communicat es to the parents. See Table 2.4 for demographic information about the support personnel. Thus, the researcher collected information by following nine parents from the release of midyear data to the end of the summer literacy program as the RtI process proceeded for their child who was experi encing difficulties in reading and/or math. While specific learning needs and the circumstances differed for each o f the nine students, the school established process was followed, and thus parent understanding of relevant

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56 academic progress information and their participation in educational decision making were explored. Merriam (2009) noted that nonprobability sampling is the most common participant sampling approach in qualitative research and it was utilized in this study. This represents purposeful samp ling, or selecting a small number of participants, but exploring the research questions in great depth (Patton, 2002). Nonprobability sampling is most common when qualitative researchers are seeking to discover what is occurring, as well as the practical i is based on the assumption that the investigator wants to discover, understand, and (Merriam, 2009, p. 77). Furthermore, as recommended by Mer riam (2009), researchers select participants based on the goal and purpose of the research study by setting particular selection criteria. Because the goal of this study was to understand parent experiences in an RtI proce ss, the selection criteria included: 1) being a parent of a first grade student at DRS who is receiving academic intervention, and 2) being nominated by a first grade teacher who expected them to share rich information about their perceptions and experienc es It was presumed that the most woul d be learned from parents who m et these criteria. After these selection criteria were met for the primary teacher and other members of the decision making team were named as secondary participants due to their involvement with the parents throughout the RtI process. Because thes e school professionals worked with the students and parents on a ongoing

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57 basis, it was also assumed that the experiences during the RtI process. There are multiple types of nonprobability sampling, including typical sampling and snowball sampling, aspects of which were used to select the sample for this stud y. In potential participants, the researcher asked the first grade teachers t o nominate parents in their classroom who met the aforementioned criteria. Then, the researcher sent out an informational letter about the study to all parents that the teachers nominated. The researcher then followed up with individual phone calls to ask if the nominated parents w ere willing to participate in this study Fifteen parents were contacted by the researcher and nine parents indicated that they were willing to participate Then, an initial interview was scheduled with each parent By utilizing p arents who had a child receiving intervention services and who receive d a wealth of information regarding their representation of parental experiences in an RtI process, both i n terms of understanding the information and participating in decision making. Data Collection Procedures Data collection primarily occurred through the use of interviews, observations, and document review. Interview meetings were scheduled with each parti cipant, and observations were conducted durin g predetermined parent team and systems level meeting times. All participants were informed of the purpose and components of the research study in the letter of consent and all participants signed the letter of consent (Appendix A, Letters of Informed Consent). Demographic information was also collected

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58 from all of the participants. Participants were asked to complete the demographic information form (Appendix B, Demographic Information Forms) after the initial i nterview. The interview guides were tailored to participants based on their role during the RtI process (Appendix C, Interview Guides). Interviews Interviews with participants were the primary means of data collection in this study. Patton (2002) indicated that the purpose of interviews is to find out things from find out what is in and 341). Furthermore, this conversation between the interviewer and interviewee is a purposeful one, or one in which the interviewer is seeking out information from the in terviewee (Bogdan & B iklen, 2007 ). An interview guide was utilized to focus the content of each interview (Appendix C). Topics that were addressed included the kinds what information is most helpful for parents, and the link between the information received and educational decision making. In addition, topics addressed during teacher interviews included their goals for involving parents, their rationale for presenting information in the ways t hey do, and what they hope to accomplish during data presentation and decision making. The successive interview guides, including those with parents, teachers, and support personnel, were developed from emerging themes and unanswered questions out of the i nitial set of interviews and observations. These value they place on particular kinds of information, and their expectations for next steps.

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59 In addition, interviews with t eachers and support personnel addressed their goals for communicating with parents, their framework for presenting data to parents and involving them in decision making, and their perceptions about roles throughout the process. The use of an interview prot ocol allows for a semi structured approach to interviewing. That is, although particul ar pre determined topics are initiated, this approach is more flexible so that the interviewer can prompt or probe for further detail when necessary (Patton, 2002). There fore, the approach is both structured (in the topics selected) and flexible (in the amount of detail that the interviewer seeks out based on the goal of the question). In addition, utilizing this type of interview meets three other goals: 1) The interview protocol is available for future inspection, 2) the interview is focused for the sake of time efficiency, and 3) analysis is facilitated by making responses easier to find and compare across par ticipants (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007 ; Patton, 2002). Thus, collect in g data using this approach help s to facilitate a richer understanding of parent, teacher, and support personnel perspectives, yet offers a reasonable balance between structure and flexibility to aid in understanding their perspectives on a meaningful lev el. This study included a series of interviews with parents, teachers and support personnel over a 5 month period. Each interview lasted approximately 30 to 90 minutes and was audiotaped s o that the conversations were preserved for continuous analysis. In addition, the interviewer took detailed field notes during the interviews. The purpose of the notes was not to write the conversation verbatim, but to assist the interviewer in formulating prompts or additional questions for the current interview, and to provide

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60 relevant insights into future interview protocols (Patton, 2002). Furthermore, note taking assists in practical aspects of data analysis, such as serving as a back up in the event that the tape recorder fails, helping to locate important quotations and providing nonverbal feedback to the participant about what is notable (Patton, 2002). As described earlier, parents were the primary informants in this study as the goal was to examine their perceptions and experiences throughout the RtI process. Ho wever, teachers and other support personnel, such as instructional support teachers and other support staff, were also participants in this study. There are limitations to collecting data through interviewing techniques. Most notably, as Patton (2002) desc because in depth interviewing opens up what is inside people qualitative inquiry may That is, due to the personal nature of the interview process, some participants may not feel comfortable and may react negatively to the interviewer in a variety of ways, from not discussing a topic or changing their answers so that they feel protected (Hatch, proposed study occurred in a comfortable and familiar place for the participants (i.e., on the school campus). Rapport was also established with the participants before asking questions from the interview protocol so that participants felt comfortable in the interviewing situation (Hatch, 2007). In addition, the interviewer utilized active listenin g skills so that the participants feel understood and important, and open ended questions were be used so e re heard (Hatch, 2007; Patton, 2002).

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61 Observations Merriam (2009) emphasized the importance of interweaving interviews and observations as primary types of qualitative data collection. These two methods are perceptions of the world, observations occur in the natural setting itself and represent a direct and personal encounter with the phenomenon being investigated (Merriam, 2009). In fact, Patton (2002) indicated that, without personally experiencing a phenomenon and relying merely on interview data, it is difficult to fully understand the exper ience. Observations have other benefits too, including allowing the researcher to be open and inductive in the new setting, uncovering information that participants may be unaware of or have not paid attention to, and discovering information that participa nts may not want to discuss in an interview (Patton, 2002). Researchers can also use their unique firsthand experience when interpreting the observations, rather than relying on secondhand report of the experience (Merriam, 2009) To gain this firsthand ex perience, the researcher had the opportunity to observe two grade level SST meetings and one parent team meeting that was held to discuss academic issues and retention at the end of the school year. Although observations are often used as a source to help triangulate and confirm existing data (Merriam, 2009), there are limitations to conducting obser vations. Bogdan and Biklen (2007 ) and Patton (2002) summarized these limitations, which include selective perception of data by the researcher, difficulty obse rving particular behaviors, and participants feeling intruded upon or watched, which may change their typical behavior. However, to combat these limitations, observation can be used a research tool, rather than in everyday living, meaning that the observer trains his or her self to

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62 learn to pay attention, to write descriptively, to practice recording field notes, and to 261). Document review T he third data collection strategy that was employed in this study was review of relevant documents. Merriam (2009) indicated that, in fact, document review is not much different from interviews and observations, because what is said in the documents is oft en comparable to what is seen and heard in fieldwork. In fact, reviewing these documents can provide a closer look at what is not revealed in observations and interviews (Patton, 2002). As in interviews and observations, the data gathered from an furnish descriptive information, verify emerging hypotheses, advance new categories and hypotheses, offer historical understanding, track change and incorporating docum ents as sources of data. First, documents are easily accessible to the researcher. Unlike interviews and observations, documents are sources of data that can be collected unobtrusively in most settings and in a brief amount of time. Also, the researcher ca n collect documents without necessary cooperation from other people information that would take an investigator enormous time and effort to gather 155). Finally, documentary material is stable in that the presence of the researcher does not change what is being said or done. That is, documents provide a more objective source of data for qualitative research (Merriam, 2009).

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63 The t ypes of documents in cluded as sources of data in this study were the curriculum based measurement (CBM) sheet and field notes These CBM sheets were delivered to parents four times a year and detailed th In addition, included on the back of the CBM sheet was an explanation of the assessments that students were administered that year. This provided brief descriptions about what each assessment was measuring as well as simple definitions of the areas of reading. Finally, the researcher took notes during grade level SST meetings and the parent team meeting There are limitations to document review. Some data may be incomplete or incompatible for use in a research study. Or, the documents may be in a format that is not helpful to the researcher. Fin ally, researchers may experience difficulty determining as Merriam (2009) indicated, a document is deemed valuable if it contains insight that may be pertinent to the resea rch questions and if it can be obtained in a logical manner. Based on these statements, the documents in this study were considered of value for data collection and analysis. Data Analysis Data analysis occurred throughout the data collection process, whic h took place dur ing the spring semester and the summer literacy program of the 2010 2011 school year. This continual analysis process is due to the fact that qualitative analysis is dynamic and emergent, so it should continue as data are still being collec ted (Merriam, 2009). Because this study examined a topic that has not yet been investigated by pre vious researchers, the purpose wa s to conduct a descriptive study about parental experiences in understanding information and participating during educational decision

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64 making during an RtI process. The stages of data analysis will be described in the following section. Patton (2002) indicated that the first step of dat a analysis, after transcribing interviews verbatim, is to develop a coding scheme. This is fur ther described as content were identified that have the potential to relate to the research question and can be understood on its own without additional context (Merriam, 2009). In this study, notes were made in the margins of the transcripts and observation notes to identify such codes. All of these potential codes were typed. Then, similar notes were organized into a single system, and a code label was given for that topic. When possible, notes relating to the same code were categorized using similar language to facilitate the so rting process. In this study, the first reading was done to develop the coded categories, and subsequent readings were conducted to formalize the coding systematically (Merriam, 2009; Patton, 2002). During the next stage of data analysis, the task is to m ove from concrete description of observable data to a somewhat more abstract the data, but to some extent they al so interpret the data (Merriam, 2009, p. 188). That is, these coded categories were further grouped on a more abstract level, as themes emerged naturally from the categorized codes. This process continued throughout immersion of the data until no new cat egories or themes were discovered,

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65 constantly comparing the data throughout the initial coding and thematic understanding levels of analysis ensures that all substantive data are revealed (Merriam, 2009). Methodological Issues Although methodological issues can arise when conducting any type of research, steps were taken to ensure th a t the data used in this study were valid and reliable source s of information. The primary techniques incorporated in this study to address methodological issues include d triangulating data, constantly comparing the data, utilizing a researcher journal, an d implementing member checks. The techniques will further be explained in the following section. Researchers have distinguished four methods for triangulating data, all of which ation, investigator triangulation, theory triangulation, and methodological triangulation (Merriam, 2009; Patton, 2002). In this study, data triangulation and methodological triangulation were used. Data triangulation refers to using a variety of data sour ces in a study (Merriam, 2009; Patton, 2002). In this study, the experiences of parents were examined by including parents, teachers, and support personnel as key sources of information. In addition, methodological triangulation, which is using multiple m e thods to study a phenomenon, was also utilized (Merriam, 2009; Patton, 2002). The multiple methods were individual interviews with all study participants (i.e., parents, teachers, and support personnel) as well as observations during educational decision m aking meetings in which these participants are present and review of relevant documents. ethod to

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66 obtain the data (Patton, 2002). Furthermore, the interconnectedness of interviews and observations were discussed earlier. By utilizing interviews and observations throughout the study, the limitations of one method can be accounted for by the str engths of the complementary method (Patton, 2002). Another technique that was used in this study to enhance the credibility of the findings was long term observation to see or hear the same things over and o ver again, and no new information surfaces as term observation of a phenomenon allows for researcher immersion with the data over time until no new information is revealed (Patton, 2002). Utiliz ing this technique allows for con stant interaction with the data, usi ng multiple sources and methods throughout the analysis until no more unique information is discovered. In this study, the researcher was immersed in the data from the midyear SST meeting and continued to be immersed through interviews, observations, and document review over a five month period to explore preliminary themes and interpretations, to think critically about the context of the study as well as more theoretical issues, and to refine future interview protcols (Merriam, 2009). Because the analysis process was ongoing for several months, the researcher was able to keep track of emerging themes from the data in a structured way. In addition, it facilitated the process of checking that no new themes had emerged after all of the data were analyzed together. The researcher was also able to re words and the relationship of the emerging themes to broader theoretical issues. Furthermore,

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67 memos from the researcher journal aided in tailoring the initial and follow up interview protocols. Finally, member checks were integrate d into the methodology of this study. the participants so that they can provide their In this study, initial interpretations were shared with three parents and three teachers. The researcher utilized member checks to ensure th e accuracy of the findings, but also to seek out feedback from the participants regarding the interpretation (Hatch, 2007; Merriam, 2009; Patton, 2002). Participants were invited to share their opinions and reactions to the data interpretation, as qualitat ive data collection and analysis is often a coconstructive (Hatch, 2007, p. 188). Researcher Subjectivity Statement Another way to enhance the reliability and valid ity of the study findings is to understand the experiences and assumptions of the researcher conducting the study (Hatch, 2007; Merriam, 2009). As the primary data collector for this study, it is important to understand information that as a researcher, I have unique perspectives and experiences related to the topic of this study. I entered into the school psychology program at the University of Florida in the fall of 2007, directly after graduating with my B.A. in psychology and comparative religion from Miami University in Ohio. I earned my M.Ed. in school psychology in 2010 during the pursuit of my Ph.D. in school psychology. While I had worked with children in

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68 various ways I had never been employed in a school setting before entering graduate school I volunteered throughout college as a tutor for kindergarten and fifth grade students struggling in reading, math, and science. I also worked for several summers as a counselor at a therapeutic summer day camp for children with Emotional and Behavioral Diso rders (EBD). But when I entered into my graduate program, I was new to the intricate inner workings of school systems. Throughout my time at UF, I have gained practicum experience at DRS for two years as well as in two ot her counties surrounding Gainesvil le, Florida. Although I learned a great deal of information and gained practical skills from all of these placements, each was vastly different from the next, yet all have influenced the ways I conceptualize school psychological services as well as parenta l involvement roles. Working at DRS as a practicum studen t opened my eyes to a more innovative school system. Not only does DRS place a heavy emphasis on learning from research and has a majority of teachers with advanced degrees, but also school staff hav e been in the process of implementing RtI for a number of years. Furthermore, they have implemented a number of opportunities for parental involvement and the parents at DRS appear to be more involved in their chil othe r school sites These characteristics are impo rtant to note because through experiences at DRS I have been able to gain a greater understanding of the effectiveness of RtI processes and have personally witnessed the positive outcom es of parental involveme nt. For example, during my third year, I consulted with a teacher and

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69 difficultie s, and think of it as one of my most successful cases to date. This was due to between the home and school environments since the teacher and parent were implementing simi lar interventions (Sheridan & Kratochwill, 2008). I understand that not enlightened me about the powerful benefits of parental involvement. Furthermore, in terms of RtI implem entation at DRS responding to a new intervention, as well as the advantages of collaborative problem solving between parents, teachers, and other school professionals. Contrasting these experiences with some the research to practice gap that is all too common in school s today. These experiences enhanced my desire to conduct research that will inform effective practices, especially in terms of facilita

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70 Table 2 1 Data collection and analysis schedule Date Task February 2011 Attended mid year SST meeting Reviewed student CBM data March 2011 Recruited 9 parents, 3 teachers, and 3 supp ort staff as participants. April 2011 Conducted initial interviews with parents. Attended the end of year SST meeting. Transcribed parent interviews. Began researcher journal. Began analysis of interviews. May 2011 Conducted teacher interviews. Attended one formal decision making meeting with parent present Transcribed teacher interviews and observation notes from meeting s Analyzed parent and teacher interviews together. June 2011 Conducted interviews with school support personnel. Transcribed suppor t personnel interviews. Continued to analyze data from all of the participants together. July 2011 Conducted follow up interviews with parent s whose child participated in the summer literacy program. Transcribed follow up parent interviews. Continued ongo ing data analysis. August 2011 Finished interviews wit h school support personnel Finished interview transcriptions. September 2011 February 2012 Continued data analysis. March 2012 Shared preliminary findings with participants for member checking.

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71 Table 2 2 Parent demographic information Participant Age Gender Race/Ethnicity Level of Education Services A 41 Female Caucasian Graduate/professional school Tier 2 in reading B 53 Female Caucasian College Tier 2 in reading C 29 F emale Caucasian College Tier 2 in reading, Tier 2 in behavior D 40 Female Caucasian College No intervention services E 41 Female Caucasian Graduate/professional school Tier 2 in reading F 34 Female Caucasian College Tier 2 in reading G 42 Female Caucas ian Graduate/professional school Tier 2 in reading H 45 Female Caucasian Graduate/professional school Tiers 2 & 3 in reading and math I 31 Female African American Graduate/professional school Tiers 2 & 3 in reading

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72 Table 2 3 Teacher demographic inf ormation Participant Age Gender Race/ Ethnicity Years teaching Years at DRS Years involved with RtI 1 2 3 26 50 56 Female Female Female Caucasian Caucasian Caucasian 2 28 30+ 2 25 14 2 5 5

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73 Table 2 4 Support personnel demographic inf ormation Participant Age Gender Race/ Ethnicity Years in education Years at DRS Years involved with RtI Involvement with RtI process 1 34 Female Hispanic 13 8 5 Serve as elementary Reading Coach. Lead the RtI Leadership team. Lead grade level SST meetings Coordinate RtI efforts in elementary school. 2 30 Female Caucasian 8 8 4 Classroom teacher providing Tier 2 intervention. Instructional support teacher in grades 4 & 5 providing Tier 3 reading and math intervention. Teacher on special assignment responsible for elementary school administration and participation on RTI leadership team. 3 41 Female Caucasian 20 3 3 Instructional support teacher for grades K 2 providing Tier 3 reading and math intervention.

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74 CHAPTER 3 RESULTS DRS was the setting fo r this study. DRS is a public school that serves 1155 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Approximately 350 students are enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade. The school began implementing RtI in the 2006 2007 school year with the use of tiered intervention, progress monitoring, and d ata based decision making in reading instruction in kindergarten through second grade RtI processes were implemented in subsequent years to include reading in third through fifth grade along with math an d school wide behavior systems. This study was understanding of and participation in the RtI process at DRS through the use of interviews, observations, and document review. More specificall y, this study examined the ways in which parents as the ways in which parents participated in educational decision making for their children. In addition, the roles that t eachers and other support personnel at the school making were explored. Eight parents of first grade students receiving intervention in reading and/or mathematics and one parent who was identif ied as a rich source of information were the primary participants in this study. In addition, the f irst grade teaching team was asked to participate. Other members of school staff (i.e., an instructional support teacher the curriculum coordinator, and a t eacher on administrative assignment) were also asked to participate based on their level of in volvement with the parents throu ghout the RtI process. Qualitative methodology was used to gain a deeper understanding about home school communication practices i n an RtI model, parental participation in

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75 decision making, and parent experiences and perspectives as they engage with school personnel during the RtI process. The results of this study are organized around the two ma jor research questions, which a re: 1) H ow do parents of students receiving intervention develop a n understanding of academic progress information during at RtI process ? ; and 2) How do parents of children receiving intervention participate in educational decision making during an RtI process ? An alysis of the data related to specific themes and q uotes from parents, teachers, and school support personnel will be provided. Data analysis produced four major themes regarding the ways in which parents mic progress information: 1) diverse in decisio n making for their children, three interactive and connected themes were revealed: 1) needs; 2) experiences wit hi n the parent teacher dyad; and 3 ) interacting with existing components of the school system. The following chapter provides a detailed discussion about each of these themes. Pro gress Information In this secti on, the four major themes regarding the ways in which parents develop e d discussed. The four them es are: diverse and numerous opportunities to make sense of the data; reliance on joint examination of the data; establishing a close, trusting

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76 academic progress. Please see the following figure for a visual display of the themes represented in the first research question.

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77 Figure 3 1 How do parents of children receiving intervention develop an understanding of academic progress information during an RtI proce ss? Diverse and numerous opportunities to make sense of Reliance on joint examination of the data Establishing a close, trusting relationship teacher child Patterns of formal and informal communication Focus on the assessment intervention link During direct contact with teacher With other sources of social support Trust in teacher judg ment about child Teacher as a source of emotional support Use data in conjunction with observations Present a balanced view o f their progress Emotional ties to the data Parents want to be informed about struggles as early as possible Parents want t o have a strong understanding about the skills measured by the CBM sheet Parents want to understand how skills on the CBM sheet interact Parents want to know how to help their child at home Parents want their concerns to be heard

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78 Diverse and Numerous Opportunities to Make Sense of the Data This theme emerged from the data as parents consistently discussed developing ormational sources and interacting directly with qualified professionals to help them make sense of the data and better understand their hievement and conversations often centered on the assessment intervention link. At DRS, parent s were afforded a variety of opportunities to interact with teachers and other school staff. This included formal interactions, such as during parent teacher conferences and through the curriculum based measurement (CBM) sheet, as well as informal interact ions, such as phone calls, emails, and seeing each other before and after school. Through these interactions, parents were able to gain a well rounded understanding about how their child was progressing in school and what they could do to help at home. The se interactions also allowed them to ask questions, express concerns, and understand what was happening in the classroom. Patterns of Formal and Informal Communication DRS has a formal, school wide protocol for establishing initial parent contact, which a ll teachers in this study followed. As Teacher 1 test every nine weeks and then after the first assessment time is when we bring the time formal based measurement (CB M) based assessments

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79 in all areas of reading and in their overall math achievement. The assessment tool s used to measure progress are grade level benchmarks during each assessment period throughout the year are also denoted on the CBM sheet. On the back of the CBM sheet, parents are given a brief description about what each area of reading means. W hen asked about parent teacher conferen ces, p arents generally presented clear descriptions of the conference protocol, as Parent D described: those assessments done, we discuss those. And sort of their progress, again quite a shift, a drop, or maybe just staying the same and you wonder why and so the teachers have always been good at explaining how the summer relates to that. The different skill levels that are expected in the next grade if they progress, different expectations also. Parent H Teacher 3 certainly clarifies a lot of it as well to kind of give us an idea of like where he is and where we want to get him to and kind of what her goals are and how she -All parents in this study attended the initial parent conference, and it was obvious that they had a understanding of the goals of this meeting. Similarly, regardless of the teacher whose class their child was in, paren ts described the conference outline in remarkably similar ways. Through following the school wide proto col the first grade teaching team created a well defined agenda for the conference situation that the parents understood and could recall. Another major eleme nt of the conference situation wa s the use of the CBM sheet (Appendix D, Sample CBM Sheet). Teac hers suggested that the CBM sheet is used as

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80 the primary frame of reference during the conference when describing to parents their Teacher 3 indicated: I do use our CBM form as my frame of reference because that says all the info ical, and with that, there are many different kinds of tests, but I feel what the expectations were and where their child scored withi n that realm ere they need to go. That been really helpful As Teacher 3 suggested, teachers feel that the use of the CBM sheet helps to streamline communication with parents by clearly describing grade level expectation s in comparison to their child ess. After the first formal conference with parents, the CBM sheets are sent home for the remaining three quarters. She also saw that the CBM sheet improved the ease of explaining individual student data and the objectivity of the data source. The CBM clea rly, specifically, and visually displayed individual student progress in relation to grade level targets in each academic area. Furthermore, Teacher 2 suggested that the CBM sheet was helpful in explaining grade were able to see the current benchmark for the academic area as well as the end of the year expectation. Parents also appreciated this aspect as Parent D I think it also is In addition, the objectivity of the data was h elpful when communicating to parents about their child. Teacher 3 Like parents would come back and say well you said, you said this. There was a lot more of

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81 on a page and w less discrepancies. And less upset I think on th T he use of the CBM sheet provided a framework for the clear presentation of comprehensive data. It also allowed for teachers to talk objectively about child progress with their parents, which also decreased the potential for parent upset a subjectivity. Communicating with the CBM sheet seemed to make the grading process rs we re able to talk about a child in context of their performance using data as a guide for the conversation. Researchers (Harry, 1992; Waltman & Frisbie, 1994) suggested that parental misunderstanding is often caused by variability in grading practices and th e of DRS however, the CBM sheet is used each quarter and across grades. While communication occurred through formal routes of the parent teacher conference and t he CBM sheet, it also happened through more informal routes, such as email, phone calls, and check ins during student drop off and pick up after school. Teacher 2 make phone call B ut then I try to be able to make a c Teacher 3 and Teacher 1 seemed to prefer sending emails as a quick check in with parents.

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82 Teacher 3 Teacher 1 added: I communicate mostly through email, so something comes up, I email them. loop and ask their kids, you know, when they come home. And then also, then parents if they hav e any questions can feel free to email me back. In fact, most teachers and parents agreed that more frequent communication about day to day news occurred informally. Teacher 1 stated: the day to day discussions on the fron t circle or a parent popping their head in or Teacher 3 And so the more kids I have that go to parent pick up or that actually brin g kids in the morning, the more face to face contact I These informal, frequent conversations were an additional source of information Parent A indica ted that this communication happened on an almost daily basis: I love the circle because I just see her letting us know just kind of good day/great day, this is you know, gosh we did quarters today and he got that so quickly. Just you know, those regular check ins are, to me, very helpful. H aving informal routes of communication allowed for more frequent co ntact instead of relying solely on formal lines of communication. Informal contact also allowed parents to remain updated even if they were unable to be present at school for a meeting or conference. Parent C described the importance of these informal chec k ins for parents through email, constantly sending home reminders and giving progress updates as far

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83 as all the kids made their reading log, their 75 minutes this week, so e verybody gets a prize. You know, stuff like that, it keeps you connected to the classroom without having While parents found the informal routes of communication to be helpful for quick updates, most indicated that they did not want to hear important updates about their of news in a face to face meeting. Parent I best expressed this concern: I want to see and wait until they walk off to class to talk to the teacher Overall, teachers also indicated that they communicated with parents of students receiving intervention more frequently in comparison to other parents. Teacher 3 stated: re receiving intervention are families Teacher 1 So, despite there being a school wide protocol fo r formal communication, it was evident that parents of students receiving intervention are in more frequent contact with their All in all, using informal modes of communication helped to maintain frequent communication bet ween parents and teachers. It also allowed teachers to deliver progress Parents and teacher s suggested that informal communication occurred much more frequently than formal routes of com munication. And, although teachers did not use informal communication methods to deliver information that was as comprehensive as what was

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84 received during the conference, these routes of communication seemed to be just as valuable for parents. Parents appr eciated the ability to stay updated abo ut their child and the classroom, especially when they received that information frequently. Focus on the Assessment Intervention Link A majority of the parent teacher conversations were centered on the asse ssment int ervention link. This occurred for several reasons, including that teachers informed parents what they were doing to help their struggling child in the classroom and because all parents expressed a desire to help their child at home. During the conference situation and throughout the year, teachers informed This was based on information shared For teachers, a natural prog ression from talking about the assessment piece was to discuss the intervention strategies they had used with that student to improve their skills in the classroom. Parent H indicated that this conversation happened without her having to ask the teacher wh at her child was receiving i n the classroom to help improve his skills: of them have been very efficie nt and effective in telling us as they present some pretty specific, you know, specific things about when he would, what it would be in his reading, what she was doing in class to be able to help him with his reading. Or she would pull him aside, you know, if there was something he was struggling with, or help him with a particular area. So both of them were very proactive in telling us what their plans were for them as he came up shor t in the different areas. Parent B also described how this conversation occurred naturally during her contact

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85 classroom to try to kind of emphasize or focus on the areas where we noted some strategies in the classroom. All parents in this study expressed a desire to help their child with academic tasks at home. Hen derson and Berla (1994 ) d iscovered that support for learning at home is this study, u nderstanding that their child was not makin g adequate progress incited parents to seek out opportuniti es to help their child as much as they could. Most of the Parent B said, a couple more times just more focused on strategies of ways to help out at home. Things that were worki Parents appreciated when teachers gave them specific strategies to practice their targeted areas at home This occurred frequently as parents requested more information ab out ho For example, Parent Teacher 2 has been really, really good at telling me things that I could do at home. So board n me lists of thin gs we could be doing on the white board, and those Parent F and what kinds o Furthermore, parents often used these conversations to discover ways to streamline home school intervention Once parents were able to find ways that the teacher was helping their child at school, they wanted to attempt to employ similar

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86 strategies at home. Parent B provided an example of this home school intervention link: help out at home. Things that were workin g well in the classroom, to try and reinforce By doing this, parents and teachers were able to work as a team to increase by utilizing consistent intervention strategies Reliance on Joint E xamination of the Data P arents relied progress information for a number of reasons. For parents in this study, this occurred most frequently during direct contact with the teacher and second arily with other sources of social support. Having face to face conversations about the data allowed parents to better make sense of unfamiliar educational terms, better understand their teacher. During Direct Contact with the Teacher d to examine the data with the teacher to better understand the academic areas and their specific progress In fact, parents seem ed to rely on this contact to make sense d to communicate in clear, parent friendly ways. The quality of the se face to face interactions is discussed below. The first formal in t eraction that allowed for direct contact wa s during the beginning of the year parent teacher conferen ce. It was discovered that parents valued the face to face aspect of the pare nt teac her conference. First, they appreciated the comprehensive information t hey received about their child. Second, they welcomed the

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87 fact that teachers presented the CBM data and then explained the data to them. Finally, having direct contact with the teacher initially opened th e lines of communication in the relationship for th e rest of the year. A major aspect of the conference situation that parents most appreciated was the ability to have face to In meeting face to face with the teacher, using the CBM sheet as a guide, parents were able to gain a s cribed the data collected, but also placed the data in the context of the individual child. During the conference situation, teachers described what the numbers meant for the individual child in terms of their progress, their comparison to grade level benchmarks, and strategies they used in the classroom to improve student performance, as Teacher 1 described: We present the data because the scores itself on the CBM sheet with t he determine them as below grade level or on grade level. So we use those scores to present those to parents to say yep, your daughter/son whatever is on the way to second grade, or you them at home so they can make progress. meeting with the teacher in person because the teacher tailored the conversation to the Parent A stated that with her because she puts kind of meat to the bones. You know, was tailored to the individual student, which parents appreciated. Another element of the conference situation that was helpful for parents was that the teachers did not rely on written text alone to deliver comprehensive progress

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88 information. Harry (1992) argued that communicating with parents through written text assumes that parents understand the nature of thei which they are being assessed. Often times, this is not the case. Rather than sending home the initial CBM sheet, the teachers in this study met with each parent individually to relay a comprehensive picture of each discussed the types of data collected and the rationale behind the collection of data throughout the year. According to parents, relying on the data from the CBM sheet without a conference would have confused a nd frustrated them. Parent A Parent F me and telling me, or a follow up email with what this means, how she feels about the test, how she feels P is doing based on the other kids in the class or where she needs to be at that time of th Parent H added: parent perspective, this is probably a broader sense, these to me are very difficult to can be confusing an d overwhelming. As many parents stated, they often times do not understand educational jargon or the significance of the data. Consistent with previous research, the use of technical jargon paired with a high level of comprehension necessary to understand assessments is a common problem in traditional home school communication practices (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Harry, 1992; Roit & Pfohl, 1984). Although the language included in the CBM sheet is different than that of report cards or

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89 psychoeducational eval uations, it is apparent that parents still do not feel comfortable understanding and interpreting that data on their own. So, having a teacher present to describe the data and answer any questions is invaluable to parents. In addition, having an initial i n person conference opened the lines of communication between the teacher and parent. The majority of parents stated that they wanted to be able to talk freely with the teacher about their concerns and questions. Parents also wanted to feel like their voic es were being heard in the parent teacher relationship. Parent I that open dialect with the teacher. Just having you know, I can state how I feel about it, I can agree to disagree with you and not ha ve to worry about whether my child is going to Weiss and Edwards (1992) suggested that, through consistent and effective home school communication practices, school staff are telling parents that they want to work collaboratively with them and that mutual problem solving is in the best interest of the student. Beginning the year with a positive face to face conference also set the stage for straightening out any misconcept ions. As Parent C shing these clear lines of contact in a face to face meeting was valuable for parents so that they could ask questions and clarify confusion about their the RtI process. Similarly, Mundschenk and Foley (1994) concluded that believing in the se messages of collaboration and shared information allows for parents

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90 and teachers to trust and respect each other, which will likely reduce future miscommunic ation All teachers expressed the desire to communicate with parents in a clear and understanda ble way, particularly during the initial conference. First, teachers wanted parent friendly language that better explained the skills on the CBM sheet and their chil In doing so, teachers tried not to use educational jargon. Teacher 1 stated: down to them by any means but DRS and the education field is very big on acronyms and so trying to deliver the information to them and make sure they have a really thorough understanding of what it is that their child is achieving, not achieving. Teacher 3 also indicated that using basic, easily comprehens ible language instead of heads or give them too much information at a time, so I try to kind of slow it down and Teachers tried to make the information meaningful and usable for parents by describing the data in a way tha t made sense to parents Teacher 3 possible and have it be meaningful to the families so that they understand what it is that To check for understanding, teachers also encouraged parents to ask questions and share their thoughts. Teacher 2 describing her process of explaining the CBM data. desired to examine the data wit h the teacher. These face to fac e meetings allowed

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91 individual needs. In fact, parents seemed to rely on this contact to make sense of their with parents in a constructive manner With Other Sources of Social Support Parents believe d tha t interacting with the teacher wa s the most helpful way to make if their understanding was still unclear, they sought out other sources to help them make sense of the data. Other sources of social support help ed parent and supplement ed Experience with academic progress infor mation from other children also supplemented their understanding. Parents described seeking out a variety of sources to help enhance their other parents, friends, and family members in the education field. First, it should be noted that parents looked to other sources of social support to clarify or enhance what had discusse d with them not to replace that information. Parent D When seeking out the advice of others in their lives, parents specifically wanted the information described to them in a more comprehensible attempts to communicate in a clear, parent friendly way, there was still a communication breakdown in several parent teacher re lationships. This often occu rred due to the technical langu age that teachers used when describing data from the CBM sheet. Parent I described who she co ntacted after receiving the CBM sheets and her rational e for doing so :

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92 My husband is a high school teacher so when I get this, I take this to whichever one of them that can help me the most. Which is usually his and my husband is more in the high school. And she dissects this and breaks it down one by one for break tha t down for me. Parent H also suggested that she seeks out family members who are educational eeking out other sources of social support, parents were able to fill in the gaps of their understanding by talking to people w ho did not use technical or educational terms S eeking out other sources of social support also helped to reassure parent s about their understanding of Parent F getting from Teacher 1 Y ou know, how do you perceive your child is doing? W ell you know accurate information from the teacher They also desired to check about the normality of in relation to their peers Parent D was often asked questions like these from other parents due to her experiences in the classroom as an assistant. Parent D said: They wanted reassurance. They want to make what role does that play? wanted to understand the meaning behind assessing particular skills at a particular time and how the scores

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93 from the CBM sheet interacted with each other For most parents, these ques tions were still left unanswered after the initi al conference with the teacher and they Another element outside of relationships with school staff that was helpful for parents when developing their previous exp erience with data. In particular, several parents in this study had older children, many of whom attended DRS and had been assessed using CBM. Parents indicated that having prev ious experience with the CBM sheet made them more comfortable in their understanding of the data. Similar to other parents, Parent H identified experience s with other children as a significant factor in the development of When first exposed to the CBM sheet, parents remembered feeling confused. Parent B said: And at that point, I had no knowledge of what these were. The first time I ever heard DIBELS, I thought what in the world is somebody talking about? But there was a, some sort of a handout I believe, a little booklet maybe that de scribed, or on the back side of these, that gives a little bit better regular basis with my other daughter. At that point I was in the classroom at least one day a week every week and had participated in seeing some of these and how that testing is done, so I had a l ittle bit of knowledge However, as she became more familiar w i th CBM by reading about it and seeing it in action in the classroom, Parent B developed a better understan ding of what the CBM sheet meant for her child. The same was true for Parent A kind of know what those [skills measured on CBM sheet] mean. Maybe partially for our The format of the CBM sheet and the

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94 parent teacher communication protocol has stayed pretty similar over the years, according to parents. This consistency has also aided in the development of their understa n ding of data. Parent D t least Parent E added that k now October the familiarity with the CBM sheet and the consistency with the school wide communication protocol helped parents to feel more comfortable with their understa n Establishing a Close, Trusting Relationship with Their C teacher, parents described how they developed the ir teacher relations hip, some luable information throughout their patterns of communication particularly in terms of how to support student learning at home Trust in Teacher Judgment A close parent teacher relationship allowed parent s to openly express their concerns and trust in th e teacher judgment about their child achievement This was particularly true when parents felt that the teacher understood their child as a unique individual. In spite of the data that they received, parents seemed to rely more on the etation of the data than on the data themselves In turn, they trusted

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95 what the teacher told them because they relied on the teacher to help them make sense of the data. Parent A She knows hi m. Which is very different than just seeing this (points to CBM he need a tutor or what do we need to do, becau about it. Parent A context of our child probably more objectively than like, as a mom, you do. Because Parent G achievement. She said: I go more by what the teacher tells me. I tion or S worried. And I think she was probably right. He just needed some time to developmentally get there. De professional opinion was most valued. Through effective and collaborative home school communication, parents and t This approach paired with the CBM data also allowed for a decrease in parent teacher miscommunication, which is consistent with past research (Mundschenk & Foley, 1994; Weiss & Edwards, 1992). Teacher as a Source of Emotional Support In some cases, pare nts felt that teachers were a source of emotional suppor t, especially when their child wa s struggling. This support typically came in the form of

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96 n dently from the teacher, parents often worried and we re seriously hearing their rationale for t he data presentation often calmed their anxiety. Parent A describes her initial react was below grade level in reading: When we went to see her to ask her about some comments, she was much more reassuring and was able to say, than a piece of paper is, this is why I st letting us know what they saw at this point, or what she saw going to be fine. You know, she was just kind of reassuring that this is going like to address it. In meeting with the teacher, parents were sometimes able to gain a sense of Having a teacher who appeared to be an emotiona l supp ort to parents was important since especially when their child was struggling. Such emotions included surprise, guilt, anxiety, and concern. Parent A described her reaction after he connection with her and knew we were surprised about some of [her] comments [about him] she did not realize that he was struggling in more than one academic area. Parent F was also no concerns were brought up the previous year. She said, I was very surprised that she was struggling so much based on the little bit of confusion about, is this different teacher perception, is this we

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97 where she need ed to be in kindergarten? I guess I was just shocked to hear P was behind. I guess I had just assumed that how she was reading was how all her peers were reading. When parents discovered that their child was struggling in an academic area, most mentioned t he feeling of guilt. Parents felt guilty when their child was performing below grade level because they felt responsible for their struggles. They thought that it might have been their fault, whether through a biological link to learning difficulties or th rough an environmental cause, such as not working with them enough at home. When Parent E thought that maybe she had not advocated enough for her child or had not read enough with her at home. Parent F discussed her guilt by saying: was right where she needed to be in kindergarten? I had a baby over the summer so we had a lot of changes around our house and we probably her to slip way behind. These feelings of guilt were not uncommon for parents in this study, particularly when de level performance. For a few parents in this study, they had older children to which to compare their data, they came to the realization that they paid more attention data. Again, there was more emotion tied to that data than to the data of their high achieving children. Parent E said : I think it really depends upon the child. Because my first two children are fairly high academic achievers. So when you get the scores, you know, I little bit. Because my older two are so high achievers, you know you see

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98 these numbers mean far more to me than they did for the other two, okay? u have to start asking more questions. Similar to Parent G Parent E felt compelled to closel y questions. She felt that she needed more information for this child than for her high achieving children, and she felt that the data were even more important in that situation. All in al l, when parents had other, high achieving children as a frame of reference for unders tanding their struggling child Pa rents felt responsible for looking at that data and understanding it since their child was perfo r ming below grade level standards. Teacher as a Source of Valuable Information A trusting p arent teacher relationship allowed parents to feel comfortable to ask for advice. And, muc h of this advice centered on strategies for supporting learning at home which was a central topic in parent teacher communication. Teachers s, which likely aided in successful parent teacher communication. A key element of a successful parent teacher relationship in this study centered on being provided with valuable information, particularly ideas for supporting learning at home Teachers oft en recommended online resources, as Parent E describes: type games like Ticket to Read that she likes to do at home and a couple of other ones, I know how to get on those from the webpag e. Those are all accessible to me from the DRS web page and the grade level page. In other cases, though, parents were given specific, academic strategies to help with specific difficulty. Parent E said:

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99 When I talked to Teacher 2 she did gi ve me some sheets to work with her, so what I did is I do a dry erase board and I have maybe different blends or in which it goes. It helps her with her spelling and try to sort wha he long e sound Parents appreciated that ability to have working closely with them at home. In addition, it gave them a sense of relief to kno w that they were doing what they could to help. When they received advice regarding ways to support learning at home all parents in this study indicated that they embraced that knowledge to help their child in any way possible. Parent I is a good referenc e point for this She said : And when we get that information, we make our house what he needs. Like kindergarten, but w know, I asked Teacher 2 to send me a list of them home and we put them on index cards. We tape them to the walls and the bathroom will be a certain amount, the dining room area will be a certain amount, in his room out to him and he has to use them in a sentence and he has to break down the sounds. So we do our bes t to, once we get this information, to try to keep up with what Teacher 2 is doing at school. So we try to do that at home as well. Teachers were also aware that parents want to know more. The three questions that teachers indicated that parents most often Teachers listened to the parents, recognized common patterns in the questions that parents ask them, and gained a se nse about pa which allowed teachers to guide their discussions at conferences and during in person meetings.

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100 Teacher 3 ata from the CBM sheet. Parents often asked questions about the reading skills themselves, such as decoding or fluency. They wanted to understand what the skill was in order to help their child at home. When parents had difficulty understanding the meaning behind the skills, tea c hers typically gave a verbal and written explanation and also encouraged parents to ask questions. Teacher 2 exp l a ined her process for answering this question: Well they do ask, What does it mean? em an explanation but I will also refer them to the back [of the CBM sheet] Because I will tell them, you know, when you get home remember all the things that I say. So back here is a written explanation. And then I tell them, you kno This process was common for the entire first grade teaching team. They attempted to give parents a variety of ways to understand data and encouraged them to ask questions when necessary. When examining the CBM sheet in conjunction with the teacher, parents also wanted to know how their child was performing in relation to their peers. Teacher 1 said this was apparent during conversations with parents as well as when they volunteered in the classroom: They always want to compare. Parents always want to compare like, you know, are they at the top of their class, bottom of the class, you know? Th lower than this group. While parents were interested in this information, they did not feel it was answered by the data on the CBM sheet.

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101 Teachers sometimes expressed hesitation regarding home support for learning questioning parents to effectively help their child at hom e. Teacher 1 described teachers sometimes attempted to determine providing them with strategies to support learning at home And interestingly, during SST meetings, teachers mentioned only a few parents in this study as helping their child at home, despite the fact that every parent reported supporting learning at home Finally, parents develop ed infor c ame from com bining the academic data they had received from the school with their own observations and teacher observations. Use of Data in Conjunction with Parent and Te acher Observations Although the CBM sheet was an important source of information when developing also used observations escribed this Parent D best described: And this [CBM sheet] definitely helps. I think again it paints another layer on how the child is developing, but I also think sometimes you know, the situation or the behavior or the group of kids, the environment, who did the testing, also is something that you extrapolate from that conversation you have with the teacher. In terms of comparing the data to parent observations, Parent B of confi

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102 Parent E echoed this day t Data from the CBM sheet helped parents to confirm or disconfirm what they were seeing at home. Data also helped them to hypothesize about why their child was struggling. For example, Parent C s been like this since maybe, he se Parent E h y performance by saying: discom thing else you can work on too is getting used to being timed. Finally, parents used the data from the CBM sheet to plan for home support for learning Parent G need to do something ab Parent I saw and knew what were his areas of difficulty to focus on at home. All in all, f or parents, re s were just one element in making sense of their child progress But, the data did help them to formulate hypot achievement and plan for intervention.

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103 Another element that was helpful for some parents was classroom ob se r vations One major aspec Observing their child in the classroom helped to answer that question, whic h was left unanswered by the CBM sheet. Parent G which Parent D kind of how kids are doing Parents also used their classroom observations to facilitate s upport for learning at home Parent B suggested that being in the classroom helped her learn ways to help her child at home when she was struggling. She said: the strategies that she was using with reading in particular and having help her be able to sound out words and things like that. Pa rent D volunteered in Parent D picture of what was happening and how I could make things at home be supportive of him learn s classroom, including gain their peers and learning ways to help their child at home This is consistent with

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104 research by DeCusati & Johnson (2004) the results of which suggest about classroom goals and how to complement this at home seem to be important forms of parent involvement at the first Interestingly, teachers also relied on data in conjunction with observations when describing student academic progress. Although the CBM sheet provided a framework for communicating with parents, teachers often supplemented their conversations with what they saw on a day to day basis, especiall y if the data did not present the most T eachers supplem ented objective, number focused data with their own qualitative observations. This also alluded to the idea of CBM data a n d observations as layers for devel oping und erstanding, as Teacher 3 Teacher 1 said: day to day, getting, having them rich with diverse texts in reading, leveled hands on so I can watch them and se individual child rather than numbers on a page. Like Parent A said, speaking with her Teacher 3 scores. I could give them nuances of the unique individual, teachers would supplement this information with their own observations.

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105 Presentation of a Balanced V Parents and teachers in this study were asked to discuss student progress based on data from the CBM she et. When asked to describe each student progress, teachers hievement while emphasizing their positive characteristics. Interestingly, the parents explained their It was discovere d that, for parents of children who struggled the most, their greatest desire for their child was to be on grade level. And interestingly, the parents of students receiving Tier 3 services did not seem to based on the data alone. of difficulty. However, t his was typically followed by a discussion about their strengths Parent C provides a typical description of how parents excels in math. He likes math much more than reading But he is an excellent reader. hat interest s him. When he finds something tha t interests him, and I think easier for him to, you know, get into the story and read and that kind of thing. Parent F progress by saying: She was struggling. She was below even the number they list as minimally gets it so far. She can do her homework by herself.. And the teacher on the it comes to math. Although her child was not above grade level in mathematics, she mentioned this during conversation, especially after she had d

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106 which she struggled. occur when discussing the data which was clearly an emotional experience for them. Parent E is a good example of this, b ecause she expressed the most intense emotional struggles, and often brought this up during the interview. When asked to describe her services that somebody takes out and helps her, and so I have to work with she needs to be by any stre tch of the imagination Overall, m ost parents did focus on presenting Parents presented a balanced but more frequently positive view about their child In particular, they emphasized the amount of progress that their child had made that Parent A depicted this, saying : I can tell you the dif ference between the first and the second quarter which she kind of was saying to us is, he was still showing below grade level second quarter, but she was really good about showing us, like had gone, word, encouraging to her. Parent F lot better. She still falls below grade level, but definitely is catching up to where she needs to be based on what

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107 Teacher 1 wanted to find the positive. They often talked about Interestingly, t ive qualities. This included presenting a comprehensive view of students beyond the data alone. Teacher 3 described this comprehensiv : with these, but there are so many other skills I picked up in and he would show me as he was decoding his guided reading levels that he was being able to decode new words. So I would describe how I could observe in context that he was actually doing these things so that these test scores highlight student But what I try to point out to the parents is if the gap is closin that she wanted a ssisted teachers in building solid, constructive parent teacher communication patterns. And, b teacher to make sense of their academic progress, it is likely that they remembered the The ways that teachers presented the academic progress information really resonated with the parents and became their own description of the data in turn. Parents and teacher s presented their views about student prog ress in remarkably similar ways.

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108 desire for their child to be on grade level. This was especially true for parents when they P arent H 3 intervention all year, and she recognized that he was not meeting grade level expectations. While coming to terms with this, she said: ch however, I say that at the same time that I would rather them be well [I] see that education is very important, is where he needs to be to continue to progress without being stressed out Parent I echoed this s entiment. Her child was retained in kindergarten and had been receiving Tier 3 intervention all year. Parent I st For these p arents, it was less important for their child to be above grade level and more important for them to be average and exhibiting other positive qualities. Interestingly enough the same parents of children receiving Tier 3 services did not recognize the int alone. Although both students had either been retained or were performing significantly below grade level benchmarks, Parent H little bit below some of the oth Parent I also said: got 20. Or 15. You know he was supposed to get 20 and 8, he got 11 and 18 and nk it should have been some significantly different numbers than this because away

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109 meant in t erms of the interaction of the CBM skills. In addition, neither of these parents were a b le to see their child in the classroom setting, so they were not able to gain an ess relative to their peers thro ugh the data or obs ervations. Based on the data alone, these parents were not able to determine how significant unde ation, they also expressed a number of unmet nee ds. In particular, parents difficulties as early as possible, which many did not feel happened. Parents also wanted t o gain a better understanding of CBM, including the skills measured and the classroom assessment schedule. Not surprisingly, parents also desired more information regarding how to support learning at home Overall, parents wanted their concerns to be liste ned to, and when that occurred, most parents seemed satisfied with the information that A major concern expressed by parents related to difficulties late. In previ ous studies, parents also report ed that they we re not informed of ituation had become considerably worse (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Jayanthi et al., 1992, as cited in Harniss et al., 2001). Parent I expres sed this concern best by saying:

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110 wait until I get this [CBM sheet]. I want to know, like if you notice this on the 3 rd week of school just starting, I want to know then. Parents expressed the desire to be informe d of any difficulty as soon as the teacher became aware of it. They also wanted to be informed about it through face to face, Parents recognized the importance of iden tifying academic difficulties early, as Parent E on, you know, I want to know as fast as p early as possible so that they could help their child, either at home or through other services. Parent I later so that would have allowed me ample opportunity and more time to work with him Parent E Three weeks is not enough time! parents wanted to be informed of academic difficulties early It was discovered that parents also desired more comprehensive information regarding CBM. They wanted to gain a better understanding about t he CBM, including the test requirements and the assessment schedule in the classroom. Many parents expressed the desire to see the tests as a way to get a better picture about what their child was expected to do. Or, as Parent D an my kids She said : words are

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111 bo oks so the teachers, I mean parents and teachers, can kind of both know what those assessments involve. Parent E the skills measured by CBM, which would be helpful for supporting learning at home parents felt that seeing the CBM data sheets would provide them with additional information about their child. Several parents suggested that background information, inclu taking behaviors and the testing environment, would be important to know. Parent G sai Parent E said: And I also think that it would be useful that since this is a snapshot in time, if there were notes from the individual who assesses. Is A, you know what is her demeanor right now? Does she appear tired? Was she sniffling? Does she seem nervous?...When I asked Teacher 2 he did. And I think that would be very, very telling you know. Parent D who was a classroom assistant in a previous year and had been involved in assessing children using CBM, found it valuable to have this kind of information She literacy that why decoding is important or you know, what role sight words play in a kid Consistent with previously discussed results, parents expressed the desire to k now more about ways to support learning at home Or, as Parent I e Parent F suggested that this was often on her mind, is

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112 It was obvious that parents in this study required different levels of information to work with their child at home. Sometimes this was due to lack of knowledge about how to help their child and other times it was due to their intense concern for t academic struggles that led them to seek out additional information. Parents felt that it was necessary for them to help their child at home and that their achievement partially depended on that. Parent E A few parents, such as Parent D understood the though, did not understand the language of the CBM sheet and felt lost when trying to help their child at home in that area. Parent E know how to line it u P arents desired recommendations that were more specific and A recurring message that parents delivered when discussing their unmet needs for communication was that they just wanted to be heard. They wanted th eir concerns to be listened to. When they did not feel that this happened, parents became upset and appeared satisfied with the parent teacher communication patterns. Parent E told her story by saying: And then you know, and I know Teacher 2 communicated that I think

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113 Parent E felt that her child could have been receiving additional services earlier on if the teacher had listened to her concerns and trusted her opinions about her child. On the other hand, for parents who felt like their con cerns were listened to, their satisfaction with communication was high. child struggled throughout first grade and received Tier 3 services all year, she expressed that she still needs with the teacher. She said: They have taken the information because in particular I met with them I guess the beginning of the school year to talk about what our concerns were going into first grade. So I think they took the concerns that we had and talked with Teacher 3 and we talked with Teacher 3 and we were able to use those then to target areas for him that we felt like he needed to be taking it into consideration as they ma de decisions. It was clear throughout conversations with Parent H that her desire was for her voice to be heard. As long as her concerns were taken into account during communication with school staff, she seemed satisfied, despite the fact that her child still struggled in the classroom. progress information. They hoped that the information would be delivered as early as possible so that they could seek help for them. They a lso wished that they had a better understanding of CBM and what kinds of tests their child was taking. Also, many indicated that they still wanted more information about ways to support learning at home Finally, parents particularly wanted their concerns to be listened to and their

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114 The Ways in Which Parents Participate in Educational Decision Making for Their Child The second guiding research question for the study addressed paren t participation in educational decision making during an RtI service model. When analyzing the data relsted to this question, it was most helpful to describe it within the context of According to Bronfenbrenner, human between an individual and their surrounding environments ( Bronfenbrenner, 2005, p. 4). res, each insid e the other like a set of Russia Bronfenbrenner, 2005, p. 5). These nested structures include the microsystem, the mesosystem, and the exosystem. The microsystem is the immediate environment in which a pattern of activities is exper ienced by the developing individual. The mesosystem is a system of microsystems that includes the processes taking place between several settings in which the individual is involved. And, the exosystem includes the events that occur indirectly, but also in fluence the environments of the developing individual (Bronfenbrenner, 2005) To describe the results for this research question, the microsystem i s defined as the determin ation of their level of involvement in decision making based on their child teacher dyad, and the exosystem is comprised of in the school system. Please see the following figure for a visual display of the themes represented in the second res earch question.

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115 Figure 3 2 How do parents of children receiving intervention participate in educational decision making during an RtI process? Determining their level of involvement based on the intensity of their Experiences within the parent teacher dyad Information gathering Working co llaboratively on Interacting with existing components of the school system High level of parental involvement Description of RtI delivered to parents and staff Use of data to guide decision making Value of professional teamwork

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116 Need s At the individual and microsystemic an assess ment of s specific needs. In doing so, this gave parents a better idea of how much they need ed to be involved in educational decision making f or their child. Parents who felt th intense sought the most opportunities to be involved in decision making. The reasons for this are detailed below. Most parents in this study had other children to which to c ompare their first grade child older children in the family were performing on or above grade level. This situation allowed parents to express the ress information and how their involvement in decision making is different regarding their first grade child who wa s performing below grade level. Parent E began addressing this topic by reiterating that some parents do not care or do not worry about their but I then detailed the differences in decision making for her on and below grade level chi ldren: I think it really depends upon the child. Because my first two children are fairly high academic achievers. So when you get the scores, you know, I lo the name of the assessment, and you know, hat is, and the teacher will then explain a little bit. much a bout it. The problem now is A at, and now these numbers mean far more to me than they did for the other two, okay? asking you know, more questions

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117 For Parent E understanding that her child was struggling in reading led her to ask more questions and seek additional information to inform her decision making. For this parent, that information included how to support learning at home as well as understanding the classroom interventions. It also meant volunteering more i n the Other parents also expressed this idea that they wanted to be more involved in decision making when it involved their struggling child as opposed to their child that was on gra de level. Parent H Parent G also explained that she paid more attention to the data of her child who was performing below grade level, and also made sure that they were working with him at home to remediate his difficulties: [My older son] I never worried, he was always just really above grade leve l, so I never really look ed at it. Bad Mom. But with D I need to look at it at the beginnin g of the year, below grade leve l I need to look at it because ly above grade level. And actually at least at the beginning of the year, below grade level more religious abou t after school reading with D I mean, yes I did it with [my older son] and I still do it, but you know, I try not to miss any days. And you know, try to do at least once on the weekend Overall, for parents of students who were receiving academic intervention services, it more closely than they wou ld have for the children who were performing on or above grade level. After understanding that their child was struggling, this also led them to desire better involvement in educational decision making for their child. This involvement in decision

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118 making c onsisted of asking questions, volunteering in the classroom, seeking the Experiences Within the Parent Teacher Dyad making was also influenced by experiences within the parent teacher dyad. Specifically, parents primary roles in decision In struggles were two of the main responsibilities that parents discussed. In terms of ne piece based decision making team. To fulfill their role on this team, parents felt obligated to help their child at home. Information Gathering Consistent with past research ( Barton, et al. 1984 ; Lusthaus et al., 1981) it was discovered that parents in this study continued to play a passive role in decision making in that they identified asking questions or seeking additional information as a major role hey primarily asked how to support learning at home One goal of discovering this additional information was so that parents could actively participate in the problem solving process regardin g Most parents felt that they could not sufficiently participate in educational decision making for their child without fully understanding their academic progress which is also consisent with past research (Barton et al., 1984)

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119 A major role that parents indicated that they play in educational decision making and other school staff Parent E w the stated the goal for asking questions and seeking out additional information, which is that it facilitate more effective participation in decision making. She descri bed: did this come from, why it has happened. Tell me more, tell me more. Because with that information, it gives you opportunity for decision making the information, then you know, you may not make the right choices for your child. Or you may make them too late, like I feel Parents also asked questions to clarify information that they received ab out their child. For some parents, this included information about classroom interventions, and for others, the discussion revolved around retention. Parent H discussed some of the clarifying questions she asked when her child was in danger of retention: F very open and honest about it in discussions, have had to do with, hat does this information tell me about where he is and where he needs to be grade wise? Does he need to be retain ed? Does he need to go on? Why does he need to go on or why does he need to be held back? At the end of the year, need to ass ess him at the end of the year. T here needs to be the hard questions asked. Does he need to be retained? Is this telling us, you know do we want to continue to move him on at below grade l evel status or does h Withou t fully understanding the requirements for retention and whether her child was falling far enough behind to be retained, Parent H did not feel like she knew how to participate in that decision making process. Again, a lack of understanding about this infor mation led to inaction or uncertainty about participation.

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120 home or summer intervention or the CBM data. Parent G described her decisions about summer intervention for her chi ld: If the third quarter is looking as good as Teacher 2 says it looks, maybe hire a reading tutor over the summer? Are we going to get some remedial help? ... talk to Teac her 2 about whether she thinks we should to a tutor type of thing or whether I could just continue summer. Parent G intervention strategies for her child when he w as not in school. Parents also asked questions to teache rs about how to help their child at home as discussed extensively in the previous section. Parent I hat does it mean? What does it do? How do I as a parent address it at home?...Just give me some insight at home, particularly in a way that would streamline classroom home interventions. Parent B indicated: Like I said, just have a s many different ways of reinforcing the skills as we can have, because we know we gotta work on them Again, kind of the areas that are weak and strategies that we can utilize to kind of boost those skills. Not only in school, but particularly at home so that I know what kinds of things to do to try to improve her performance in school as well as just overall. Parents also wanted to clarify information found on the CBM sheet. Sometimes, this s regarding the skills measured by the CBM sheet. Parent H indicated that she sought out answers when she When this comes home, we just like look at it and if we have questi ons, we address them with Teacher 3 questions was a major role that parents suggested they play in decision making because this often led to more

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121 effective participation in decision making. Without sufficient and clear information, parents were not comfortable or able to participate fully in educational decision making. By combining information that they received from the CBM sheet, their own obervat ions, and teacher observations, parents felt comfortable discussing some reasons for why they thought that their child was struggling in an academic area. Some parents even discussed these role in the problem solving process for their individual child. The reason that some parents looked more nce you find a pattern, then you know how to solve the problem Parent E said. Some hypotheses that parents were suggesting included processing speed deficits, behavioral difficulties, and difficulties with a specific reading skill. Parent B and Parent E describe their hypotheses here: Parent B : t the grade level scoring is. Still struggling a little bit with the DIBELS fluency, that being able to get it out more quickly, which was again, that one is kind re most, more concerning I would say from a parent Parent E l here for reading. Her grade level for reading continues to improve but her decoding has remained interesting to look skipping or miscuing or something like that. Or if there was something like, every blend, she has a problem, or everything with a long vowel. Once you find a pattern, then yo u know how to solve the problem. Athough it was not common across all parents, some parents did feel comfortable

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122 more detail teacher, and attempting to participate in the problem teacher. For them, asking questions appeared to lead to more active involvement in educatio nal decision making for their child Another role that parents played in decision making and also desired more of was making tea m. Parents described that their primary duty in collaboration i s supporting learning at home particularly in terms of continuing and streamlining classroom interventions at home. Parents, especially those of students receiving Tier 3 intervention, express ed a desire to feel like a member of the team and work conjointly As described extensively in previous sections, parents felt obligated to help their child at home. They felt that this was the major way to collaborate and work with the Parent G I see it as this is just part of your job as a parent is to provide those experiences that they might need to get them to where they need to be arents found it important to join forces consistent with classroom interventions. Parent H W e e encounter some of the same kinds of try to apply them at home Parent E echoed this doing, I can probably do some of it at home

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123 parents felt in regards to decision making was often centered around home school collaboration about intervention strategies. Parents of students receiving Tier 3 intervention services discussed the idea that they feel responsible for their child, despite them being at school for most of the day. Because of this, they wanted their voice to be heard in decisions and they wanted to work in c onjunction with school staff during the decision making process. Parent I making. and whit Parent I wanted to be assured t hat her opinion was taken into account during decision making meetings, since she was able to provide information to school staff that teachers could not. Parent H also suggested that parents have valuable information to offer up about their child during d ecision making I see our role, the roles in his education as to be able to since we see him at home as well, to complement the resources that are available here and making ssful Parent H working in conjunction with school staff also meant that she was assured that her child was receiving the most effective and comprehensive services available to him. She said: vested in his success and academics, but most importantly, our role I think is to try to be able to take the resources that are available and kind of see what works best for him. Because I think ultimately we feel responsible for what the

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124 see us, I see our role certainly as a major role because we are his parents, ilized all the resources that are available for him as well. Because she felt responsible as a parent to ensure his success, she sought out all opportunities available to help her child achieve academically. For her, working in conjunction with school staf f meant that her voice and opinions were heard, and that her child was receiving the best services possible. For Parents H and I the parents of the two students in this study who were receiving Tier 3 intervention, two major decision s that they faced were participation in the summ er reading program (SAIL) and For these parents, their involvement in decision making was quite different. Parent I felt that the summer school decision was made without parental input, as she received a letter T hey just send you a letter in the mail. Parent H the decision felt more collaborative. She felt like she was a member of the team who made th at decision for her child. Parent H And the other thing that we agreed, all of us, that he needed to do the SAIL program during the summer S o he did SAIL during the summer, which helped him a lot. He progressed well in that program as well Inter estingly, both parents expressed similar thoughts about their involvement in the retention decision. Parents felt that the retention decision was not theirs and that it was made by school staff instead. However, looking back on the decision, they indicated that they were satisfied with the decision that was made for their child and they would not have changed it Parent I described how she struggled with the school

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125 And then we all held him back. We ma de a decision to hold him el l they made the decision to hold him back, and I pondered on it if I should send him somewhere else t o keep him with his grade level; however able to keep up. Parent H described how the decision that school staff made was not what she and her husband wanted for their child. She said: I have strong feelings that he needed to be retained in kindergarten, and so he did go ahead a nd go to first Because like at the end of kindergarten what I thought this told me was that he needed to be retained in kindergarten. Obviously there were different ideas about that that we re outside of our control, but to me, if yo the o you need to be in that grade again to get up to that grade level? And so for me in kindergarten what I thought it meant was that he needed to be retained in kindergar ten. There were different ideas. Parent H because she did not undertand the criteria for retention and how her child did or did not meet those criteria. The information that c ould have helped both parents better understand the decision making process for retention was not available to them, and education. Conversely, the parents also felt resp school and being their advocate, so it appeared that they felt a sense of helplessness during the decision m aking process about retention. ision, they felt that the school in fact made the best decision for their child, and they were retain their child. T his high level of satisfaction despite a described low level of involvement in decision making is similar to

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126 the results of Fish Parent I suggested that she had come to terms with the retention decision and decided to keep So then I said maybe this is what he needs Parent H ything explained: I t ended up not being that way and he did go into first grade and one of the things I told them at the end of the year meeting: I think their insistence upon him being in first grade as opposed to kindergarten, the administr ative insistence of him being in first grade as opposed to kindergarten ended up being a very good decision for him. I think it was the best decision for him. how well, where he started first grade and where he ended first grade, I think first grade was the best decision for him. I think they made a very good decision in being insistent upon him going to first grade. And I told them that. I said you know I was wrong about that. I think first grade was better for him because he did advance If you were asking me this last summer, I would have probably said something different, but in hindsight, it was a good decision to keep him in first grade. He has done well and because we had exp ressed our opinion about that, I think that the resources that were available to him and how the helped him in first grade, I mean there is nothing that I could have changed. I mean it was, he had help with his reading and he had the counseling and all of the other resources anything differently Parent H was satisfied with the decision because she felt that her voic e and concerns had been heard. She also felt that her child had made good progress during his retention year, which further confirmed her satisfaction with the retention decision. Despite not feeling involved in the retention decision, parents still expres sed satisfaction with the decision because they felt that it was in the best interest of their child. Based on these results, it appears that parents are stil l taking on the more passive role of asking questions and providing information. However, they are beginning to take

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127 supporting learning at home They home s teacher and other school staff as a team. They want to feel included and play an active role in decision making, just as the school based professionals do. This includes being heard, having their opinions recognized and taken into account, and feeling va lued during the process. Parent E I try to partner up Parents wanted to feel like a necessary piece of the educational decision making puzzle, as Parent H expressed: We play a pivotal role in it as do th e teachers and the administrators and L and the psychologists. Everybody together has really been involved with his education. I see us as really just a piece of the puzzle in his education. And ble to work us just as a resource And, parents wanted to feel like a necessary team member from the very beginning of Parent I who did not feel like a v alued team member at the beginning of the study, concluded that she needed to feel that way duing the next school year. She said: You know, for someone to say in the beginning, to sit down and looked at C where he is, this is where we would like for him to be or this is a great spot for him to be, what can we all do together to keep this this way?... We figure if me and you do this together, then we could keep him at this point. How doe s this sound to you ? Teachers in this study indicated that they wanted parents to be involved by attending meetings and helping their child at home. One teacher in particular, Teacher 2 suggested that teamwork with parents was essential for student succes s. She discussed this idea by saying:

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12 8 Well I want the parents to see, to consider our group a team. I want them to feel like they are part of the team and so they have an activ e role to play as tatistics really do show that children who leave first g rade below grade level have a slim chance of being on grade level in fifth grade. And I feel like when I first heard that, I was startled by that statistic. So I feel like them to be a part of the team. Teacher 2 often talked about the notion of teamwork, but did not describe in depth what discuss extensively the strategies that parents requested to suppo rt learning at home and their responses to them. Teacher 2 and Teacher 1 provided more standard and universal ideas to all parents, while Teacher 3 emphasized differentiating strategies ing this Teacher 2 said: One of the major things I emphasize too when we have a conferences is that I let the parents know that the children can be working at three different levels: independent level, instructional level, and frustration level. And I let the parents know that noone should be trying to force a child to work at frustration level and that I like to be the person who is helping the children at their instructional level and that I want the parents to be helping the children at their independen t level. And I let them know that practice at a parents that I would much rather the child joyfully want to sit down and work difficult. So I try to make sure that I explain the difference between those What th Teacher 2 often recommended that parent rea d with their child at one level their independent level. In contrast, Teacher 3 prided herself on providing individualized suggestions to parents about how to h elp their child. She said: I actually sometimes show them different things or give them examples of

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129 th em an example and show them an example of how their child has Teacher 3 made an effort to pro vide different individual needs. All teachers responded how to help their child at home, which they felt was a more active way to be involved in decision making. However, the ways in which teachers approached answering those questions varied. All in all, parents felt like they played an important and active role in decision making for their child by asking questions, seeking out information and resources, and helping their child at home. However, often times, they felt left out of important school based decisions. Thi s was especially true in terms of retention decisions. Parents wanted their voices to be heard and their concerns listened to during the decision making process, and they wanted to be involved from the very beginning. Interacting with Existing Components o f the School System At the exosystemic level, there were a variety of factors unique to this particular school system that likely impacted the ways in which parents developed an understanding of data and participated in educational decision making. Such fa ctors included the historically high level of parental involvement, the school wide emphasis on data to make decisions, the value that teachers and other school staff place on professional collaboration, and the description of RtI that was provided to scho ol staff and parents. High Level of Parental Involvement At DRS there are several factors that impact parental involvement. First, teachers

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130 family members to experience di fferent aspects of the school day or participate as volunteers. Teachers also have parents as regular volunteers in the classroom and as assistants during special events. Although school staff recognized barriers to parental involvement at the school level they expressed a high level of satisfaction with parental involvement and suggested that they welc omed parental involvement in multiple way s Support staff indicated that they emphasize an open door policy at DRS That is, they want open communication wi th families and they want to encourage them to be present at the school as much as possible. Support staff X Well we always have an open door policy. Parents can be involved as much as they like Teacher 3 agreed, I have a really open door policy where parents feel free to drop in Support staff X went on to describe how staff at DRS encourages parents by sharing information with them directly. She said: We have very frequently in first grade a significant amount of parents who like to volunteer, be involved you know in the goings on in the classroom, which is great. Parents are welcome to call and ask questions at any time. They are always invited to a first conference in October. Nothing goes home, meaning like no academic progress re ports or anything, go home until a conference has been had with them. We do our very best to get every single parent in to do that. Support staff Z agreed with this by saying, We have a very open communication system here urge d to meet with school staff and ask questions. Then, if any questions remained, they were encouraged to visit the school for a better understanding. Support staff Y I always encourage parents to come in hat SRA There is a noticeable system wid e agreement about the importance of an open door policy in addition to a welcoming environment to aid in parental involvement.

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131 Teachers and support staff indicated that parents are regular classroom volunteers as well as participants in less frequent, special events. When participating regularly as volunteers in the classroom, parents typically helped to facilitate a small reading or math group. Teacher 2 said: I have some parent vo also to help them with vocabulary because they ta lk to them some about the books and that kind of thing too T hen I have 2 parents that come in game that I have the parent do For some teachers, it was important for parents to fe el comfortable when volunteering in the classroom. Teacher 3 attempted to make parents comfortable by allowing parents to choose from a variety of activities to participate in. She said: I try to also differentiate with them as well and give them what acti vities within their comfort range and their strengths. Some parents are fine working with small group activities, some really do well one on one, some really prefer prep work kinds of activities. I would rather have families if rk with the children. And so some parents who home and have them do it at home so that it can maximize classroom time as really being instruct ional support. Parents also were involv ed as chaperones and assistants for other events. Teacher 3 said that parents at this school who work often look in advance for other, less frequent ways to volunteer. She said: depending really on the employment, a lot of them that are available really make a point of committing a certain amount of time A nd working parents especially this year, they want to know ahead for anything they could participate in terms of classroom e vents or field trips. You know I have people asking me months ahead, when is so and so? Because they want to be able to plan ahead for it.

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132 Parents who were unable to commit to a regular volunteering schedule wanted to be accessible when possible. For thing s like field trips or classwide activities, parents tried to be there, as Teacher 1 I of course invite them to be chaperones for field In first grade, we do an economics unit, Mexican restaurant. So I ask parents to come in and help when we were preparing for that Support staff X added to this by Parent volunteers, they come and have lunch with their kids, some parents on a regular basis. A lot of participation with field trips. Classroom activities. We have a lot of different t can come and be involved wit Overall, it seemed that a number of parents at this school participated as classroom volunteers on a regular basis, and f or those who were unable to participate as frequently, they were willing to help with special events. Some barriers to parent involvement at this school included crowding in the Because of the tra ining oriented nature of this school, teachers often had interns, pre interns, and observers in their classrooms. This often led to a high number of adults in the classroom, and teachers felt that it would be overwhelming to have parents in the classroom a s well. Teacher 1 discussed this issue: L ast year I had them [parents] be reading volunteers all throughout the year but this year I got pre interns, and so I kind of kicked the parents out because it was just too many adults. Because in first grade we get an assistant for reading and math. So it was myself, an assistant, and then two pre people. But so I had them for readi ng volunteers. Another reason that led to decreased parent involveme nt was waning eagerness once they did not feel needed in the classroom. Teach er 3 explained:

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133 them wh at to do is come and scope things out and get a feel for things. And a lot of parents that I saw even as regular volunteers in kindergarten, once they come in the room and I really focus a lot on kids being independent and responsible and self directed s need for them. And I feel like there are two things. It is because the kids are so good at working on their own and then they essentially feel like there is ecessity but it certainly adds another dimension to the instructional content. But I often find parents come summer one wa o a lot of eager participation here. But I do find it interesting how they tend to show up like, oh o Despite these barriers, however, support staff were satisfied with the level of parent involvement at this school. Support staff Z This is probably the best ave to track anybody down. They parents at this school appeared to be more involved than is typical. From asking questions to volunteering in the classroom to planning ahead so that t hey could participate in special events, parents at this school appeared to active and involved. Use of Data to Guide Decision Making school wide emphasis on data to drive dec ision making. This occurred at the individual teacher level as well as the systems level. Besides communicating with parents through and their intervention groups. Similar to teachers, school staff also believed that the use of data streamlined communication with parents, but that inconsistent use of data sometimes caused a communication breakdown. As discussed extensively in previous sections, teachers indicated th at they used data, especially data from the CBM sheet, as a framework for describing individual

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134 student progress. Support staff agreed that teachers and other staff use data in similar zed student through data. Related to emphasizing student progress and gaining a complete un derstanding when communicating with data, Support staff Z said: I mean they know when their child is struggling. They may not know exactly or what aspect of the subject area is are already aware there is a concern, so when the teachers are able to speak to those concerns specifically about data and show them, this is functioning to parents, Support staff X said: I think helping the parents see that not one of those tests or assessme nt assessment system as a whole. T happening with their children, especi about how one particular part of this battery of assessments being below ssue, understanding them as a reader. Overall there is a system wide support for using data to communicate student progress to parents. One reason for this school wide emphasis on communicating through data was the belief that data streamlines parent communication. Teachers also agreed with this, f requently suggesting that the data serves as their framework for discussions about the

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135 student. Support staff X spoke about the objectivity of data and how using data assists teachers in providing solid, trustworthy information about student progress. Supp ort staff X said: I think that teachers really feel like the data helps them make their case. You know, I remember being a new teacher and talking to parents about to teachers in being By speaking through data, teachers are able to rely on objectivity rather than professional guesswork to make decisions. This also provides them with better support when talking to parents about pro gress, since they do have emotional ties to the data and sometimes react negatively. Two of the primary ways, other than parent communication, that teachers and other school staff used data were to inform their core instruction and to guide decision makin g about individual students, particularly their need for additional intervention. In discussing how she used student data to inform her core instruction, Teacher 2 said: And it helped me strengthen my core. So it helped me understand what all children need reflective teacher and think about what all kids need and then I could figure out also then what my Tier 2s need mative. For Teacher 2 examining student data helped her to analyze the needs of her students. This was true for her whole class instruction as well as her instruction to her smaller, intervention groups. She also felt that the data assisted her in making more reliable decisions rather than those based on guesswork. Teacher 2 added: And then what I really loved is that I just, I really liked feeling more informed about my decision making. And so it was less gut

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136 informed. And I did c ome to find that I did thin k that it was very accurate For Teacher 3 collecting data helped her to keep tabs on struggling students and objectively determine student progress. She indic ated: I feel like more of my kids are at a higher level at the end of the year because I can really keep doing that, really the majority of my kids, a very high percentage by the end of the year are making on their targets. On the last assessment, I had one almost retained in kindergarten, and all my other intervention kids, a couple of them had missed one target, one missed two, and all th e rest met all the targets. By collecting regular data to guide decision making for her students, Teacher 3 felt very overall. In addition to informing core instruction, teachers indicated that they formulated their intervention groups based on data as well particularly when examining data during the grade level Student Success Team (SST) meetings Teacher 3 said in regards to we figure out [tho se small groups] on based on the scores She expressed that using data to guide the formulation of these groups helped her to assist students who she would not have typically identified as needing extra support. For her, that identification was often due to a fluency issue. Teacher 3 said: the classroom A nd the ones that seem sharp that have a lot of information that are just a little bit slow who are not meeting benchmarks who earlier in teaching kindergarten would not ha ve seemed to be red flagged. So you pick up, I feel like the DIBELS especially, helped us pick up kids to work with sooner, more intensively than we were able to d o prior to the DIBELS testing, w hich I would not have thought would have done that.

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137 Data help ed Teacher 3 to guide the group membership, especially for those students who were performing below grade level or at the cusp, but who were not significantly below grade level. The data helped her to identify those students early and provide them with add itional support. However, using data to guide commu nication and decision making was found to be tricky, especially when dat a we re used inconsistently. This often led to a c ommunication breakdown or allowed parents to receive mixed messages about their chi ld from different members of school staff. Support staff X indicated that this occurs because teachers sometimes disregard data when they are inconsistent with their observations, or because different teachers explain the data in different ways. In terms o f using other information in lieu of data, Support staff X said: I have seen instances where teachers will use data to explain away a parents and say they must have just been having a r eally bad day this day. ust one F or the teacher, when the data contradicts their expectations, sometimes th ere can be a communication breakdown, I guess I should say Teachers reported using data in combination with their own observations, each as a contradict their own personal b eliefs or expectations, it appears that it causes a significant miscommunication between themselves and the parent. In other cases, there are individual differences in the ways that teachers explain data to parents, which often leads parents with mixed mes sages form year to year. Support staff X seen it where parents get a mixed message depending on who they sit with, and kind of

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138 Parents also reported sometimes receiving mixed messages from the sc hool Support staff X Parent I explain ed her frustration with this situation: great Yeah because just during the year, it would be like when you would year to get there. I want t o be above where he needs to be. Parent I progress, based on her own ob servations and experiences, and the a ctual data. This led to frustration on the part of the parents because she was not able to fully understand how her child was performing in the classroom. In another instance, Parent F was ces in the way that Which, you may or may not be interested to know, is a concern because we had in kindergarten, Ms. C and I had one parent teacher conference with her m idyear and she did some more testing with P, same format. A nd go ahead and push her with that group and s h e kind of went over the But then when I learned at the information session that those numbers actually meant even though they wanted her at a 12 and she was at a 12, that meant she was minimally achieving. So I had in my head in kindergarten, is going to be advanced! s lipping by.

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139 Again, the lack of continuity in describing data led to a negative emotional reaction by this parent becaus e she was given a description of the data by two different people in two totally different ways. Value of Professional Teamwork The teachers and other school staff at DRS also prided themselves on the value they placed on collaboration among each other. In particular, this was described in terms of participating dur ing individual student meetings and assisting each other in uncomfortable situations. Again, professional teamwork is a major aspect of DRS school wide culture that impacts the ways in which pa rents experience data and decision making. When parents interacted with school staff, particularly during meetings regarding their individual child, a number of school based professionals attended. That is, parents were usually interacting with a team of s progress. Two primary examples of this occurred during parent teacher conferences and Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) meetings. Support staff Z discussed how she was often involved during parent teacher conferences: Parent conferences. After every CBM went home, the teachers schedule a parents that the student is in T ier 3 there are some definite concerns either because of being new to the system or because of the pace of the growth of in he re. An d how it matches up with Tier 2 and T ier 1 Because she was another teacher who instructed the child and collected data about the parents make sense of the data, and answer any questions. Because she worked

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140 closel y with a number of students, Support staff Z also participated in IEP mee tings, as she described here: participant to ta er 3 because the OT and the language specialist are doing the goals. With this particular student, however, we did do academic goals along with the language goals because and described tho se to the parents. Support staff Z situations, a team of several staff members, rather than one individual, frequently interac ted with parents during decision making. Another element of professional teamwork stemmed from helping each other in difficult situations when interacting with parents. This was often the case when teachers asked for assistance in explaining poor student p rogress or discussing other serious issues such as behavior difficulties or possible retention. Having another school staff member there helped teachers feel less nervous and also protected the important parent teacher relationship. Sometimes, support staf f assisted teachers in explaining data to parents. The goal of the support staff member was to help the parent gain a clear and comprehensive difficulty with this, the sup port staff either helped to train the teacher or assisted the teacher in person at the meeting with the p arent. Support staff X said: same page. But most o an you please come a I have also consulted from the bac k.

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141 So giving teachers the words they need to be able to talk to parents about it The first solution to this issue was to consult with the teacher and give them ideas about ways to explain the data. Support staff Y agreed that collaborating the with teach er was Most of the time, going to the teacher first and saying, listen this is what we gotta do and we gotta make sure that we have this conference with them. Because a lot of the time teachers are feeling attacked. And so there ha s to be some talking down before we get into that meeting If personal collaboration and consultation was not successful or if the situation was a very difficult one, then the support staff often jumped in to help out the teachers at the meetings. Support staff X indicated: I find that when data is not up to par, the teachers rely on me to come in and do the explaining for them. Sometimes they like that because they feel like it comes from a different authority, you know, with the parent. Sometimes they ju st feel nervous, especially new teachers feel very nervous about being able to explain it When interacting with parents directly, some teachers felt uncomfortable explaining the data, especially when a student was not making progress. In those cases, the support staff members willingly assisted teachers in those situations to help the parents In other situations, teachers felt uncomfortable because of the topic of conversation, such as poor behavior or retention. Support staff were also asked to assist with these meetings so that teachers were able to maintain their positive relationships with the parents. For severe behavioral difficulties, Support staff Y was the person who int I get

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142 whatever needs to happen. And I always c true for severe academic cases, such as in possible retention situations. Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, teachers did not want to be the one to explain the situation. But the really difficult ones. You know, the really hard ones. The retention been involved in a Teachers really find that conversation very uncomfortable. in that conversation at all. They want somebody else to come and say it, especially when, again, the child is doing quite well and the parents feel like they want him retained or her tend to get into our most stick iest situations around decision making roles. the parents requesting rete ntion when there is not a data indicated need When the topic is a difficult one to address with parents, the support staff assisted teachers and took on the primary role of explaining that. Support staff X said that her reason for doing that is to protect the parent You know, role to protect the relationship of the teacher is for me to go ahead and take the heat and let the teacher maintain the relationship that needs to be there for the sake of the child Support staff X understood the significance of maintaining a positive relationship between the parent and teacher and unde rstood that a conversation topic such as retention could have a negatie impact on that relationship. So, she was comfortable coming in as an outside voice to discuss that possibility. Description of RtI Provided to Parents and Staff A final element of the and decision making is the information about RtI given to staff as well as parents. For

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143 parents in this study, it seemed that there was a disconnect between what school staff and parents understood about RtI. That is, although parents expressed a general understanding about the intervention support that was provided to their student, they did not know any of the language associated with RtI and sometimes were not informed when their child was moving through tiered instruction. Support staff indicated that teachers followed a typical protocol during their grade level standards as well as the support provided to them in the classroom. Support staff Z said: sitting with the parents and going through their progress report cards, monitoring and how their kid is working toward those grade level standards, where Support staff Y was also perceptive about the common format for confer ences, agreeing support: communicating where the child And I think t And I think they are also communicating how the kid is responding to what they have done I think that it depends on the teacher, again. But I think they are very good at describing what they have done, how the kid is responding, and what the school is going t o do now to try to help the kid. Support staff Z also indicated, however, that parents are also informed by the teacher receiving of tiered instruc tion and a description about the RtI process. She noted:

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144 T alking to them initially about T ier 2 because it happens in the where the first discussions start with T ier 3 The in T ier 3 at the end of the school year, they typically star t the beginning of the year in T ier 3 so the parents are already familiar with the process. If the T ier 3 so again the pa rents are already familiar with the process. For those students who come in t hat are going to fall into the T ier 3 category by October, the teachers are having and what they should expect if th eir kids are not doing well They describe the RtI process about how we have the core instruction and that they w ork with them in small groups if th or reading, so we call that Ti er 2 And then addit ional support is availab le for T ier 3 We try to put it in very easy, laymans terms For parents in this study, however, this was not the case. While some parents understood that their child was not meeting grade level expectations and was getting extra support for that, they did not mention tiered intervention or the RtI process. Parent A Teacher 1 anything different is happening for him except being put into her individual read ing group when they are doing their practicing with an adult Parent F also said: Well for reading, Teacher 1 splits the room into different reading levels. I kind of picturing that she has three di fferent reading levels and P is probably with th e group that needs a little e xtra help and I think Teacher 1 has assigned herself to that group most days. And then parents and/or the interns or, I think Mr. D is a reading teacher takes the middle and the high l evel readers. So just Teacher 1 herself wo rking with P and the one or two other students in that groupi While these parents had a general understanding that their child was receiving some sort of extra support, they did not know specific details and did not mention th e RtI process or tiered intervention.

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145 For other parents, they were not appropriately informed about the intervention services that their child was receiving. Parent E for example, did not understand the language on the CBM sheet that indicated that her c hild was receiving additional support. She said: indergarten CBM sheet). This was after her kindergarten, they put this here (says KP als ) and nobody explained to me what this was. And it w year when I was talking to the guidance counselor, and she said ell is she Tier 1, is she Tier 2 ? And I said, Oh I remember seeing Tier 2 And she said Oh, well that means she must be getting in classroom help. like okay And so y ou know. Okay so X is not taking her out? And I say, No she falls in a gray area, you know. Is she Tier 1/Tier 2 ? Ohhh I saw that! in nd have been nice to know in the first quarter because she would have had, I would t hink Yeah, nobody told me. I had no idea. And I still does that mean? And was that instruction for the first know. While Parent E knew that her ch ild was participating in a small group, she did not understand the language that was being used to communicate this or what the RtI process even meant for her child. In other cases, parents did not understand the interventions that their child was particip ating in. For Parent I she thought that her been receiving Tier 3 instruction all year and was being pulled out of class. She explained: Mmhmm, in a different for you know? She just hands out the paperwork and when she ge ts to him she hands his and keep going. So I really like that because he had an issue when he was in kindergarten when they would pull him to the back of the class and d

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146 wrong with me. I get pulled other people are doing. So that was also another major issue for him. So D uring the member checks with participants almost a year after the initial interviews, each parent indicated that they did not know what RtI was or what it meant for their child. A disconnect exists between what support staff believe is happening in terms of communication with parents about RtI and what is actually happening. It seems that, in an attempt to communicate with parents in a clear and comprehensible fashion, teachers leave out information that they think will be too difficult for parents to understand. In this case, much of that information centered around the RtI proc ess, speci fically language related to RtI as well as a general description of RtI a nd what impact RtI has on individual students.

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147 CHAPTER 4 SUMMARY AND DISCUSSI ON Summary Research has indicated that the benefits of parental involvement include incr eased levels of student academic motivation and achievemen t, the establishment of a trusting relationsh ip between the school and home, and a higher level of parent reported satisfaction with the educational decision making process (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001 ; Norris, 1999; Stancin, Reuter, Dunn, & Bickett, 1984 ; Steere, Pancsofar, Wood, & Hecimovic, 1990; Watkins, 1997). However, schools still struggle with facilitating parent participation in meaningful ways (Burns & Gibbons, 2008). Two roles that parent s often and being involved in decision understanding about academic progress information they re school (Bra ntlinger, 1987; Harniss, Epstein, Bursuck, Nelson, & Jayanthi, 2001; Harry, 1992; Waltman & Frisbie, 1994) and parent participation during educational decision making (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Harry, 1992; McNamara, Telzrow, & DeLamatre, 1999; Vaughn, 198 8). However, few studies to date have examined such roles of parental involvement within a Response to Intervention (RtI) process RtI is a multi tiered service delivery method that is currently being implemented in public schools. The primary goal for an RtI approach is to improve instruction for all test identification in the school system (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). Implementation of RtI processes will ideally address lim itations of current practices, including enhancing parental involvement within the school system (Reschly et al., 2007). In fact,

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148 researchers assert that conceived Reschly et al., 2007, p 153). Such key places for parental involvement that align with RtI processes include improved home school communication through the use of ongoing curriculum based measurement, the opportunity to be actively involved in prevention/early intervention acti vities, and participation in the collaborative problem solving process (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Gresham, 2007; Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007 ; Reschly et al., 2007) Given the recency of schools implementing Rt I processes, few studies have investigated understanding of academic progress information and participation in decision making in a school using this service delivery framework. Thus, this study focused on how parents develop an understanding of academic progress information and how they participate in educ ational decision making during one Data analysis produced four major themes regarding the ways in which parents and numerous opp In summary, a t DRS parents we re afforded a variety of opportunities to interact with teachers and other school staff. This included formal interactions, such as during parent tea cher conferences and through use of a CBM data sheet, as well as informal interactions, such as phone calls emails, and seeing each other before and after school. Through these interactions, parents were able to gain a well rounded understanding about how their child was progressing in school and what they could do to help at home. These interactions also

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149 allo wed them to ask questions, express concerns, and understand what was happening in the classroom. It was revealed that a majority of conversations centered on the assessment intervention link. This occurred for several reasons, including that teachers infor med parents what they were doing to help their struggling child in the classroom and because all parents expressed a desire to help their child at home. It was also discovered that p someone who is familia r with academic progress data for a number of reasons. For parents in this study, this occurred most frequently during direct contact with the teacher and secondarily with other sources of social support. Having face to face conversations about the data al lowed parents to better make sense of unfamiliar educational terms, communica In fact, parents seemed to rely on this contact to make sense of parent friendly ways. In addition, by interacting consistently and meaningfully with their about their description of the ir teacher aca source of valuable information throughout their patterns of communication, particularly in terms of ways to support learning at home Finally, parents developed an understand

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150 emerged from combining the academic data they had received from the school with their own observations and teacher observations. Although the CBM was an important progress, parents suggested that they used multiple sources of information to make of information were the data from the CBM sheet in combination with parent and teacher observations as well as experience with data from their other children Furthermore, w hen asked to describe their successes. However, when interpreting the academic progress information, s achievement while emphasizing their positive characteristics. demic progress information, parents still expressed a number of unmet needs. In par difficulties as early as possible, which some did not feel happened. Parents also wanted to gain a better understanding of CBM, including the skills measured and the classroom assessment schedule. No t surprisingly, parents also desired more information regarding how to support learning at home Overall, parents wanted their concerns to be listened to, and when that occurred, most parents seemed satisfied with the information that they were given regar In terms of parent participation in decision making for their children, three interactive and connected themes were revealed: 1) determining their level of

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151 experiences within the parent teacher dyad; and 3) interacting with existing components of the school system. em a better idea of how much they needed to be involved in educational decision making for their child. Parents who involved in decision making. ducational decision making was also influenced by experiences within the parent teacher dyad. Specifically, parents identified information decision making within the rela the main responsibilities that parents discussed. In terms of working collaboratively on school based decision making team. To fulfill their role on this team, parents felt obligated to help their child at home. At the school level, there were a variety of factors unique to this particular school that likely impacted the ways in which parents developed an understanding of data and participated in educational decision making. Such factors included the historically high level of parental involvement, the school wide emphasis on dat a to make decisions, the value that teachers and other school staff place on professional collaboration, and the description of RtI that was provided to school staff and parents.

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152 Discussion Alignment with Suggested Parental Roles During RtI In examining p olitical/legal initiatives in light of RtI implementation, researchers have postulated that there are several points at that intersection that can lead to improved parental involvement practices. Such components include the involvement of parents from earl ation of educational decisions; the delivery of comprehensive information regarding the general education curriculum, the assessme nt process, and state standards; ongoing home school communication rega rding student a cademic progress; c ollaboration dur ing educational decision making; par ent training; and professional development regarding parental involvement in schools ( Epstein, 2005 ; Landsverk, 2004; U.S. Department of Education, 2003 ; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). Thi s study examined aspects of three of these elements (delivery of comprehensive information, ongoing home school communication, and collaboration). Previous research has addressed these elements, but few studies have specifically exam ined these elements in light of focus on RtI implementation. In terms of the delivery of comprehensive information, within an RtI process, parents ideally should be able to receive information about the academic material their child is le (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). Much of the assessm ent information is tied to the riculum based measurement, o r CBM). CBM can be used to inform parents regarding what their child is learning and how their learning is being measured. Providing them with CBM information also assists in joint monitoring (at school and home) of student academic progress and empowers parents with tools to

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153 become involv ed in interventions (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). Furthermore, curriculum based expectations can be explained in graphic format, therefore providing parents with a visual representation of expected standards in comparison to student a chievement which will likely assist them in better understanding academic progress (Deno, 2003). Similarly, ongoing and frequent home school communication is another element of parent involvement that is discussed at the intersection of poli tical/legal initiatives and the RtI process. According to NCLB and IDEA teachers are require d to communicate progress (Epstein, 2005). This communication needs to occur in written and face to face formats. In addition according to IDEA, schools are required to provide parents an RtI process this could include universal screening information, curriculum bas ed measurements, and progress monitoring data. According to NCLB, schools must provide this information on a regular and continuous basis, so assessment should be dynamic and ongoing (NCLB, 2002; Reschly et al., 2007). School staff also must be reasonably available to meet with (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). Parents and teachers in this study suggested that CBM data were the most frequent sources o f information collected on students. In fact, teachers indicated that the CBM reporting sheet was actually the framework for communicating with parents way that students wer e being assessed; however, they still desired additional

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154 information regarding CBM. They saw that the information on the CBM sheet was valuable because in terms of the critical skill areas of reading and provide d a well rounded picture about their ch achievement. Parents also saw the information as a source of ideas for how to support learning at home But, many parents did not know how to make sense of the data on their own. And, e ven though direct contact and conferences wit increased their immediate understanding of the data, parents noted they often could not remem ber what many of the skills meant or how they were measured when later reviewing the CBM sheet at home So, while parents believed that CBM provided valuable information a sense of that information on their own. Harry (1992) argued that communicating with difficulties an d the tools by which they are being assessed. Teachers in this study typically paired written communication with a face to face meeting or verbal explanation. Parents appreciated this, indicating that it would be impossible to understand the data based on the CBM sheet alone. Many parents had questions about the c ritical skill areas of reading as measured by the CBM sheet as well as what they could do with that information to help their child at home. Thus, it seems that CBM is a valuable tool for joint monitoring of student progress and can provide valuable information regarding ways to support learning at home but schools must keep in mind that parents need direct and frequent contact with teachers and other school professionals to understand the data. Without that contact, p arents feel lost, whether they are attempting to

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155 understand report card data, technical information in psychoeducational reports, or curriculum based measurement. Furthermore, a major concern that parents expressed in previous studies was that they heard too late (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Jayanthi et al., 1992, as cited in Harniss et al., 2001). Some parents in this study expressed the same sentiment, despite the frequency with which CBM data was collected on a number of students. Ongoing assessment was occurring using CBM as recommended by education al initiatives, but many parents still felt less informed than T hey reported not receiv ing information about their formance on progress monitoring assessments. In addition parents were mostly satisfied with the availability of teachers and other school staff in providing While they were satisfied with the ongoing comm unication, some parents spoke about the desire to be listened to in conversations about their child s educational needs and performance They wanted to be a valuable contributor wanted their concerns to be heard and taken into account. When this occurred, parents were trusting of school staff an d satisfied studies (Do wd Eagle, 2007). When parents did not fe el like a valued team me mber and did not b elieve that their voices were heard they felt helpless or frustrated. Finally, collaboration is an important element of parent involvement that is discuss ed in political/legal initiatives in light of RtI implementation. According to these initiatives, parents must be afforded the opportunity to be a part of all educational decisions made about their child (Esquivel, Ryan, & Bonner, 2008). To be involved, th ey

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156 must first be informed, which is the topic of prior sections. According to NCLB and IDEA, i lvement in educational decision making (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005). This is not specifically defined, but is based on the assum ption s that pare nts have the opportunity to be collaborative, participating membe r s at any meeting involving their and t hat reasonable accommodations are made to enhance parental involvement (Cortiella, 2006 ; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2005 ). For Burns and Gibbons (2008), being a collaborative, participating member includes the ability to evaluate and make suggestions regarding their chil as well as having the ability to be a part of the collaborative problem solving team in whatever capacity they prefer. This could range from receiving information to participating in interventions to evaluating intervention effectiveness (Burns & Gibbons, 2008). Parents in this study expressed a desire for collaboration with school staff and to Most parents felt that they could not sufficiently part icipate in educational decision making for their child without fully understanding their academic progress, which is consisent with past research (Barton et al., 1984). decision ma king abo ut their child are inextricably linked For many parents in this study, involvement was defined partially as giving and seeking out information about their child, a markedly passive role as discovered in previous research ( Barton, et al. 1984 ; Lusthaus et al., 1981) Parents identified asking questions or seeking additional

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157 individua l data, and how to support learning at home One way tha t every p arent in this study desired active involve ment though, was through support for learning at home Hen derson and Berla (1994) discovered that home support for learning is becoming a more prevalent role that parents wish to tak education, and this was confirmed by parents in this study. Every parent repor ted that they were trying to help their child with academics at home and wanted additional informati on about how to assist their child. suggested that they were aware of only a few parents who were actively engaged in supporting learning at home. For parents who were involved in more formal decision making procedures, such as re lated to grade retention, they often expressed that the decision was not their s. It was presented as a school based decision and one that parents did not perceive as hav ing much say in the matter. However, parents expressed a high level of satisfaction with the decisions despite a low level of involvement in decision making which is similar to the res ults of Fish For parents in this study, they felt t hat the decision was generally beneficial for their child in the long run, so they were able to reflect about th eir minimal participation in hindsight. This likely had an impact on their positive outlook about decision making. In fact, parents suggested that they would have been much more negative and critical about their low level of involvement if they had been in terviewed immediately after the decision was made. Despite this high level of satisfaction regardless of a low level of involvement in

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158 some form al decisions, researchers suggest that parents should be valued collaborators In terms of active support for learning at home by employing similar intervention strategies at school and home, the teacher and parent shared goals and expectations (Sherida n & Kratochwill, 2008). And, collaboration can improve home school communication and decision making, as Mundschenk and Foley (1994) concluded that believing in collaboration allows for parents and teachers to trust and respect each other, which will likel y reduce future miscommunic ation Professional Development for Teachers and School Staff In improving the ways that schools interact with and involve parents, it is imperative to provide professional development opportunities regarding home school interac tions. As parents in this study indicated, they relied on teachers to provide them with valuable information and involve them in decision making opportunities. That establish involved in their education. Similarly, Anderson and Minke (2007) emphasized the importance of the parent teacher relationship, as specific invitations from teachers asking paren ts to be involved in decision mak actual involvement in decision making Overall, the parent teacher relationship cannot be emphasized enough in understanding how parents experience data and decision making at their child other school staff understand how to involve parents in effective and meaningful ways. A major co ntributor to wa s the way in which a teacher describe d their ch

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159 effective communication strategies to better improve the ways that they interact with parents on a day to day basis (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001). Such strategies include: begin all interacti ons with a positive message, convey to parents that their input is invaluable and that everyone wants to work as a team, listen while the parents are ld (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001, p.194). Parents in th is study e xpressed repeatedly that they wanted their concerns to be heard, that they wanted to wanted to be active ly involved by helping their child at home. On a similar note, parents emphasized their strengths. It would seem that utilizing the aforementioned communication strategies would inc rease the likelihood that parents are satisfied with are involved in decision making. Parents in this study also emphasized the notion of trust when building a relatio By interacting consistently and meaningfully with judgment about their description of the paren t a source of emotional support for them while they developed an understanding of their rther more, parents view ed r as a source of valuable information particular ly in terms of strategies for supporting learning at home professional opinions once they were able to

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160 establish consistent communicatio n patterns and to have opportu nities to understand the teacher s perspective Adams and Christenson (2000) also described t rust as an important factor in the parent teacher relati onship when considering parental involvement. In fact, they discovered that the quality of parent teacher interactions was a better indicator of parental involvement than the frequency of interactions (Adams & Christenson, 2000) Again, the most effective communication strategies are those that allow parents to be heard and assure them that they are a valued member of their based team. Establishing open and continuous lines of communication with parents allows them to trust teachers and other school staff because they are recognized as eam. Another important profe ssional development activity to improv e upon current home school communication practices is to encourage school staff to examine their own perceptions about parental involvement. Previous research has suggested that p rof ed parental involvement during educational decision making. In these studies, school professionals indicated that parents should only gather and present information about the student during the decision making process (Goldstein et al., 1980; Lusthaus et al., 1981) and that parents do not have the necessary expertise to participate in the process (Gilliam & Coleman, 1981). Therefore, professionals would prefer that parents wait passively as decisions are Miller, & Griffin, 1986, p. 158). Similarly, Anderson and Minke (2007) indicated that many sc hool

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161 visibility at school. However, most parental involvement acti vities occur at home an d are invisible to school staff (Anderson & Minke, 2007). Teachers in this study indicated that they knew of only a few parents who were actively e ngaged in working with their children at home, despite the fact that each parent indicated throughout this study that they were par ticipating in activities at home to support learning This pre judgment likely had an impact o n the ways in which t eachers interacted with parents that they perceptions and the ways in which they impact professional prac tices hopefully will allow school staff to re examin e the ways in which they think about parents in the school setting. Preparing Parents In order to have a successful family school partnership that encourages parental rol e. In ma n y cases, this requires education and skills and to empower them to be engaged. However, it is important to note that ow we support families to enhance learning at home is different than home support for l That is, schools should play a cooperative role in suppo rt ing parents to be educators at home. One way to do this is to g ive parents strategies to be proactive educators at home before their child begins to ex perience failure (Bempechat, Graham, & Jimenez 1999) Parents in this study expressed similar desires: they wanted to be informed of difficulties early on and wanted to know ways to help alleviate those difficulties, particularly through supporting learni ng at home Parents stated that they simply wanted information Armed with strategies that

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162 make a difference in their education. Without such information, parents felt helpless and One optio n that parents in this study were offer ed was a school wide information session about CBM. Accord ing to the par ents who attended the session, a relatively small number of parents were in attendance. Even those who attended did not seem to understand the goal behind the information session, but they did learn more about the types of assessments that their children were taking. Information sessions and workshops can be one way of provid ing valuable knowledge and materials to parents. Christenson & Sheridan (2001) suggested that schools o ffer a variety of parent training opportunities with a variety of ways to disperse information This includes regularly scheduled trai ning sessions, informational meetings, and parent to parent support groups. Christenson & Sheridan (2001) recommended both formal and informal opportunities for engaging with parents, as well as providing them with information in a variety of ways. This in cludes phone calls, pri nted material, and home visits. Christenson & Sheridan (2001) also emphasized the importance of providing this information in a user friendly format. This idea was also promoted by teachers and school staff in this study, who desired to provide information in a clear an d understandable way this study, such sessions could focus on understanding how CBM data are used, discussing the assessment schedule, and demonstra ting effective strategies to support specific academic difficulties at home Additionally parents could share information to help educate other parents about these topics. In this study, parents indicated that they often talked to each other about the ongoing events and issues in their teachers, and

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163 strategies f or home. Christenson & Sheridan (2001) recommended providing thi s information through formal ly established parent groups at school. Nominated parents could act as ambassadors to other parents in providing desired information to a larger group of parents. All in all, there are a v ariety of ways that schools can assist in effective decision makers in conjunction with school staff. Tiered Model for Working with Parents Systemically Although research stu dies have not investigated the effects of a system wide tiered model for parental involvement, it seems that this could be effective, based on the results of the present study and previous studies that have b een discussed. Christenson (2010 ) emphas ized the components of RtI that align well with meaningful parental involvement: early and ongoing information sharing and collaborative problem solving. She suggested that the empirical and theoretial bas is for RtI naturally aligns with effective par ental involvement practices. According to Christenson (2010), schools for studen ts based on specific educational need s el (Tier 1 ), schools should dem onstra te effective home school communication practices with all parents. This includes utilizing successful communication strategies with each parent as well as establishing a system wide protocol for communicating with parents. An example of a system wide protocol was in place at the school used for the present study Christe nso n (2010) further recommended formulating this system wide protocol after conducting a needs assessment with parents a bout their involvement practices.

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164 She also empasized the importanc e of re visi ting the protocol p eriodically to determine if th e system wa s meeting the needs of the ma jority of parents. And if not, the n additional assessments would be conducted to tailor the protocol. A school wide communication protocol will likely look different in every setting, but based on the results of this study, would be essential in instilling open lines of communication with parents and clearing up common points of misinfor mation Parents in this study indicated that they appreciated direct, face to face contact with teachers when receiving the CBM sheet, but that this occurred only one time in the fall. They also that they often asked questions about the critical skill areas of reading as measured by CBM They also wanted to know specific strategies about how to support their c learning at h ome in particul ar skill s. Furthermore, parents expressed a general RtI and indicated that they did not know what RtI was or what it meant for their child. In a practical sense, establ ishing a sound, effective school wide communication protocol might incorporate all of these elements. In the beginning of the school year, all parents could be invited to a grade level meeting to learn about tiered intervention services, the RtI process and CBM. While teachers and scho ol staff coul d introduce parents to t he vocabulary of RtI (e.g., multi tiered intervention, progress monitoring), they could also present the information in a clear, parent friendly format while encouraging parents to ask questions. At this meeting, all parents could receive a handbook or we b based resources that provides useful information about RtI and answers common questions. Parents could also be pr ovided wit h information that describes specific strategies to

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165 help their child at home in the five major areas of reading. Th is information as well as sample questions that assess reading skills via CBM, could also be posted on the As a result, at the fall parent teacher conference, r having learned background information about RtI processes. Common suggestions for supporting learning at home could also be provided on the back of the CBM sheet. Another major elemen t of establishing a school wide c ommunication protocol would be prepari ng teachers to use honest, effective communication strategies. Teachers in this study often focused on the chil academic However, based on the data alone. Support staff indicated that teachers often needed consultation or other forms of assistance to communicate data were sugges tive of significant difficulties. Teachers seemed to struggle with balancing how to build a positive and trusting relationship with parents while being strai ghtforward and honest about th e sometimes received mixe progress over t he years. A comprehensive communication prot ocol would al so contain prepar ation for teachers and support staff about how to communicate honestly with parents in difficult or uncomfortable situations. This would be especial ly important for teachers, given their day to day communication with parents in formal and informal ways. At the targeted level (Tier 2 ), schools would respond to parents with the most specific needs. For parents in this study, this could be exemplified by par ents who

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166 expressed a need for education identifie d priorities to (p.22) That is, teachers and school staff lis conce rns, hear their voices, and collaborate to effectively support parents in ways that the parents find valuable. Again, some parents simply require additional consultation in educational dec ision making In a practical sense, it would be important to assess the year to deter mine who would benefit from additional consul tation or information. This could be completed by asking parents to complete a parent information/involvement survey or conducting small focus groups after the gaps in the ir practices and better plan for meaningful parent involvement. In addition, if a group of parents have common needs, schools can be creative in answering their questions. At the Tier 2 level, it would be possible to integrate the use of parent to parent s upport groups to answer questions about ways to support learning at home or how to explain RtI in clear ways. Vol unteer parents who were educat ed about RtI could also be responsible for answering questions through the use of an online dropbox system or for directing questions to appropriate school staff. Finally at the intensive level (Tier 3 ), parents who need concentrated and ongoing support are receiving the most time and services from schools. Much like the RtI process, the number of parents who should require this amount of support is small. As Christenson (2010) states:

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167 persistent outreach, ongoing sharing of information and resources, and solution oriented problem solving directed toward a genuine interest in improving the child's success and school experience are necessary to engage parents for some students. We have also learned that ongoing support reflected in trusting relationships empower disengaged parents; they begin to believe in their capacity to make a difference (p. 23). Some p arents req uire direct and frequent support from school staff to be able to making. In this s tudy, parents receiving Tier 3 services might be those parents whose students are rec eiving Tier 3 academic intervention. And, as with the Tier 2 support, would be most helpf ul for them t o understand meaningfu lly involved in decision making. Again, this model has not been examined fully, but pieces of the system wide tiered model make sense, especially for school staff that want to establish a school wide process for engaging parents in meaningful and innovat ive ways. Limitations and Future Research Because this study was exploratory in nature and because research on its topic is scant, the need for future research in this area remains. While this study provides an in depth examination of the parental involv process, it will be beneficial to gain a more comprehensive understanding about these practices to strengthen research based practices in schools nationwide. In addition, despite the rigorous methods that were employ ed to insure that this study was sound and its data analyz e d reliably, there were limitations to the study. First while the participants provided rich, in depth information regarding their experiences during the RtI process, one cannot overlook their demo graphic similarities.

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168 While the school population is racially/ethnically and economically diverse, the majority of the parent participants in this study were markedly similar. All were female and mothers. All had a high school education and at least some s ort of postsecondary work. Most were Caucasian, and only one parent was African American. However, despite this high degree of similarity, parents presented a wide range of perspectives that are presented in the findings. The parents in this study also rep orted perspectives and experiences that were similar to results of previous research, such as wanting academic education, and expressing a high level of satisfaction when they were involved early in probem solving for their child ( Childre & Chambers, 2005 ; Dowd Eagle, 2007; Henderson & Berla, 1994). Second DRS is a school setting that is unique to most public schools. As discussed previously, it has close ties with a local university Thus, the faculty pride themselves on implementing innovative and research based practices in the classroom and at the school wide level. Funding for research projects often comes from outside grants or is initiated at the university leve l, so the ability to implement research projects at this school is different than most. There is also a high sense of collaboration among its faculty, who are also more highly educated than typical school faculty as m any hold advanced degrees. It is import ant to understand these characteristics because they set DRS apart from other schools and also situate the unique perspectives of the participants in this study. Furthermore, this school had gradually implemented component s of RtI well before the mandated implementation of the proce ss. Thus, teachers and staff received professional development training prior to implementation

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169 and also gained exposure to the theoretical relevance of multi tiered intervention before ssrooms. Clearly, support and buy in of RtI was much different at this school than the typical school, which likely impacted the results of this study. This qualitative research study provided an exploratory and in depth look at involvement within with data and decision making during this process. Few studies examined traditional h ome school communication and decision making practices, they have not been examined within this newly required service delivery framework. Due to the lack of research in this area and the fact that RtI is required to be implemented in public schools, it is imperative to continue to build on the current, yet small research base. s s. The setting is unique in that it is a developmental research school with strong connections to the loc al university. These ties allow for rare opportunities for funding and research based practices that are sometimes not afforded to the typical school. In addition, because of the nature of the school and enrollment practices, parents at this school are typ ically more involved in the day to day events of the school than in many other schools. Therefore, it would be helpful for future research to e xamine other more typical public schools implementing RtI processes to explore whether similarities in parental experiences exist between settings.

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170 It also would be informative for future research to examine what occurs during decision making meetings with parents present. In this study, parents and teachers provided parallel explanation s about the purpose goals and outline of parent tea cher conferences. P arents and teachers also described student progress in remarkably similar ways. However, it would be important to research these events to better participation. It would also allow for long term observation of parents as part of the decision making team. The development of that team over time, in particular the roles that parents play, would be valuable to investigate. In addition, partic ipating te achers in this study we re highly educated and experienced in the field. Their experiences with RtI ranged from postgraduate classwork to professional development classes to personal research. They were highly motivated to be successful in implementing elem ents of the RtI process within their classrooms and also expressed confidence regarding these techniques. However, it would be interesting to see how new er, less experienced teachers view their roles within RtI and consequently interact with parents throug hout the process. And, for those teachers who have been involved in professional development regarding RtI or parental involvement practices, it would be important to look at the effectiveness of teacher training on parent satisfaction with home school com munication patterns about academic progress data Similarly, if parents are afford ed the opportunity to gain a better understanding about the RtI pr ocess, including CBM data and ways to participate in the problem solving process, their opinions should be i nvestigated. For example, what factors assist parents in becoming more involved with collaboration

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171 parents know about RtI? What resources do other schools use to facilitate teacher parent communication or help par ents understand the RtI process? Overal l, this study provides an with data and decision making in an RtI process. The results of this study will be useful esi res throughout the RtI process; h owever, it is important for future research to expand upon this topic so that educational professionals can continue to improve upon their practices in working with parents in innovative and meaningful ways.

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172 APPENDIX A LET TERS OF INFORMED CON SENT Parent Form November 2010 Dear Parent: The purpose of this letter is to obtain your consent for participation in a qualitative research study that will take place during the Spring 2011 semester. The goal of this study is to exam making for their child throughout the Response to Intervention (RtI) process. If you agree to participate, yo u will be involved in the following: Interviews: Initial interviews will be conducted with individual participants in January or February. Additional interviews will likely occur near the middle and end of the semester, and will be scheduled with the inte rviewer based on participant availability. Each interview will last approximately 30 90 minutes and will be audiotaped and transcribed. All identifying information will be removed from the transcriptions. Observations: The researcher will be present at in formal and formal educational decision making meetings for your child. The purpose of this is to take notes about the RtI process and to provide information for future interview questions. Follow up/feedback: The interviewer will send individual transcrip tions to participants. This is done so that the participants can check the accuracy of the statements made and make any comments about the data. Your participation in this project is completely voluntary. The primary benefit in participating is that you w ill be able to provide helpful insight into future practices of schools regarding parent involvement practices within an RtI framework. I do not perceive that there are any risks in your participation. However, you are free to withdraw from the study at an y time. You will not be provided compensation for your participation. Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Please sign and return this letter. A second copy of the letter is provided to you for your records. If you have any questions about the study or the procedures for data collection, please contact the investigator, Susan Craft (859 380 7060 or susancraft@ufl.edu ) or the faculty supervisor, Nancy Waldron, Ph.D. (352 273 4284 or waldron@coe.ufl.edu ). If you have any questions about the rights of research participants in this study, please contact the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (UFIRB02 Office, Box 112250, Universi ty of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250 or 352 392 0433).

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173 Sincerely, Susan A. Craft Graduate Student, University of Florida School Psychology Program _________________________________________________________ I have read the procedure described abo ve. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: _____________________________________ Date: _____________

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174 Teacher Form November 2010 Dear Teacher: The purpose of this letter is to obtai n your consent for participation in a qualitative research study that will take place during the Spring 2011 semester. The goal of this heir participation in educational decision making for their child throughout the Response to Intervention (RtI) process. If you agree to participate, you will be involved in the following: Interviews: Initial interviews will be conducted with individual p articipants in January or February. Additional interviews will likely occur near the middle and end of the semester, and will be scheduled with the interviewer based on participant availability. Each interview will last approximately 30 90 minutes and will be audiotaped and transcribed. All identifying information will be removed from the transcriptions. Observations: The researcher will be present at informal and formal educational decision making meetings for the student in your classroom. The purpose of this is to take notes about the RtI process and to provide information for future interview questions. Follow up/feedback: The interviewer will send individual transcriptions to participants. This is done so that the participants can check the accuracy o f the statements made and make any comments about the data. Your participation in this project is completely voluntary. The primary benefit in participating is that you will be able to provide helpful insight into future practices of schools regarding par ent involvement practices within an RtI framework. I do not perceive that there are any risks in your participation. However, you are free to withdraw from the study at any time. You will not be provided compensation for your participation. Your identity w ill be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Please sign and return this letter. A second copy of the letter is provided to you for your records. If you have any questions about the study or the procedures for data collection, please contact the investigator, Susan Craft (859 380 7060 or susancraft@ufl.edu ) or the faculty supervisor, Nancy Waldron, Ph.D. (352 273 4284 or waldron@coe.ufl.edu ). If you have any q uestions about the rights of research participants in this study, please contact the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (UFIRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250 or 352 392 0433). Sincerely,

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175 Susan A. C raft Graduate Student, University of Florida School Psychology Program _________________________________________________________ I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: _____________________________________ Date: _____________

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176 Other School Personnel Form November 2010 Dear School Professional: The purpose of this letter is to obtain your consent for participation in a qualitative researc h study that will take place during the Spring 2011 semester. The goal of this making for the ir child throughout the Response to Intervention (RtI) process. If you agree to participate, you will be involved in the following: Interviews: Interviews will likely occur near the middle and end of the semester, and will be scheduled with the interviewe r based on participant availability. Each interview will last approximately 30 90 minutes and will be audiotaped and transcribed. All identifying information will be removed from the transcriptions. Observations: The researcher will be present at informal and formal educational decision making meetings for the students with whom you have been involved. The purpose of this is to take notes about the RtI process and to provide information for future interview questions. Follow up/feedback: The interviewer w ill send individual transcriptions to participants. This is done so that the participants can check the accuracy of the statements made and make any comments about the data. Your participation in this project is completely voluntary. The primary benefit i n participating is that you will be able to provide helpful insight into future practices of schools regarding parent involvement practices within an RtI framework. I do not perceive that there are any risks in your participation. However, you are free to withdraw from the study at any time. You will not be provided compensation for your participation. Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Please sign and return this letter. A second copy of the letter is provided to you f or your records. If you have any questions about the study or the procedures for data collection, please contact the investigator, Susan Craft (859 380 7060 or susancraft@ufl.edu ) or the faculty supervisor, Nancy Waldron, Ph.D. (352 273 4284 or waldron@coe.ufl.edu ). If you have any questions about the rights of research participants in this study, please contact the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (UFIRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250 or 352 392 0433). Sincerely,

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177 Susan A. Craft Graduate Student, University of Florida School Psychology Program _________________________________________________________ I have rea d the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: _____________________________________ Date: _____________

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178 APPENDIX B DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMAT ION FORMS Parent Fo rm Initials ______ Age __________ I am a ______________. Female Male My race/ethnicity is _________________. African American Asian/Asian American Caucasian Hispanic Native American Multi Racial Other. Please specify: ___ _____________ The highest level of education I have completed is ___________________. Some high school High school Some college College Graduate/professional school Please indicate the number of children in your family and their corresponding grade levels.

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179 Teacher Form Initials ______ Age __________ I am a ______________. Female Male My race/ethnicity is _________________. African American Asian/Asian American Cau casian Hispanic Native American Multi Racial Other. Please specify: ________________ How many years have you been teaching? _________________________ How many years have you been teaching at DRS ? _________________ How many years have you been involved with Response to Intervention (RtI) implementation? _______________________ Briefly describe your involvement with the RtI process ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________ ________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

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180 School Personnel Form Initials ______ Age __________ I am a ______________. Female Male My race/ethnicity is _________________. African American Asian/Asian American Caucasian Hispanic Native American Multi Racial Other. Please specify: ________________ How many years have you been employed as an educ ational professional? _________________________ How many years have you been employed at DRS ? _________________ How many years have you been involved with Response to Intervention (RtI) implementation? _______________________ Briefly describe your in volvement with the RtI process ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

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181 APPENDIX C INTERVIEW GUIDES Parent Interview Guide (Initial) 1. First, how many children do you have at DRS ? How old are they and what grades are they in? 2. Schools are very focused on academic achievement these days, and we see lots of academic information about students in first grade. Talk to me about the information you receive from the school about 3. 4. 5. What are the academic difficulties that your child has? 6. Tell me about the sup port your child is getting at the school to address their needs. 7. 8. One thing the teachers send home is this. (Show CBM sheet). Talk to me about this. 9. What information do you have to underst and the CBM sheet? 10. What do you make of all the information that has come to you from conferences, meetings at school, report cards, home folders, and the progress monitoring sheets? 11. What information do you value most when developing an understanding of you academic performance? 12. Describe any questions that you have about this information. 13. What other information would be important for you as a parent to have to understand your

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182 T eacher Interview Guide lk to you about your perspectives about communicating with parents about their 1. First, talk to me about your goals for communicating with parents. 2. Schools are very focused on academic achievement these days, and we see lots of academic information about students in first grade. Talk to me about the information you deliver to 3. Talk to me about how you present this information. a. Query: Tell me a little bit about why you present the inf ormation in the way you do. 4. Tell me a little bit about your contact with parents throughout the year. 5. Describe the supports that students in your classroom get to address their academic needs. 6. Tell me about the ways that parents are involved in your class room. 7. From your perspective, what information do you value most when developing an 8. What information do you think is most valuable for the parents to help them understand their 9. Wh at issues have you encountered when explaining academic progress data? 10. Describe any questions that parents commonly ask you about the information they receive. 11. One thing parents receive is this. (Show CBM sheet for each student individually). What do you make of the information on here for this student? 12. Discuss the resources that are available to parents to understand this information.

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183 Other School Staff Interview Guide ts about their making. 1. Talk to me about your goals for communicating with parents. 2. Describe your expectations for communicating with parents. 3. What do you see as teache r expectations for communicating with parents? 4. progress data. 5. How do you think the first grade teachers describe the academic supports a child is receiving to parents? 6. What information do you think is most important to be communicated to parents? 7. What information do you think is most valuable for the parents to help them develop an 8. Talk about the issues that parents bring up to you regarding communication. 9. Talk about the issues that parents bring up to you regarding decision making. 10. Tell me a little bit about your contact with first gr ade parents throughout the year. 11. Tell me about your interac tions with first grade parents at various meetings this year. 12. Describe the ways that parents are involved at DRS during first grade.

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184 SAIL Parent Interview Guide (Follow up) emic progress information and your participation in decision making since the last time we talked. 1. from the middle of the year until now. 2. Share your impressions a bout this now (show end of year CBM sheet). 3. 4. Discuss your involvement in the educational decisions that have been made for your child this year. 5. Talk to me about what you see 6. Tell me a little bit about the SAIL program. 7. 8. Discuss the information have you received about your child since participating in SAIL. 9. Talk to me about what will happen after the end of the SAIL program. 10. 11. What are your expectations for next year at DRS ? 12. information, interventions for your child, and meetings at school. How would you want this process to be different? What would be ideal for you?

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185 APPENDIX D SAMPLE CBM SHEET DRS School 1 st Grade Progress Monitoring Assessment Report School Year: 2010 201 1 Student: Teacher : 1 st Quarter October 2 nd Quarter January 3 rd Quarter March 4 th Quarter June Assessment score On Grade Level score score On Grade Level score score On Grade Level score score On Grade Level score Fox in the Box Sight Words 30 40 45 50 Fox in the Box Decoding 15 + 6 20 + 8 25 + 10 30 + 12 Fox in the Box Spelling 12 18 18 24 24 DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency 24 50 50 50 DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency 20 25 40 Level C E G F H I In READING your child is working BELOW Grade Level ON/ABOVE Grade Level BELOW Grade Level ON/ABOVE Grade Level BELOW Grade Level ON/ABOV E Grade Level BELOW Grade Level ON/ABOVE Grade Level Everyday Mathematics Individual Profile of Progress 80% 80% 80% 80% In MATH your child is working BELOW Grade Level ON/ABOVE Grade Level BELOW Grade Level ON/ABOVE Grade Level BELOW Gra de Level ON/ABOVE Grade Level BELOW Grade Level ON/ABOVE Grade Level Additional Instruction (provided for students working

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186 below grade level) Please sign & return

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187 Fox in a Box Sight Words Students are shown a list of beginni ng sight words (e.g., the, you, me, he, one, said, would ). These words appear most frequently in our written language and Fox in a Box Decoding cvc= rug, cat, hop blends & digraphs= sh, th, ch, st, tr dr, sc cvce= hike, tale, rope cvvc= boat, train, keep Students are shown a series of words and nonwords and are asked to sound essential to beginning reading. Without this skill, stud ents are unable to teach about how to read words. First, students learn to associate sounds with individual letters. Later, they learn to associate sounds with letter combinations By the end of second grade, students are expected to recognize most common sound spelling patterns. following: words + nonwords Fox in a Box Spelling The teacher calls out words for students to spell. The spelling as sessment th, ch, tr, sp, ing, ed, ay ). DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency Students are shown a series of three letter, nonwords with short vowel sounds (e.g., pid, jut, cam ). The teacher counts how many of the nonwords the student accurately reads or sounds out in one minute. This is a standardized measure that allows us to measure how an individual student compares to thousands of typical first grade students. DIBELS Oral Reading Flu ency Students are given one minute to read a selected first grade story. Students do this three times in a row with three different stories. The teacher records how automaticity (how quickly and easily they read) strongly correlate with future reading comprehension. Measuring how many words are read correctly on a grade level story is an assessment measure that has been repeatedly studied by thousands of first grade students. Level It is important to identify the reading level of individual students so that we can be sure that students have opportunities to read books that are ju st right for them. Books that are too hard for students frustrate them and make it impossible for them to continue to grow as a reader. Books that are too easy provide opportunities for students to build their reading fluency but do not provide a learning challenge. The reading level system we use has been developed and researched by reading experts and has been adopted by many school districts throughout the United States. Everyday Mathematics Individual Profile of Progress The Individual Profile of Progr ess is provided by the publisher of our math series. Classroom teachers measure student mastery of math skills with end of unit tests and one on one alternative assessments. Students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of targeted skills in a v ariety of ways. Adequate progress is measured towards end of year goals. Students are for at least 80% of the grade level goals.

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188 LIST OF REFERENCES Abrahamson, M., Wilson, V Learning Disability Quarterly 6 184 194. Adams, K. S., & Christenson, S. L. (2000). Trust and the family school relationship: E xamination of parent teacher differences in elementary and secondary grades. Journal of School Psychology 38 477 497. Alper, S., Schloss, P. J., & Schloss, C. N. (1996). Families of children with disabilities in elementary and middle school: Advocacy model and strategies. Exceptional Children 62 261 270. Anderson, K. J., & Minke, K. M. (2007). Parents involvement in education: Toward an making. The Journal of Educational Research 100 ( 5 ), 311 323. Barton, C. L., Barton, L. E., Rycek, R. F., & Brulle, A. R. (1984). Parents and information: What they receive and what they need. The Mental Retardation and Learning Disabilities Bulletin 12 98 104. Bempechat, J. Graham, S.E., & Jimenez, N.V. (1999). The socializati on of achievement in poor and minority students: A comparative study. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 30 (2), 139 158. Bogd an, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2007 ). Qualitative research in education: An introduction to theory and methods 5 th ed Boston: Allyn and Bacon Bradshaw, C. P., Zmuda, J. H., Kellam, S. G., & Ialongo, N. S. (2009). Longitudinal impact of two universal preventive interventions in first grade on educational outcomes in high school. Journal of Educational Psychology 101 (4), 926 9 37. Brantlinger, E. A. (1987). Making decisions about special education placement: Do low income parents have the information they need? Journal of Learning Disabilities 20 (2), 94 101. Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Ecological models of human development. In M. Gauvain & M. Cole (Eds.), Readings on the development of children (pp. 3 8). New York: Worth Publishers. Burns, M. K., & Gibbons, K. A. (2008). Implementing response to intervention in elementary and secondary schools: Procedures to assure scienti fic based practices New York: Routledge.

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189 Carlson, C., & Christenson, S. L. (2005). (Eds.) Evidence based parent and family interventions in school psychology. [Special issue]. School Psychology Quarterly 20 (4). Center for Appropriate Dispute Resol ution in Special Education. (2010). experiences with the IEP process: Considerations for improving practice. Eugene, OR: CADRE. Childre, A., & Chambers, C. R. (2005). Family perceptions of student centered planning and IEP meetings. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities 40 (3), 217 233. Cho, S. J., & Gannotti, M. E. (2005). Korean professional support in early intervention and special education progra Teacher 3 ournal of Policy and Practice in Inte llectual Disabilities 2 (1), 1 9. Christenson, S. L. (2010). Engaging with parents: The power of information, responsiveness to parental need, and ongoing support for the enhanced competence of all students NASP Distinguished Lecture Series, Communiqu 39 (1), 20 24. School Psychology Review 26 (1), 111 130. Christenson, S. L., & Sheridan, S. M. (2001). Schools and families: Creating essential connections for learning New York: Guilford. Cortiella, C. (2006). NCLB and IDEA: What parents of students with disabilities need to know and do. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Cen ter on Educational Outcomes. DeCusati, C.L., & Johnson, J.E. (2004). Parents as classroom volunteers and The Journal of Educational Research 97( 5 ), 235 246. Deno, S. (2003). Developments in curriculum bas ed measurement. The Journal of Special Education 37 (3), 184 192. Dowd Eagle, S. E. (2007). Pre referral intervention with parents as partners (PIPP): An investigation of efficacy, implementation fidelity, and parent involvement in team based problem so lving procedures. Dissertation Abstracts International 68 (10). (UMI No. 3284717)

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190 Dunst, C. J., Trivette, C. M., & Hamby, D. W. (2007). Meta analysis of family centered helpgiving practices research. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews 13 370 378. Dyson, L. L. (2001). Home school communication and expectations of recent Chinese immigrants. Canadian Journal of Education 26 (4), 455 476. Epstein, J. L. (2005). Attainable goals? The spirit and letter of the No Child L eft Behind Act on parental involvement. Sociology of Education 78 (2), 179 182. experiences in school based team meetings. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation 18 (3), 234 258. Fish, W. W. (2008). The IEP meeting: Perceptions of parents of students who receive special education services. Preventing School Failure 53 (1), 8 14. Fletcher, J. M., & Vaughn, S. (2009). Response to intervention: Preven ting and remediating academic difficulties. Child Development Perspectives 3 30 37. Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D. (2006). Introduction to response to intervention: What, why, and how valid is it?. Reading Research Quarterly 41 (1), 93 99. Gerber, P. J., perceptions of parental participation in the individual education plan process. Psychology in the Schools 23 158 163. Gettinger, M., & Guetschow, K. W. (1998). Parental involve ment in schools: Parent and teacher perceptions of roles, efficacy, and opportunities. Journal of Research and Development in Education 32 (1), 38 52. Gilliam, G. E., & Coleman, M. C. (1981). Who influences IEP committee decisions? Exceptional Children 47 (8), 642 644. Goldstein, S., Strickland, B., Turnbull, A. P., & Curry, L. (1980). An observational analysis of the IEP conference. Exceptional Children 46 (4), 278 286. Greenen, S., Powers, L. E., & Lopez, Vasquez, A. (2001). Multicultural aspects o f parent involvement in transition planning. Exceptional Children 67 265 282. Gresham, F. M. (2007). Evolution of the response to intervention concept: Empirical foundations and recent developments. In S. R. Jimerson, M. K. Burns, and A. M. VanDerHey den (Eds.), Handbook of response to intervention: The science and practice of assessment and intervention (pp. 10 24). New York: Springer.

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191 Harniss, M. K., Epstein, M. H., Bursuck, W. D., Nelson, J., & Jayanthi, M. (2001). Resolving homework related com munication problems: Recommendations of parents of children with and without disabilities. Reading and Writing Quarterly 17 205 225. Harry, B. (1992). Cultural diversity, families, and the special education system: Communication and empowerment New Hatch, A. (2007). Doing qualitative research in education settings Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Henderson, A. T., & Berla, N. (Eds.) (1994). A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to stud ent achievement Washington, DC: National Committee for Citizens in Education. Hoover education: Why does it make a difference ? Teachers College Record 97 (2), 310 330. Individu als with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA). (2004). Public Law 108 446. Jimerson, S. R., Burns, M. K., & VanDerHeyden, A. M. (2007). Response to intervention at school: The science and practice of assessment and intervention. In S. R. Jimerson, M. K. Burns, and A. M. VanDerHeyden (Eds.), Handbook of response to intervention: The science and practice of assessment and intervention (pp. 3 9). New York: Springer. Jowett, S., & Baginsky, M. (1988). Parents and education: A survey of their involvem ent and discussion of some issues. Educational Research 30 36 45. Klotz, M. B., & Canter, A. (2006). Response to intervention (RTI): A primer for parents. Retrieved July 11, 2010 from http://www.nasponline.org/resources/factsheets/rtiprimer.aspx Landsverk, R. A. (2004). Toolkit for schools: Involving parents in No Child Left Behind. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. level of participation and experiences in IEP meetings. Preventing School Failure 53 (1), 21 27. process. Exceptional Children 48 (3), 256 257.

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195 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Sus an Alexandria Craft was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Daughter of David and Andrea Craft, she grew up as the middle child with two si sters, Mary Beth and Mallory. She spent her childhood years in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and graduated from Covington Latin School in 2003. From there, she went on to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Susan graduated cum laude from Miami University in 2 007, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees (B.A.) in psychology and comparative religion. A fter ward Susan began her graduate studies at the University of Florida. She earned her Master of Education degree (M.Ed.) in school psychology in 2010. To finalize her f ormal graduate training, Susan completed a 12 month internship with the School District of Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida. Susan obtained her Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) in school psychology from the University of Florida in August 2012.