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Teachers' perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent involvement in education

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Teachers' perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent involvement in education
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TEACHERS' PERCEPTIONS OF PARENT/TEACHER ROLES IN PARENT
INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATION











By

MEGHAN K. NICOLINI


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


2003













ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

There are numerous people who have contributed to the success of this

project. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to my dissertation chair,

Dr. Tina Smith-Bonahue, whom I have relied on greatly over the past six years. I

applaud all the she has done for me, and am forever grateful for her guidance,

patience and support, both professionally and personally. Next, I would like to

thank my committee members Drs. Jones, Miller, and Waldron for their direction

and support as members of my dissertation committee. I appreciate all the effort

and commitment that have been given to this project and me.

I would also like to thank the Anne Arundel County public school system

for being so supportive of this project. This project would not have been

possible without its willingness to participate. I would like to extend my

appreciation to Dr. Tim Dangle, the principals who provided entrance into the

schools and most importantly to the numerous teachers who took the time to

complete the surveys. Without them, this project would have never happened.

Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for continually

supporting and encouraging me throughout my graduate school career. It has

been a long journey and I will forever be grateful to all of you for believing in me

and helping me attain my goals.












TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOW LEDG EM ENTS ........................................................................ ii

ABSTRACT ............................................................................................... vi

CHAPTER

1 INTRO DUCTION ................................................................................... 1

Significance of the Study ................................................................ 2
Purpose of the Study ...................................................................... 4
Sum m ary and Overview of Chapters ............................................. 4

2 LITERATURE REVIEW ....................................................................... 6

Benefits to Parent Involvem ent ...................................................... 6
Models and Types of Parent Involvement ................... 10
Barriers to Parental Involvem ent .................................................... 20
Model of Parent Involvem ent Process ............................................ 25
Strategies for Im proving Parental Involvement ............................... 36
Teacher Qualities that Influence Parent Involvement ..................... 39
Role of Socioeconom ic Status ...................................................... 48

3 M ETHO D .............................................................................................. 52

Participants ................................................................................... 52
Setting ............................................................................................ 52
Measures ....................................................................................... 53
Procedure ...................................................................................... 56
Analyses ........................................................................................ 57

4 RESULTS ............................................................................................ 59

Descriptive Results ........................................................................ 59
Bivariate Correlations .................................................................... 65
M ultiple Regression Analysis ........................................................ 66

5 DISCUSSIO N ........................................................................................ 68

Im portance of Teacher Efficacy ...................................................... 69
Implications for Teacher Education and Preparation ...................... 70








Means Through W hich Teachers Involve Parents .......................... 72
Means Through W hich Teachers Interact with Parents .................. 73
Limitations of the Current Study .................................................... 73
C o nclusio ns ................................................................................... 75
Directions for Future Research ...................................................... 77

A P P E N D IX ................................................................................................ 7 8

A PRINCIPAL INVITATION LETTER ...................................................... 78

B RESEARCH STUDY CONSENT FORM ............................................. 81

C PARENT INVOLVEMENT RATING SCALE ......................................... 84

D FOCUS GROUP CONSENT FORM .................................................... 86

E RELIABILITY STUDY CONSENT FORM ............................................. 88

F TEACHER EFFICACY SCALE ............................................................. 90

G TEACHER INFORMATION SURVEY .................................................. 92

H POSTCARD REMINDER ..................................................................... 95

R E F E R E N C E S ......................................................................................... 96

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ....................................................................... 101









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

TEACHERS' PERCEPTIONS OF
PARENT/TEACHER ROLES IN PARENT
INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATION

By

Meghan K. Nicolini

August 2003

Chair: Tina Smith-Bonahue
Major Department: Educational Psychology


Historically in the United States there has been ambivalence as to whether

the family should be a focus of educational attention. On one hand parent

involvement in education is desirable, yet others are concerned that too much

attention would violate the family's autonomy and privacy. A review of the

literature suggests that little empirical evidence and research exist on teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement and why teachers initially decide to involve

parents. More specifically, which factors affect teachers' decisions to involve

parents in their children's education remains an unanswered question. The

purpose of this study was to attempt to identify key factors that influence

teachers' perceptions of parent involvement in education. This study was

designed to determine the effects of teacher efficacy, years of teaching

experience, and preservice teacher training on teachers' perceptions of

parent/teacher roles in parent involvement while controlling for grade and

schools' socioeconomic status. This study surveyed 170 kindergarten through








third grade elementary school teachers. They were asked to complete the

Parent Involvement Rating Scale, Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES) and the Teacher

Information Survey. Results suggest that teacher efficacy is one factor that

predicts teachers' perceptions of parent involvement. More specifically, teachers

with a higher sense of efficacy have more positive perceptions of parent

involvement than those with a lower sense of efficacy. Preservice teacher

training and years of experience do not appear to be predictors of teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement.













CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Historically in the United States there has been ambivalence as to whether

the family should be a focus of educational attention. On one hand, family

involvement in education is viewed as desirable, even necessary. On the other

hand, concerns have been raised that too much attention would violate the

family's autonomy and privacy (Powell, 1991). Several questions about parent

involvement have been raised over the past few decades. What role should

parents take in their children's education? What do teachers/administrators

perceive as ideal parent involvement? What type(s) of involvement are most

beneficial to students? The field of parent involvement in education is relatively

new and some of these important issues are just beginning to be explored.

The term parent involvement has been defined differently by various

researchers. Lareau (1987,2000, 2001) defines parent involvement as preparing

children for school (i.e., teaching children the alphabet; talking and reading to

children to promote language development), attending school events (i.e.,

parent-teacher conferences), and carrying through any requests teachers make.

Other researchers define parent involvement as "the participation of parents in

every facet of children's education and development from birth to adulthood,

recognizing that parents are the primary influence in children's lives" (National

PTA, 2000, p. 8).








For the purpose of this study, Epstein's (1987) definition of parent

involvement will be utilized. After reviewing the literature, she identified the

following five main types of parent involvement: a) basic obligations of parents

(parenting), b) basic obligations of schools (communication), c) parent

involvement at school (volunteering), d) parent involvement in learning activities

at home, and e) parent involvement in governance and advocacy (decision-

making). Further description of these types of parent involvement will be

discussed in Chapter 2.

Research on family environments has consistently documented the

importance of family involvement for student development and achievement

(Epstein, 1985; Lightfoot, 1978; Powell, 1991). According to Epstein (1985),

parental encouragement, activities, and interests at home, as well as parental

participation in schools and classrooms, have a positive influence on

achievement, even after the student's ability and family socioeconomic status are

taken into account.

When parents and teachers work together, ideally a partnership or

community is formed. Communities that share a unified purpose and resources

have a greater possibility of strengthening their schools, families, and student

learning (National PTA, 2000). Establishing home/school partnerships are

mutually beneficial for connecting individuals, not just institutions or groups.

Significance of the Study

The importance of parent involvement in education is well documented in

the literature (e.g., Ballantine, 1999; Comer & Haynes, 1991; DeAcosta, 1996;








Epstein & Dauber, 1991). Yet, it remains difficult for teachers to involve parents

in their children's education. Research suggests that the benefits of parent

involvement extend beyond the students (Ballantine, 1999; Epstein, 1985;

Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al., 1996), including parents and teachers

alike (Epstein et al., 1997). In addition, the importance of home-school

partnerships and collaboration has been supported (Epstein, 1985; Kibel & Stein-

Seroussi, 1997; Lightfoot, 1978).

Several studies have been conducted examining the effects, benefits, and

barriers of parent involvement; although few have focused on why parents

become involved and teachers' perceptions of parent involvement (Ballantine,

1999; Becker & Epstein, 1982; Epstein et al., 1997; Hornby, 2000; Karther &

Lowden, 1997; National PTA, 2000; Sussell et al., 1996;). More specifically, why

are some teachers able to involve all types of parents with ease while other

teachers are not successful? Hoover-Dempsey and Sandier (1997) developed a

model attempting to explain parents' involvement decisions and choices. The

model suggests that parents' fundamental decision to become involved in their

children's education is a function of the three following constructs: a) the parents'

construction of his/her role in the child's life; b) the parents' sense of efficacy for

helping their children succeed in school; and c) the general invitations, demands,

and opportunities for parental involvement presented by both the child and the

child's school.

Factors that influence teachers' decisions to involve parents have not

been thoroughly examined. Therefore, factors that may prevent or increase








teachers' use of parent involvement must be explored. What factor(s) has the

biggest influence on teachers' decisions about parent involvement? Does the

problem originate in teacher training programs or are other school- and/or

teacher-related variables (i.e., SES, teacher efficacy) responsible for their

decisions? Therefore, an understanding of the potential factors that contribute to

teachers' use of parent involvement may provide implications for teacher training

programs as well as identifying factors most relevant in teachers' decisions about

parent involvement.

Purpose of the Study

This study will examine teachers' perceptions of parent involvement based

on teacher-and school-related variables, including teacher efficacy, years of

teaching experience, and preservice teacher training in parent involvement.

Specifically, this study will examine the following question: What are the effects

of teacher efficacy, years of teaching experience, and preservice teacher training

on teachers' perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent involvement while

controlling for grade and schools' socioeconomic status?

Summary and Overview of Remaining Chapters

Despite the recognized importance of parent involvement in education, the

factors that influence teachers' perceptions have not been fully explored. As a

result, this study will attempt to expand existing research and identify factors that

may contribute to teachers' use of parent involvement.

Chapter 2 provides a review of the relevant research including benefits of

parent involvement, models and types of parent involvement, and factors





5

influencing parent involvement. Chapter 3 describes the research methodology

and procedures used in this study. Chapter 4 describes the results of the study.

Chapter 5 presents the results of the study, discusses how the results of the

study relate to previous research, addresses the limitations of the study, and

provides implications for future research.













CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

In recent years, parent involvement in education has received increasing

attention from the popular as well as scholarly press, with a number of authors

pointing out the benefits experienced by children (Ballantine, 1999; Epstein et al.,

1997; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al, 1996). Despite this attention,

several aspects of parent involvement have received little, if any attention. This

study was undertaken in an attempt to better understand the phenomena of

parent involvement. In particular, it seeks to identify key factors that influence

teachers' perceptions of parent involvement in education. The following review

of the literature begins with a rationale for the study by exploring the benefits of

parent involvement. Next, models and types of parent involvement are explored

as means of understanding and characterizing the breadth of research and

practice in this area. Finally, parent characteristics and strategies for improving

parental involvement are discussed as they relate to factors that potentially

explain factors that facilitate or inhibit parent involvement.

Benefits to Parent Involvement

Researchers have noted several benefits to parent involvement in

education. Epstein et al. (1997) found the benefits of parent involvement extend

beyond the students; including the parents, teachers, and school alike. In 1974,

Bronfenbrenner (as cited in Hoover-Dempsey, et al., 1987) concluded that parent








involvement was crucial to the success of educational programs for children.

Even though parents are not involved as much as one would like, several

benefits to parent involvement have been documented (Ballantine, 1999; Epstein

et al., 1997; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al, 1996). These results indicate

that even minimal amounts of parent involvement have significant effects on

children, parents, and teachers alike. Imagine the results ideal levels of parent

involvement would bring. The following benefits of parent involvement in

education will be discussed below: a) overall school climate, b) increased

positive parental attitudes, c) increased student performance, and d) increased

parenting abilities.

Overall School Climate

Sussell et al. (1996) found that improved school climate was one of the

benefits of parent involvement in education. This improvement could be related

to teachers and parents working collaboratively, or as one unit. According to

Bronfenbrenner (1974, as cited in Hoover-Dempsey, et al., 1987) cohesiveness

between systems (i.e., home and school) leads to the best outcomes. Benefits

for teachers and administrators have also been found including a greater respect

for the family's strengths and efforts, better understanding of student and family

diversity, and better understanding of family's concerns, goals, and needs

(Epstein et al., 1997).

Increased Positive Parental Attitudes

Sussell et al. (1996) suggest that more positive attitudes towards teachers

and schools is one benefit of parent involvement in education. By working








collaboratively with teachers and the school, parents are able to place more trust

in them, which frequently leads to having a more positive attitude. Karther and

Lowden (1997) studied the effects of parent involvement and found that parents

who were involved experienced an increase in parental satisfaction with schools.

It is imperative to remember, however, that this will not happen unless a true

partnership is formed.

Increased Student Performance

The third benefit to parent involvement is increased student performance

(Ballantine, 1999; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al., 1996). Teachers and

parents want proof that their time and effort in organizing and carrying through

with a parent involvement program will improve student achievement. Students

whose parents are involved experience greater gains in various academic areas,

opposed to those whose parents are not involved. Epstein (1985) found that with

"important characteristics statistically controlled", (although not specified),

students whose teachers were leaders in parent involvement made greater gains

in reading achievement than did other students (p. 22). However, the same

results were not found on gains in math achievement. This phenomenon is

explained by the fact that the most popular subject for parents to help their

children with is reading activities.

Research by Epstein et al. (1997) suggests that effective school, family,

and community partnerships provide a number of benefits to students. By

involving parents, curricular and extracurricular activities are enriched, providing

a means for students to gain specialized skills. Another benefit is that students








develop positive relationships with adults other than their parents and teachers.

Perhaps the most important benefit is that students develop a sense of value and

belonging to the community.

In addition to increases in students' grades, benefits are found in other

areas that affect student achievement. These include but are not limited to: a)

more positive student attitudes and behaviors (Sussell et al., 1996), b) improved

communication between parents and children (Ballantine, 1999), c) increased

high school attendance and less disruptive behavior (Ballantine, 1999), d)

increased likelihood of completing high school and attending college (Ballantine,

1999), and e) improved study habits among children (Ballantine, 1999). A study

by Epstein (1982, as cited in Epstein, 1985), which surveyed 613 fifth grade

students, indicated when teachers are leaders in parent involvement and when

parents become involved the students report having: a) more positive attitudes

toward school, b) more regular homework habits, c) more similarity between the

school and family, d) more familiarity between the teacher and the family, and e)

more homework assigned on the weekends.

Increased Parenting Abilities

The final benefit to parent involvement is increasing the confidence of

parents. Karther and Lowden (1997) found that parents who are involved in their

children's education experience an increase in their self-confidence as parents.

In addition, Epstein et al. (1997) found that parents gain a greater knowledge of

the characteristics of childhood and adolescence, have more self-confidence in

their parenting abilities, and become more aware of their own and others'








challenges in parenting. Due to an increase in their self-confidence parents

experience a sense of accomplishment, higher parental expectations for their

children, and an increased likelihood of deciding to continue their own education

(Ballantine, 1999).

Models and Types of Parent Involvement

Clearly, children benefit when their parents participate and support their

education. The ways in which parents are, and should be involved in their

children's education is less clear. In attempting to understand and describe

parental involvement in their children's education, authors have categorized the

form and means through which parents participate. Hornby (2000) has identified

six models of parental involvement: a) protective, b) expert, c) transmission, d)

curriculum-enrichment, e) consumer, and f) partnership models. Each is defined

by its own set of assumptions, goals, and strategies and ranges from approaches

which try to minimize parental involvement to those which actively promote it.

These models discuss more organizational and systemic approaches to parent

involvement rather than individual teacher's approaches.

Protective Model

The goal of the protective model (Swap, 1993) is to avoid conflict between

teachers and parents by keeping the teaching and parenting functions separate.

It is referred to as the protective model because its objective is to protect the

school from interference by parents. The teacher's responsibility is to educate

children, while the parent's responsibility is to make sure children get to school

on time with the correct supplies. In this model, parental involvement is seen as








unnecessary and potentially interfering with the education of children. This

model is based on three assumptions: 1) parents delegate to the school the

responsibility of educating their children, 2) parents hold school personnel

accountable for the results, and 3) educators accept this delegation of

responsibility (Swap, 1993).

Expert Model

In the expert model (Cunningham & Davis, 1985), teachers consider

themselves the experts regarding all areas of the development and education of

children, whereas parents' views are given little credence. Teachers maintain

control over all decisions, while the parents' role is to receive information and

instruction about their children. Parents' views and feelings, the need for a

mutual relationship, and the sharing of information are given little, if any,

consideration.

Several problems have been identified with this model. First, because

there is no sense of collaboration in this model, it encourages teachers to be

dominant and parents to be submissive. The teachers are the experts and

parents are expected to passively follow the teachers, not questioning anything.

Such a passive role for parents tends to cause them to lose faith in their own

competence. Further, because teachers do not take advantage and use parents

for the rich resources they are, teachers may overlook the special abilities and

problems of children.








Transmission Model

The transmission model is predicated on the view that teachers see

themselves as the primary source of expertise on children but who recognize the

benefits of using parents as a resource (Swap, 1993). This model is based on

several assumptions: a) children's achievement is fostered by continuity of

expectations and values between home and school; b) school personnel should

identify the values and practices outside school that contribute to school success;

and c) parents should endorse the importance of schooling, reinforce school

expectations at home, provide conditions at home that nurture development and

support school success, and ensure that the child meets minimum academic and

social requirements (Swap, 1993).

According to Swap, this model differs from the protective model in that it
"acknowledges the continuous interchange between home and school and the

important role parents play in enhancing the educational achievement of their

children" (p. 30). Parents' help is recruited to assist in supporting the goals of the

school. In this model, the teacher remains in control and decides on the

intervention, yet accepts that parents can play an important role in facilitating

children's progress. Teachers using this approach must have additional skills,

including techniques to effectively guide parents and interpersonal skills to

establish productive working relationships.

One drawback of this approach is the assumption that all parents can, and

should, take on the role of acting as a resource (Swap, 1993). This model has








the potential to overburden parents by placing excessive demands on them to

carry out interventions in the home.

Curriculum-enrichment Model

The goal of the curriculum-enrichment model (Swap, 1993) is to extend

the school curriculum by incorporating parents' contributions. This model is

based on the assumption that parents have valuable expertise to contribute and

the interaction between parents and teachers will enhance the curriculum and the

educational objectives of the school. Parent involvement in this model focuses

primarily on curriculum and instruction within schools. This model provides

means for parents to be actively involved and for teachers and parents to learn

from each other. This model is different from the other models in that it does "not

necessarily permeate all aspects of the school culture and structure: Its focus is

on curriculum and instruction" (Swap, 1993, p. 39). The major drawback to this

model is that it involves teachers permitting parents to have tremendous input to

what is taught and how it is taught. In some cases, this may seem threatening to

the teacher.

Consumer Model

Parents are seen as being consumers of educational services in the

consumer model (Cunningham & Davis, 1985). In this model, teachers function

as more of a consultant while parents decide what action is to be taken. The

responsibility of decision-making lies on the shoulders of the parents, but it is the

teachers' responsibility to provide parents with relevant information and the

options available. In this model, teachers defer to the parents, who are placed in








the expert role. Because parents are in control of the decision-making process,

they are more likely to be satisfied with the services they receive, to feel more

confident in their parenting, and to be less dependent on professionals. Perhaps

the biggest drawback to this model is that, if taken to extreme, it can lead to a

surrender of professional responsibility (Cunningham & Davis, 1985). Further, it

is imperative that when parents are making choices for their children that they

are informed decisions. It is the professionals' responsibility to fully inform

parents of their options and alternatives. If professionals fail to do this, then this

model becomes a disaster.

Partnership Model

After reviewing and evaluating the previous five models of parent

involvement, Hornby (2000) identified as the most appropriate model one in

which teachers are considered to be experts on education and parents are

viewed as experts on their children. The goal is to establish a partnership in

which teachers and parents share expertise and control in order to provide the

optimum education for children, each contributing different strengths to the

relationship. Mutual respect, long-term commitment to a wide range of activities,

and sharing of planning and decision-making responsibilities are essential

components if true partnerships between parents and teachers are to occur.

Hornby (2000) proposes four key elements to ensure collaborative

relationships between teachers and parents occur: a) two-way communication,

b) mutual support, c) joint decision-making, and d) enhancement of learning at

school and at home. "Although there must be enough flexibility to enable other








models to be used when necessary, it is considered that the partnership model is

generally the most appropriate perspective from which to develop constructive

parental involvement" (Hornby, 2000, p. 21).

Types of Parent Involvement

Implicit within the models described by Hornby (2000) is the assumption

that parents are involved through different means, and at different levels of

intensity. While extensive research (Epstein, 1986; Epstein, 1987; Epstein &

Dauber, 1991; Epstein et al., 1997) on family environments shows that children

have an advantage when their parents support and encourage their school

activities, there are many ways for this support to be realized, ranging from the

most basic preparation for school to true partnerships with educators. After

reviewing the research in the area of parent involvement in education, Epstein

(1987) identified five main types of parent involvement: a) basic obligations of

parents, b) basic obligations of schools, c) parent involvement at school, d)

parent involvement in learning activities at home, and e) parent involvement in

governance and advocacy (decision making).

Basic obligations of parents (parenting)

Perhaps the most basic and fundamental form of parent involvement is

providing for children's food, clothing, health, shelter, safety, and general well-

being. From birth, parents are responsible for teaching their children basic

cognitive and social skills to prepare them for school. Because parents vary in

their experiences and skills, schools frequently take an active role in helping

parents provide positive home environments that support school learning and








behavior. Schools help parents develop the knowledge and skills necessary to

understand their children at each grade level via several different modes (i.e.,

workshops, publications, home visitations, family support programs) (Epstein,

1987; Epstein & Dauber, 1991).

Basic obligations of schools (communication)

A second type of parent involvement is communication from school to the

home. The school has an obligation to inform parents about their children's

progress as well as school programs. This includes memos, report cards,

notices, phone calls, conferences, and calendars of school events. The National

PTA (2000) encourages teachers and school professionals to pay special

attention to parents who work outside the home, single parents, and parents from

different cultures. Information about school policies and programs and children's

progress should be communicated clearly and frequently with parents.

Epstein (1986) surveyed parents and teachers in first, third, and fifth grade

classrooms and found that more than a third of the parents had no conference

with a teacher during the school year. About 60 percent said that they had never

talked to their children's teachers by phone. Although more than 95 percent of

surveyed teachers reported that they communicated with parents, most parents

reported that they had never been involved in frequent discussions with their

children's teachers. There is no set formula as to how much communication

teachers need to have with parents. Principals and teachers can vary the form,

frequency, timing, and content of the information sent to the home (Epstein,

1987; Epstein & Dauber, 1991).








Parent involvement at school (volunteering)

A number of volunteer options for parents have been identified in the

literature. They may assist teachers in the classroom, on class trips, or at class

parties; teach mini-courses; participate in career awareness programs;

demonstrate hobbies and talents; provide after-school remediation or enrichment

programs, homework clinics, or hotlines; or work with parent organizations in

fund raising (Epstein, 1987). Teachers, parents, and students reap benefits from

parent involvement. Benefits to parents include, but are not limited, to the

following: a) feeling welcomed and valued at school, b) gaining self-confidence in

their ability to be role models for children, and c)having a better understanding

the teacher's role and responsibilities.

Epstein and Dauber (1991) found that more volunteers are used in the

elementary grades than in middle or high school. Research by Epstein (1987)

suggests that "having parents active at school encourages teachers to request

other parents to conduct learning activities with their children at home" (p. 8).

However, research also suggests that while parents believe involvement in their

children's school is important, few actually participate.

Parent involvement in learning activities at home

The fourth type of parent involvement consists of assisting with learning

activities at home. This may occur with or without specific advice and direction

from teachers. The learning activities may be designed to work on general skills

or more specific skills that pertain to the material being taught in the classroom.

General skills refer to things like helping students manage study habits and








school routines; developing problem solving, critical-thinking, or social skills;

and/or sportsmanship. Specific skills refer to skills needed at each grade level in

math, reading, language arts, etc (Epstein, 1987). Epstein and Dauber (1991)

found that grade level is strongly related to assisting with learning activities at

home. Elementary schools are more likely than middle schools to have strong

programs of this type of involvement.

Principals tend to encourage teachers to involve parents in reading

activities at home more than any other subject. Teachers report extensive use of

techniques that involve parents working with their children in reading and

reading-related activities.

Parents also benefit from helping their children with learning activities at

home. Epstein (1987) found that more than 90 percent of parents help their

children with homework activities at least once in a while. Yet, less than 25

percent receive formal or specific instructions from teachers to assist children

with specific skills. Such instruction has advantages: parents who are frequently

involved by teachers in learning activities at home recognized that the teacher

worked hard to involve parents, felt they should help their children at home, and

understood more about their children's education. In another study, Epstein et

al. (1997) found that parents who were involved in their children's education

experienced increased knowledge of how to support and encourage their

children at home. Additionally, they had an increased understanding of the

curriculum and what their children were learning in school.








When parents help their children with learning activities at home they are

ultimately helping their children be more successful at school. Epstein (1987)

found that students made greater gains in reading achievement if teachers

frequently used parent involvement. These findings were not the same for math

achievement, but as stated earlier, teachers tend to involve parents in reading

activities at home more than any other subject. Research by Epstein et al.

(1997) concluded that supporting parents as key figures in their children's

learning provided the following benefits to students: a) developed self-confidence

in their ability as learners; b) developed a positive attitude toward homework and

school; and c) received higher grades and test scores, had better attendance,

and completed homework more consistently.

Parent involvement in governance and advocacy (decision-makinq)

The fifth type of parent involvement includes parents in decision-making

and being activists in governance and advocacy. This includes parents'

participation in the parent-teacher association/organization (PTNPTO); advisory

councils; and/or committees at the school, district, or state level (Epstein, 1987).

In the advocate/decision-maker role, "parents work with the school to help solve

problems and develop policies that make the school system more responsive

and equitable to all families" (National PTA, 2000, p. 109). Commitment to this

standard can lead to the highest amount of parent involvement in education.

Parents have the ability to advocate for their children on several levels within the

education system. They can advocate within their communities or at the state

and federal level. According to the National PTA (2000), effective advocacy








requires parents to develop a plan that includes a strong message and an

effective strategy for communicating that message. The message needs to be

strong in order to communicate to various community members, including

lawmakers and the media. It is essential for the plan to include how to recruit

participants, train them, and keep them motivated.

Research by Epstein et al. (1997) suggests that parent involvement in

school decision-making provides the following benefits to students: a) an

understanding that their rights are protected, b) an awareness of families'

representation in school decisions, and c) benefits from specific policies enacted

by parent/school committees. Epstein et al. (1997) found that parents also

benefit from their involvement in school decision-making in the following ways: a)

gain a voice in school decisions and policies that affect children, b) become

aware of school and district policies, and c) feel a sense of ownership in their

children's school.

Barriers to Parental Involvement

In spite of the many benefits to parent involvement in education, a number

of barriers prevent it from being a common practice in every school. One

research question that deserves attention is why do these barriers exist? What

causes some schools to implement parent involvement practices with such ease,

while others find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to implement parent

involvement practices? Hornby (2000) has identified several barriers to parental

involvement, including a) demographic changes, b) historical/societal factors, c)

parents' attitude, d) school culture, and e) parent knowledge and skill.








Demographic Changes

Hornby suggests that two major demographic changes have occurred in

families over the past 30 years that have made parental involvement in schools

more difficult. First, there has been a significant increase in the number of

mothers of school-aged children who have entered the workforce. Second, the

number of children living in single parent families has increased. When both

parents are working or there is only one parent in the home, it becomes more

difficult for parents to be highly involved in their children's school.

Historical/societal Factors

The second barrier to parental involvement identified by Hornby (2000) is

historical/societal factors. The view or expectation of parental involvement in

education has changed over the years. Up until recently, there have been few

societal expectations regarding parental involvement in schools. Traditionally,

schools were viewed as places where children went to be educated. Thus

implying it was the teacher's job to educated children, not the parents'. The role

parents play in their children's education is changing. Ideally, parents and

teachers should work collaboratively with the best interest of the child in mind.

One aspect of this collaboration includes parent involvement in schools.

Parents' Attitude

Parents' attitude is Hornby's (2000) third barrier to parental involvement.

Epstein (1990, as cited in Hornby, 2000) concluded that all parents from all

backgrounds care about their children's education. "A common thread with

parents of all social classes and ethnic groups is a desire for a good education








for their children" (Karther & Lowden, 1997, p. 43). If this is the case, then why

are there still such low levels of parental involvement? Epstein (1990, as cited in

Hornby, 2000) suggests that one problem may be that few parents know what

schools expect from them or how they may contribute to their children's

schooling. Some parents may feel that they have little to contribute to their

children's school.

Along these lines, parents may not feel valued for several reasons. Some

parents may be intimidated by principals, teachers, and PTA leaders, while other

parents may have had unpleasant school experiences or have limited education

or low literacy levels. Therefore it may be a lack of knowledge and not feeling

valued that prevents high levels of parental involvement.

One possible solution may be to establish regular communication to build

relationships based on mutual respect and trust. For parents with low literacy

levels, schools can make phone calls or home visits to include these parents and

make them feel valued (National PTA, 2000).

School Culture

A fourth barrier to parental involvement relates to school culture. The

more autocratic the school culture or atmosphere is, the less likely the school will

be able to sustain parental involvement. Parents need to feel as though they are

welcomed in the school and their presence is valued. Parental involvement

needs to be based on a partnership between parents and teachers. Hornby

(2000) states that collaboration and partnerships between parents and teachers

is the key element to successful parental involvement. Several school factors








contribute to parents' levels of involvement, including school policy, conflicts with

other responsibilities, the extent to which the school promotes a welcoming

environment, clarity of parents' and teachers' roles, and skill of the parents

themselves.

School Policy

Administrators and school personnel often struggle with the role(s) parent

volunteers should take in the school. Several concerns have been documented

about school practices pertaining to parent training on school policy,

confidentiality, and discipline (Baker, 1996, as cited in National PTA, 2000).

Teachers, administrators, and parents need to work together to establish a

comfortable balance. Parents frequently report that they feel little direction has

been provided to them, specifically in the areas of school policy, confidentiality,

and discipline.

Time conflicts

Parents often state that time is the single greatest barrier to volunteering,

attending meetings, and joining decision-making committees at their children's

school (Becker & Epstein, 1982). These activities are often scheduled during

times when parents are working or have other obligations. A possible solution to

this barrier is being flexible and creative in scheduling meetings and events.

Scheduling meetings during the mornings, evenings, and weekends may allow

every parent the opportunity to attend (National PTA, 2000). Schools, families,

and community members need to work together to find ways of using both time

and community resources effectively to support each other (National PTA, 2000).








Welcoming atmosphere

Some parents may not be as involved as they would like because they

feel unwelcomed in their children's school. Staff interactions, attitudes, and the

physical appearance of some schools may be intimidating to parents and make

them feel unwelcomed. The National PTA (2000) suggests holding an in-service

training for all faculty to help them become aware of the importance of parent

involvement and to acquire the skills necessary to interact with parents

successfully (National PTA, 2000).

Clarity of parents' roles

Parents play a significant role in their children's development and

education. When teachers and administrators misunderstand the roles parents

play, it has serious implications on parent involvement. It is imperative for

teachers and administrators to understand the roles parents see themselves

playing in their children's life and education.

Teachers and administrators are not the only ones who misunderstand

parent's roles. Parents often misunderstand their own roles. According to the

National PTA (2000), some parents feel it is their job to send their children to

school clean, fed, and with good manners, while others want to play a more

active role in their children's learning but do not want to overstep their bounds.

The National PTA suggests that to prevent this from happening, educators must

emphasize, in a nonthreatening way, the value of the contributions parents can

make with home learning.








One of the biggest misunderstandings that can be made by educators is to

assume that parents are not able to help their children succeed in school

because of their own inadequate educational background. This does a great

disservice to both the parent and student. Another incorrect assumption that

parents make is that their children's learning and school experiences are similar

to what they experienced when they were in school. Research by Lewis and

Henderson (1997, as cited in National PTA, 2000) suggests if parents are valued

and perceived as able to help their children academically, they are much more

likely to be actively involved, regardless of their socioeconomic status or level of

education.

Clarity of teachers' roles

There are several professional barriers to effective parent involvement in

school decision-making. One hypothesis is educators and administrators feel

that their educational training establishes a boundary between themselves and

parents (National PTA, 2000). Although the expertise gained during professional

training is essential to the function of schools, parent involvement should not be

viewed as a threat to that authority. A second hypothesis is that because

teachers have traditionally been teaching and running their classrooms

independently, they may not know how to welcome and work with others in this

domain.

Model of Parental Involvement Process

In order to promote optimal parent involvement, it is imperative to attempt

to explain parents' fundamental decisions about involvement. A number of








parent characteristics interact with school characteristics and policies and may

contribute to this decision-making process. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandier

(1997) believe that parental decision-making about involvement occurs in both

explicit and implicit ways. "Parents are sometimes explicitly reflective, aware,

and active in relation to their decisions about being involved in their children's

education; in other circumstances, they appear to respond to external events or

unevaluated demands from significant aspects of the environment" (Hoover-

Dempsey & Sandier, 1997, p. 4).

Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler's (1995, as cited in Hoover-Dempsey &

Sander, 1997) model of parental involvement suggests that "parent's

involvement decisions and choices are based on several constructs drawn from

their own ideas and experiences as well as on other constructs growing out of

environmental demands and opportunities" (p. 8). The model has five levels;

however, this study is will focus primarily on the first level (see Figure 1). The

first level of the model suggests that parents' fundamental decision to become

involved in their children's education is a function of the following three

constructs: a) the parent's construction of his/her role in the child's life, b) the

parents' sense of efficacy for helping their children succeed in school, and c) the

general invitations, demands, and opportunities for parental involvement

presented by both the child and the child's school. According to the argument of

the full model (Figure 1), parents become













Childlstudent outcomes

Skills and knowledge
Personal sense of efficacy for doing well in school


Temperinglmediating variables


Parents use of developmentally
Appropriate involvement strategies


Fit between parents' involvement
actions & school expectations


Mechanisms through which parental involvement
Influences child outcomes


Reinforcement


Instruction


Parent's choice of involvement forms, influenced by,


Specific domains of
parent's skill &
knowledge


Mix of demands on total
parental time and energy
(family, employment)


Specific
invitations &
demands for
involvement from
child and school


Parent's
Parent's construction
of the parental role


basic involvement decision, influenced by,
Parent's sense of efficacy General
for helping his/her children invitations &
succeed in school demand for
involvement from
child & school


FIGURE 1

Model of Parental Involvement Process


Note. From Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., & Sandier, H. M. (1995). Parental
involvement in education: Why does it make a difference? Teachers College
Record, 95, 327.


Level 5


Level 4


Level 3


Modeling


Level 2


Level 1








involved in their children's education because they have developed a
parental role construction that includes involvement, because they have a
positive sense of efficacy for helping children succeed in school, and
because they perceive general opportunities and invitations for
involvement from their children and their children's schools (Hoover-
Dempsey & Sandier, 1997, p. 31).

Parental Role Construction

The model suggests that one factor that determines whether parents will

be involved in their children's education is construction of the parental role. More

specifically, what do parents believe they are supposed to do in regards to their

children's education and educational progress? A review of psychological and

educational research by Hoover-Dempsey and Sandier (1997) suggests that

parents' construction of the parental role is likely to be influenced by "general

principles guiding their definition of the parental role, their beliefs about child

development and child-rearing, and their beliefs about appropriate parental

home-support roles in children's education" (p. 8). In general, parents' role

construction is important in the involvement process because it establishes the

basic range of activities parents view as important, necessary, and permissible

for their own actions with and on behalf of their children (Hoover-Dempsey &

Sander, 1997).

When applied to parent's choices to be involved in their children's

education, the basic tenants of role theory suggest that the groups to which

parents belong (i.e., family, the child's school, the workplace, churches, the

broader culture) hold expectations about appropriate role behaviors, including

behaviors related to parents' involvement in their children's educational process.

These groups will communicate their role expectations to the parents and all








members. When the expectations of the group call for positive involvement in

children's education, parents are likely to become involved to some extent.

Epstein and Dauber (1991) found that when all constituents agreed on

parental involvement, school involvement programs were stronger then when

such agreement was missing. On the contrary, if parents belonged to groups

that expected little or no parental involvement in their children's education, they

were much less likely to choose to become actively involved. One thing to keep

in mind is that parents often participate in more than one group (i.e., child's

school, workplace) and the expectations for appropriate parental involvement

behaviors may be mixed across groups. In this situation, parents are likely to

experience conflict or a lack of consensus about what are the most appropriate

role behaviors.

Parental role construction and how it pertains to child development

Parents' ideas about child development, child-rearing, and child outcomes

also seem to affect parents' decision to become involved in their children's

education. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandier (1997) suggest that the following

specific sets of beliefs are important in parents' decision-making process of

whether to be involved in their children's schooling: a) parents' ideas about child

development (parents' beliefs about how children grow and develop, their beliefs

about what children need from parents); b) their beliefs about specific, desirable

child-rearing outcomes; and c) their beliefs about the effectiveness of specific

child-rearing practices in promoting desired outcomes.








Parents' Sense of Efficacy

A second major construct that influences parents' involvement is their

sense of efficacy for helping their children succeed in school. In other words, do

parents believe that their involvement can have a positive influence on the

educational outcomes of their children? Self efficacy refers to an individual's

capabilities for successful coping in current and future situations (Bandura,

1982), which in the context of parent involvement implies that "parents will guide

their actions (i.e., make their involvement choices) by thinking through, in

advance of their behavior, what outcomes are likely to follow the actions they

might take" (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997, p. 17).

Ozer and Bandura (1990) define self-efficacy as being concerned with the
"motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to exercise

control over given events" (p. 472). Hoover-Dempsey et al. (1992) define parent

efficacy as parents' beliefs about their overall ability to influence their children's

development and educational outcomes, their specific effectiveness in

influencing their children's school learning, and their own influence relative to that

of their peers and their children's teachers. Parenting efficacy can also be

thought of as composed of the following three variables: parents' confidence in

helping their children with their school work, parents' perceptions of their

confidence as their children progress to higher grades, and parents' beliefs that

they can influence the school through school governance (Eccles & Harold,

1993). "In general, sense of efficacy for helping children succeed in school

appears linked to parents' involvement decisions because it enables parents to








assume that their involvement activities will positively influence children's

learning and school performance" (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997, p. 21).

The development of parenting efficacy

The development of parenting efficacy seems to stem from three primary

sources (Coleman & Karraker, 1997). First, relationships between infants and

toddlers and their parents significantly influence how children interact across the

life span. Second, although cultures and communities influence parenting beliefs

and values, their influence may not be as great as previously thought. Goodnow

(1985) reviewed several studies examining cultural differences pertaining to

parenting styles and characteristics. More specifically, she wanted to examine

how parents account for change and variation in their ideas about parenting and

development, and how parents' lives or their times affect their ideas. Goodnow

found that parents are not passive recipients of cultural information and values.

Instead they screen cultural information that is presented to them and select those

which are in accordance with their own beliefs. The third influence on the

development of parenting efficacy is the actual experience between parents and

children, either their own or others.

Parenting efficacy does not appear to be a permanent construct.

Therapeutic interventions such as positive relationship building, direct child care

instruction, and modeling of appropriate parenting have proven to increase

parenting efficacy (Coleman & Karraker, 1997). Since parenting efficacy is not

permanent, parental involvement in education may increase or change parenting

efficacy.








According to Coleman and Karraker (1997), parents must possess the

following in order to feel efficacious: a) knowledge of appropriate child care

responses, b) confidence in their abilities to carry out those tasks, and c) the

belief that children will respond unpredictably and that others will be supportive of

their efforts. Teachers and schools often provide these components to parents

and indirectly help parents feel more efficacious. An increase in knowledge and

empowerment are often key components of parent involvement, both of which

are essential to effective parenting.

High parenting efficacy

People with a high sense of self-efficacy are confident in their own abilities,

see problems more as challenges rather than events that are beyond their control,

and show tenacity when faced with difficult situations (Jerusalem & Mittage, 1995,

as cited in Coleman & Karraker, 1997). High parenting self-efficacy is strongly

related to the parents' ability to provide a healthy, happy, and nurturing

environment for their children. "Parents with a higher sense of efficacy for helping

their children succeed will tend to see themselves as capable in this domain, thus

they are likely to believe that their involvement will make a positive difference for

their children" (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997, p. 19). In addition, they

persevere when faced with difficulties related to their achievement of successful

involvement or their children's difficulties in meeting school demands. To

summarize, it appears that a higher sense of efficacy seems essential to a positive

decision about parent involvement.








Low parentingq efficacy

People with a low sense of self-efficacy tend to display significant levels of

self-doubt and anxiety when faced with adversity, assume responsibility for failure

not success, avoid challenge, and cope dysfunctionally with problems (Jerusalem

& Mittag, 1995, as cited in Coleman & Karraker, 1997). Parents with a low sense

of efficacy are "likely to avoid involvement for fear of confronting their own

perceived inadequacies or because of their assumptions that the involvement will

not produce positive outcomes for themselves or their children" (Hoover-Dempsey

& Sander, 1997, p. 19).

Parent knowledge and skill. A factor likely to contribute to parent efficacy,

and by extension, their participation, is the parents' own knowledge and skill.

Parents may not know how to contribute to their children's school. Some parents

believe they have talents, but they do not know whether those talents are

needed, or how to contribute them. The National PTA (2000) suggests not

waiting for parents to offer their help, but seek them out. Teachers should invite

parents to share their knowledge and skills with them.

General Invitations, Demands, and OpDortunities for Parent Involvement

According to the model, the final construct that influences parents'

involvement decisions consists of general opportunities, invitations, and demands

for involvement. Do parents perceive that the school and their children want them

to be involved? Invitations for parents' involvement can come from both the

children and the school.








General opportunities, invitations, and demands presented by the child

Research suggests that there is a greater tendency for parents of younger,

as opposed to older children, to be involved in their children's education (Eccles &

Harold, 1993). The research is mixed as to whether children's overall level of

performance influences parents' decision to become involved. Dauber and Epstein

(1993) reported that parents of children who were doing better academically

reported more school-related involvement opposed to parents whose children were

doing less well. Coinciding with Dauber and Epstein, Delgado-Gaitan (1992) found

that parents of better early elementary readers were more likely to take on specific

involvement actions with and on behalf of their children. However, Eccles and

Harold (1993) found that mothers of lower-achieving young adolescents used more

involvement techniques than mothers of higher-achieving young adolescents.

In addition to age and academic functioning, children's personal qualities -

aspects of personality, learning style, and preferences may also influence

parents' decision to become involved (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997). Eccles

and Harold (1993) found that the quality of the parent-child relationship may

influence involvement decisions: Positive relationships likely encourage

involvement, while conflicted relationships likely discourage it. "Across the

elementary and secondary age span, it appears that such variables as children's

developmental levels, performance patterns, qualities of personality and learning

style may function as important influences on parental decisions about

involvement" (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997, p. 29).








General opportunities, invitations, and demands presented by the school

Schools and teachers greatly impact parents' decision to become involved

in their children's education. School organizations that are focused towards

understanding students' families often experience success in increasing parent

involvement and student performance (Comer & Hayes, 1991). Schools that

include parents in a variety of meaningful roles increase communication and trust

among parents and the school staff (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997).

Research suggests that patterns of teacher attitudes and invitations are

important to many parents' decisions to become involved (Epstein, 1986; Epstein &

Dauber, 1991; Eccles & Harold, 1993). Epstein (1986) compared teachers who

were leaders in parent involvement to teachers who were not leaders and found

that parents with teachers who were leaders were more positive about school and

more aware of teachers' interest in their involvement than were parents of teachers

who were not leaders. In addition, teachers who were leaders in parent

involvement worked to involve all parents, regardless of their socioeconomic level.

Combining the Constructs of Parent Involvement

According to Hoover-Dempsey and Sandier (1997) the most important

construct in the decision-making process appears to be the parent's role

construction. Parent's sense of efficacy seems to influence the decision process

second to role construction. Parents' belief that they are capable of helping their

children enhances the power of role construction to enable a positive decision.

Perceptions of general invitations and opportunities seem to have more of a limited








role; they appear to have the strongest impact when role construction and sense of

efficacy are moderate to low.

As shown in Figure 2, parents' decision to become involved is most positive

when their role construction is high and sense of efficacy is moderate to strong.

Weak role constructions appear to be related to the lowest likelihood of

involvement. In this scenario, parents generally do not believe they should be

involved in their children's education.

Four important observations can be made from Figure 2. First, moderate

to strong levels of positive role construction appear to be essential for high

likelihood of involvement. It is imperative for parents to feel that they should be

involved in their children's education. Second, parents' sense of efficacy for

helping their children with school appears to be an importance, but secondary.

Third, sense of efficacy by itself, without moderate to high levels of role

construction, does not appear likely to lead to a positive decision about

involvement. It is essential for the beliefs of "I could help" and "I should help" to

be combined; independently they do not make a positive impact. Fourth,

invitations appear to increase the chances of positive decisions about

involvement within various moderate-to-low combinations of the other two

constructs (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997).

Strategies for Improving Parental Involvement

Given the information documented in the previous section, parent

involvement is seen to have numerous benefits (e.g., Ballentine, 1999; Epstein et

al., 1997; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al., 1996). However, when most














Level of parental efficacy

Level of invitations and demands
from children and school High Medium Low


High/strong role construction

High H H H
Medium H H M
Low H M M

Medium/moderate role construction

High H H M
Medium M M M
Low M M L

Low/weak role construction

High M L L
Medium L L L
Low L L L

Note: H=high, M=moderate, L=low


FIGURE 2

Schematic Representation of Hypotheses Concerning the Likelihood of Parental
Involvement by Level of Role Construction

Note: From Hoover-Dempsey, K. V. & Sandier, H. M. (1997). Why do parents
become involved in their children's education? Review of Educational Research,
67, 3-42.








schools attempt to increase the involvement of parents, they are not successful

(Hornby, 2000). Careful analysis by Hornby revealed that attempts generally

focus on putting more effort into developing existing forms of parent-school

contact. This approach is referred to as first order change by Rosenthal and

Sawyers (1996) and seldom works. First order change occurs when

organizations respond to requests for change by appearing to do something

different, while the same basic methods and rules are used (Rosenthal &

Sawyers, 1996). Rosenthal and Sawyers propose that what is really needed is

second order change. Second order change "involves a more drastic alteration

in assumptions about working with parents, as well as the implementation of

different strategies for parent involvement. It requires a re-evaluation of the basis

for parent involvement and a willingness to try new approaches" (Hornby, 2000,

p. 151) changing both the rules and methods used. However, in order for this

change to occur, more systemic (Fisch et al., 1983, as cited in Hornby, 2000) and

ecological (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, as cited in Hornby, 2000) perspectives need to

be examined.

From a systemic perspective, in order to bring about change a disturbance

of the status quo of minimal parent involvement must first occur (Hornby, 2000).

For this to occur, a strategic intervention is needed to disturb the equilibrium. In

order for the intervention to be successful in changing the status quo, it needs to

be something quite different that what has been tried before. Systemic theory

suggests this strategic intervention will be what breaks the cycle of low parent

involvement and creates the wanted change in the school.








From an ecological perspective, the culture of the school and the social

environment in which the teachers work must support parent involvement in

education (Hornby, 2000). In this perspective, there are several components

within the education system responsible for determining how effectively parents

are involved in education. Therefore, attention must be paid to all components of

the education system in order for effective change to occur. The four primary

components of educational systems include: government; local education

authority; schools; and teachers. However, it is crucial to remember that

"developing a relationship based on trust between parents and professionals"

(Sussell et al., 1996, p. 55) is the key to any successful parent intervention.

Teacher Qualities that Influence Parent Involvement

Drawing on the ecological model, it becomes clear that parent involvement

involves complex relationships, and as such is influenced by parent and teacher

qualities. Several teacher factors influence parents' involvement in their

children's education. Research by Epstein and Dauber (1991) compared school

programs and teachers' practices of parent involvement in inner-city elementary

and middle schools. Overall, they found that when teachers make parent

involvement a part of their regular teaching practice parents are more confident

in their abilities to help their children in the elementary grades, increase their

interactions with their children at home, and rate their teachers as better teachers

overall. More specifically, they found that attitudes about parent involvement

were more positive for teachers who taught in self-contained classrooms and for

those who perceived high support for parent involvement from their students'








parents and colleagues. The success teachers had involving "hard-to-reach"

parents (i.e., working parents, less educated parents, single parents, etc) was

also positively correlated with more positive attitudes towards parent

involvement.

Epstein and Dauber (1991) also found differences in the level of parent

involvement between elementary and middle school. Teachers in elementary

schools reported significantly stronger programs in parent involvement then

teachers in middle schools. Differences were found in the areas of parenting and

child development, volunteers, learning activities at home, and decision making.

Teacher Efficacy

In the same way that parenting efficacy significantly impacts the ability to

parent, teacher efficacy is one teacher quality that consistently has been

identified as a key factor influencing teachers' practices (Ashton & Webb, 1983;

Benz, Bradley, Alderman, & Flowers, 1992; Dembo & Gibson, 1985; Henson,

Kogan, & Vacha-Haase, 2001; Kronberg, 1999; Weasmer & Woods, 1998),

presumably including their willingness and skill at involving parents. "Teacher

efficacy has consistently been described as one of the most significant

contributors to teacher effectiveness and positive student outcomes" (Kronberg,

1999, p. 7). Bandura (1986) defines perceived self-efficacy as one's judgment of

one's "capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain

designated types of performances. It is not concerned with the skills one has but

with judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses" (p. 391).








Therefore, teaching efficacy is defined as the perceived degree of effectiveness

of instruction on learning (Weasmer & Woods, 1998).

Teaching efficacy exists on two levels: general teaching efficacy and

personal teaching efficacy. General teaching efficacy refers to teachers'

perceptions that teaching can influence students' learning (Weasmer & Woods,

1998). Bandura (1986) refers to this as outcome expectancy, whereby a person

believes, "This can be done." A positive sense of efficacy suggests that students

can learn regardless of their capabilities, home, or peer influences. Teachers

with a low sense of general teaching efficacy believe that students cannot or will

not learn, regardless of the influences exerted by schools.

Personal teaching efficacy refers to an individual teacher's belief in his/her

own effectiveness in teaching, a perception that may be situation specific (Ashton

& Webb, 1983; Benz, Bradley, Alderman, & Flowers, 1992). Bandura (1986)

refers to this as efficacy expectancy, whereby a person believes, "I can do this."

Teachers with a high sense of personal teaching efficacy are more likely to

expect that all students can learn and to feel responsible for that learning.

Teachers with a low sense of personal teaching efficacy believe that they lack

certain skills to be effective. It is their lack of skill, not the student that prevents

learning from occurring. Clearly, "one's personal teaching efficacy governs one's

motivation, thought processes, emotions, and willingness to expend energy"

(Weasmer & Woods, 1998, p. 245).

According to Kronberg (1999), there are "strong correlations between

teacher efficacy and classroom practices" (p. 7). Ashton and Webb (1983)








examined teachers' sense of efficacy and the extent to which teachers believe

they can influence student learning. They found that teachers with high efficacy

attitudes tended to maintain high academic standards, concentrated on academic

instruction, monitored students' on-task behavior, and developed a warm

supportive classroom environment. In addition, they held positive attitudes

toward their low-achieving students and worked to build friendly, non-threatening

relationships with them. Teachers with low efficacy attitudes tended to

concentrate their efforts, concerns, and affection on high-achieving students;

sorted and stratified their classes according to ability and gave preferential

treatment; and had negative attitudes toward their low-achieving students, using

negative means of controlling their behavior.

Dembo and Gibson (1985) proposed that lowered levels of parent-teacher

contact may be due to the frustration and inefficacy resulting from teachers'

reactions to characteristics of low-achieving students' parents. Research by

Gibson and Dembo (1984) found that important behavioral differences that lead

to variation in student achievement exist between high- and low-efficacy

elementary school teachers. These behaviors include classroom organization,

instruction, and teacher feedback provided to students who are experiencing

difficulty. More specifically, they found that low-efficacy teachers spent almost 50

percent of their time in small-group instruction, while high-efficacy teachers spent

only 28 percent of their time in small groups.

Significant differences were also found in feedback patterns following a

student's incorrect response. Low-efficacy teachers were more likely than high-








efficacy teachers to give the answer, ask another student, or allow another

student to call out the correct response. High-efficacy teachers were more

effective than low-efficacy teachers in leading students to correct responses

through their questioning (Gibson & Dembo, 1984).

Grade Level

The current research suggests that there are substantial differences in the

levels of parent involvement between elementary, middle, and high school.

Parents are much more likely to be involved in their children's education in the

elementary grades, as opposed to middle and high school. Furthermore,

significant differences in the levels of parent involvement exist within elementary

grades. Lower grade levels have been associated with teachers' use of more

parent involvement strategies (Becker & Epstein, 1982).

According to Epstein (1985), three factors influenced teachers' use of

parent involvement practices. First, the grade level being taught was the most

important influence. Teachers of younger students (i.e., grade 1) made more

frequent use of parent involvement practices than teachers of older students (i.e.,

grade 3 and 5). Second, parents actively involved at their children's school

influenced teachers to use more parent involvement in learning activities at

home. Parents who are actively involved in their children's school convey the

message to teachers that parents are willing to improve the school and its

programs. Teachers may be more willing to ask all parents, not just those who

are involved, to conduct learning activities at home (Epstein, 1985). Third,

"teacher commitment of time and energy to the organization of substantive








exchanges with parents increases the teacher's use of parent involvement in

learning activities at home"(Epstein, 1985, p. 20).

Teacher Training

Another factor that influences parent involvement is teacher training.

Despite the support for parent involvement from a research perspective,

relatively few teachers make systemic use of parent involvement activities

(Epstein, 1985; Greenwood & Hickman, 1991). In part, this may be due to "the

lack of attention to parent involvement theories and practices in teacher training

programs" (Stallworth & Williams, 1981, as cited in Epstein, 1985, p. 23).

Chavkin and Williams (1988) surveyed 575 teacher educators and found that

only 4% indicated they taught a complete course on parent involvement; 15%

reported providing part of a course on the topic, and 37% reported having one

class period on the topic. Overall, the survey found that very little undergraduate

training in parent involvement was occurring for prospective elementary school

teachers.

In the same study, when teachers and principals were asked if training in

parent involvement was necessary, 70% of the teachers and over 80% of the

principals agreed a required course was necessary (Chavkin & Williams, 1988).

Swick and McKnight (1989) found that when conditions are arranged to promote

parent involvement, teachers respond in a positive manner. Teachers who were

educated with regard to the value of parent involvement were more actively

involved in professional organizations, given essential supports (class size,

administrative support), and were most supportive of parent involvement.








Teachers who did not support parent involvement appeared to lack the

philosophical basis for attempting such efforts and lacked a work setting that

expected and promoted parent involvement.

According to Epstein, most teachers lack the skills and knowledge to work

effectively with parents. Pre-service and in-service training is needed to give

teachers information on the positive and negative effects of parent involvement,

as well as, how to design, implement, and evaluate the practices for their own

classrooms.

Recent research by Shores (1998) indicates that preservice training in

parent involvement has received increased attention at the undergraduate level.

The Harvard Family Research Project (Shartrand et al., 1994, as cited in Shores,

1998) has recommended the following criteria for preservice teacher training

programs: a) a minimum of five required courses that address parent

involvement, b) coverage of at least four types of parent involvement, c)

experiential learning opportunities, and d) integration of parent involvement as a

theme across the curriculum. Research by Shores (1998) suggests that teacher

educators are incorporating aspects of parent involvement by either embedding it

into their already existing curriculum or by teaching an entire course from the

perspective of family involvement.

Teacher Skill

Epstein (1985) conducted a study examining whether teachers could

involve more parents than were currently involved, particularly those who would

not get involved on their own without leadership from the teacher. In this study,








parent involvement was defined as the teacher's requests and instructions to

parents to assist at home with learning activities related to their children's

schoolwork. Her data did not support the widespread belief that teachers use

parent involvement activities only with better-educated parents. Teachers who

were leaders in the use of parent involvement (i.e., teachers who were

successful in involving parents) were equally likely to use parent involvement

techniques with parents who had many, some, or few years of formal schooling,

were poor, and/or single parents. Teachers who were not leaders in the use of

parent involvement (i.e., teachers who were not successful in involving parents)

and whose students' parents had little education, claimed they did not use parent

involvement because the parents lacked the ability and/or willingness to help.

Parents whose children's teachers were leaders in parent involvement

were significantly more likely than other parents to report that they: a) recognized

that the teacher worked hard to interest parents in the instructional program, b)

received most of their ideas for home involvement from the teachers, c) felt that

they should help their children at home, d) understood more presently than

previously about what their child was being taught in school, e) were more

positive about the teacher's interpersonal skills, and f) rated the teacher higher in

overall teaching ability (Epstein, 1985). Teachers who did not frequently involve

parents in their children's education made more stereotypic judgements about

the involvement and abilities of less educated parents, lower socioeconomic

status parents, and single parents. These findings suggest that "by getting all

parents involved, teachers may be able to help students overcome difficulties in








mastering basic skills experienced by many students from less-educated

families" (Epstein, 1985, p. 20).

In the same study, Epstein (1985) examined whether teachers treated

single parents differently from married parents in terms of parental involvement,

and how parents in differently structured families perceived the teachers'

requests. She found that single and married parents were similar in their

perceptions about parent involvement. However, teachers' perceptions and

expectations were significantly different for the two groups. Teachers who were

leaders in the use of parent involvement made equal demands on single and

married parents to help at home, and rated single and married parents as equally

helpful and responsible on learning activities. Teachers who were not leaders

made more demands on single parents, and rated single parents as less helpful

and responsible on learning activities. Teacher-leaders were more likely to

obtain positive results from all parents not just those who were known to be

helpful to teachers and to children.

These findings suggest that the differences were among the teachers -

not parent marital status which influenced parent awareness and recognition of

teachers' efforts. In conclusion, according to Epstein and Dauber (1991),
"studies will continue to show that better educated families are more involved, on

average, in their children's education until researchers include measures of

teacher practices to involve all parents" (p. 290).








Role of Socioeconomic Status

Socioeconomic status is a complex family characteristic, that by

extension, affects schools in profound ways. While it has been well established

throughout the literature that family status variables (i.e., income, education,

ethnicity, marital status) are related to parental involvement and, subsequently,

children's success in school (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997), less attention

has been directed toward family involvement specifically.

According to Lareau (1987, 2000, 2001), social class has a powerful

impact on parent involvement patterns. She argues that, "social class

(independent of ability) does affect schooling. Teachers ask for parent

involvement; social class shapes the resources which parents have at their

disposal to comply with teachers' requests for assistance" (Lareau, 2000, p. 2).

For example, between 40 and 60 percent of working-class and lower-class

parents fail to attend parent-teacher conferences (Lareau, 1987). Middle-class

parents consistently take a more active role than working-class and lower-class

parents in the areas of promoting verbal development, reading to children, taking

children to the library, attending school events, enrolling children in summer

school, and making complaints to the principal.

Studies by Lareau (1987, 2000, 2001) found that parents of differing

socioeconomic backgrounds appear to have different understandings of the

support roles they should take in their children's elementary education. Lareau

examined the beliefs of parents in a predominantly working-class school with

those of parents in a predominantly upper-middle-class school and found that the








working-class parents had a "separated" view of home and school. By
"separated", Lareau implies that working-class parents tended to believe that

their roles involved getting their children ready for school (i.e., having good

manners, getting them to school on time), not extending beyond these basic

preparations. These parents demonstrated a strong tendency to accept schools'

decisions about their children, such as classroom placement and/or retention.

Lareau suggests that these parents accepted the schools decisions because

they believed that schools, not parents, were primarily responsible for making

decisions about educational progress.

Conversely, upper-middle-class parents were characterized as having an

interconnectedness between home and school. These parents tended to see

themselves as playing an integral role, with the school, in their children's

education. These parents saw it as their role to actively monitor their children's

progress and education, often intervening in school decisions when necessary.

Lareau (2000) provides three possible explanations for such dramatic

differences in working-class and upper-middle-class parents views of parent

involvement: 1) that parents differ in how much they value education; 2) that

schools produce these patterns as a result of substantial differences in the

quality and quantity of interactions with parents; and 3) that social class provides

parents with different resources and outlooks, which in turn shapes their

behavior.

Contrary to research by Lareau, other researchers have found that family

status variables do not fully explain parents' decisions to become involved in their








children's education; nor do these variables explain the linkages between parent

involvement and child and adolescent school outcomes (Hoover-Dempsey &

Sander, 1997). Slaughter-Defoe (1985) found that socioeconomic status does

not determine parents' thinking, actions, or influence related to involvement in

their children's education.

A family's status does not always predispose them to a predictable or

fixed outcome. For example, predispositions grounded in status do not appear to

determine the value parents put on education, their wishes to be involved or their

involvement in their children's school progress, their interest in having their

children succeed in school, or their aspirations for their children's achievement

(Lareau, 1987). Lowden (1993, as cited in Karther & Lowden, 1997) examined

low socioeconomic families in Appalachia and North Carolina and found that

parents who experienced school failure still desired education for their children.

These parents hoped for higher school success for their children than they had,

and had an appreciation for teachers.

Summary

This literature review describes the importance of parent involvement, as

well as factors that inhibit or promote it. Although teacher attitudes and beliefs

are implicated by several authors (e.g., Epstein et al., 1997; Hoover-Dempsy &

Sander, 1997; Hornby, 2000) as important contributory factors, attitudes and

underlying explanations for them have received little if any direct attention. The

purpose of this study was to attempt to ascertain fundamental factors that

influence teachers' perceptions of parent involvement. Given the literature








reviewed here, several factors seem likely to contribute to teacher expectations

and are explored by this study, including teacher efficacy, training, years of

experience, and school socioeconomic status.

Research suggests that there are substantial differences in the levels of

parent involvement between elementary, middle, and high school. Parents are

much more likely to be involved in their children's education in the elementary

grades, as opposed to middle and high school. Furthermore, significant

differences in the levels of parent involvement exist within elementary grades.

Lower grade levels have been associated with teachers' use of more parent

involvement strategies. Because involvement varies across levels of education,

this study used only early elementary teachers, thereby controlling for this effect.












CHAPTER 3
METHOD

Participants

The subjects for this study consisted of kindergarten through third grade

elementary school teachers in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. All teachers

worked in public elementary schools for Anne Arundel County. A letter was sent

to all 77 elementary schools in the county requesting participation in the study.

Of the 77 elementary schools, 34 principals granted entrance into their school.

Surveys were sent to all schools in which principals consented. Six of the

schools that participated were Title I schools. The percentage of Title I schools

in the sample was reflective of the population. Eighteen-percent of the schools in

the county are Title I schools and 17.6% of the schools in the sample were Title I

schools. A total of 353 surveys were distributed to the kindergarten through third

grade teachers and 170 were returned-a 48.1% return rate.

Setting

Anne Arundel County is the fifth largest school system in Maryland and

one of the fiftieth largest school systems in the United States. The population of

Anne Arundel County is 497,893 with 81.3% Caucasian origin, 13.6% African

American origin, 2.6% Hispanic or Latino origin, 2.3% Asian origin, .3% American

Indian or Native Alaskan origin, and .1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

origin.








Anne Arundel County has a staff of more than 4,600 teachers and is very

culturally and economically diverse with a student population of nearly 75,000.

There are 117 schools in Anne Arundel County: 77 elementary schools, 19

middle schools, 12 high schools, and 9 specialized schools. This study focused

on elementary schools. Anne Arundel County has 15 Title I elementary schools,

six of which participated in the study.

Measures

Parent Involvement Rating Scale (PIRS)

Information on teachers' perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent

involvement was obtained from teachers' responses on the Parent Involvement

Rating Scale (see Appendix C). The scale was developed by the researcher and

is based on Epstein's (1987) five types of parent involvement: parenting,

communication, volunteering, helping with learning activities at home, and

decision-making. Each item assesses a different type of parent involvement.

The scale consists of 21 items assessing teachers' attitudes about parent

involvement. Participants were asked to circle the number that best describes

how important they believe each item is using a five-point Likert scale ranging

from not at all important (1) to extremely important (5). See Table 1 for sample

items.

Focus group

The instrument was further reviewed by a panel of 4 university faculty with

expertise in parent involvement in education and was deemed consistent with the








literature. As part of instrument development, a focus group was conducted to

examine the content validity of the measure. The participants

Table 1. Sample of Parent Involvement Rating Scale
1. Students arrive with the supplies (i.e., pencils and 1 2 3 4 5
paper) necessary to complete their schoolwork. (parenting)
2. Parents ensure their children's homework is completed 1 2 3 4 5
each night. (learning activities at home)
3. Teachers invite parents to class to talk about their jobs 1 2 3 4 5
or areas of expertise. (volunteering
4. Teachers remind parents of important school meetings. 1 2 3 4 5
(communication)
5. Parents attend parent advisory committee meetings. 1 2 3 4 5
(decision-making)

were 4 elementary school teachers from Alachua County in Gainesville, Florida.

The researcher met with the elementary school teachers to discuss the study,

obtain consent for participation, and distribute materials (see Appendix D). The

focus group participants were asked to complete the Parent Involvement Rating

Scale. The 21 items were presented in random order to the focus group

participants.

After completing the measure, they completed a questionnaire designed to

provide feedback about the measure. For example, participants were asked

whether any of the items were confusing and to provide suggestions for

improving the clarity of the measure. The information from the focus group and

committee members' suggestions were used to create the final draft of the

survey.

Pilot study

A pilot study examining the reliability of the final draft was conducted as

part of instrument development. The participants were 30 teachers from P. K.








Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville, Florida and Crofton

Woods Elementary School in Crofton, Maryland (see Appendix E). The internal

consistency reliabilities yielded a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .85. According

to Gall, Borg, and Gall (1996), tests that yield scores with a reliability of .80 or

higher are sufficiently reliable for research purposes.

Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES)

Information on teachers' efficacy was obtained using the Teacher Efficacy

Scale (TES) (see Appendix F) developed by Gibson and Dembo (1984). This

measure asks teachers to indicate "the degree to which they agree or disagree

with each statement" on a six-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree

(1) to strongly agree (6).

The TES has two 8-item scales: a general teaching efficacy scale and a

personal teaching efficacy scale (Fritz, Miller-Heyl, Kreutzer, & MacPhee, 1995;

Gibson & Dembo, 1984). General teaching efficacy represents the belief that

teachers' ability to bring about change is significantly limited by external factors

to the teacher (i.e., home environment, family background, parental influences)

(Gibson & Dembo, 1984). This scale measures the belief that external factors

constrain any teacher's ability to bring about change (Fritz, Miller-Heyl, Kreutzer,

& MacPhee, 1995).

Personal teaching efficacy represents the belief that the respondent has

the skills and abilities to bring about student learning. Thus, this scale measures

respondents' belief in their personal ability to bring about changes in student

learning and behavior (Fritz, Miller-Heyl, Kreutzer, & MacPhee, 1995). Analysis








of internal consistency reliabilities yielded Cronbach's alpha coefficients of .75 for

the General Teaching Efficacy factor, .78 for the Personal Teaching Efficacy

factor, and .79 for the total 16 items (Gibson & Dembo, 1984). A multitrait-

multimethod analysis supported both convergent and discriminant validity for

both scales.

Teacher Demographic Information

Teachers also were asked to complete the Teacher Information Survey

(see Appendix G). This survey was developed by the researcher to obtain

demographic information about the participants and their schools. Questions

addressed their backgrounds (i.e., years of experience, educational level,

gender, etc.) as well as their teaching environments (i.e., average socioeconomic

status of their students). In addition, it included three questions that asked about

the teachers' previous exposure and/or training in parent involvement and eight

questions about teachers' behaviors pertaining to parent involvement. This

information was used in conjunction with the Parent Involvement Rating Scale

and the TES to ascertain which factors influence teachers' use of parent

involvement.

Procedure

In the fall of 2002, a letter was sent to the principal at each elementary

school in Anne Arundel County inviting participation in the study and requesting

the number of kindergarten through third grade teachers at their school (see

Appendix A). Forty-four percent of the principals agreed to participate. Once

principal permission was obtained, all kindergarten through third grade teachers








were given a research packet containing a consent form (see Appendix B),

Parent Involvement Rating Scale, TES, and Teacher Information Survey and

invited to participate. Research packets were distributed to 353 teachers in

participating schools. The order of administration was consistent across

participants: Parent Involvement Rating Scale, TES, and a Teacher Information

Survey. After completing the research packets, participating teachers were

instructed to mail them to the principal investigator in the self-addressed,

stamped envelope provided. Three weeks after distribution of research packets,

postcards were sent to all eligible teachers in the participating schools as a

reminder to those teachers who had not completed the questionnaires and a

thank you to those who had completed the questionnaires (see Appendix H).

Data were collected until 170 completed research packets were obtained.

All participants, including those who did not wish to participate, were

treated fairly. The number of participants in this study allowed for sufficient

power in data analysis.

Analyses

This study examined teachers' perceptions of parent involvement based

on teacher- and school-related variables such as teacher efficacy, years of

teaching experience, preservice teacher training, and schools' socioeconomic

status. Specifically, this study addressed the following research question: What

are the effects of teacher efficacy, years of teaching experience, and preservice

teacher training on teachers' perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent

involvement while controlling for grade and schools' socioeconomic status?








Teacher efficacy is defined as the subjects total score on the Teacher

Efficacy Scale. Years of teaching experience is derived from a self report on the

Teacher Information Survey. Preservice teacher training is the self reported

amount of training on the Teacher Information Survey. Grade is the current

grade taught as reported on the Teacher Information Survey. Schools'

socioeconomic status is teachers' perceptions of schools' socioeconomic status

as reported on the Teacher Information Survey.


TeacherI
efficacy


Years of teaching
experience


Teacher
training


FIGURE 3

Model of Research Question


Teachers' Perception
of Teacher/Parent Roles
in Parent Involvement












CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

Descriptive Results

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of teacher efficacy,

years of teaching experience, and preservice teacher training on teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement. Table 2 shows the descriptive characteristics

of the teachers in the sample. The sample included representation from grades

kindergarten to third as follows: 18.2% taught kindergarten; 25.3%, first grade;

31.2%, second grade; and 24.7%, third grade. Of the 170 participants, nearly all

(97.1 %) were female. In terms of ethnicity, most of the sample was Caucasian

(95.9%) with 2.4% African-American, 1.2% Asian-American, and .6% Latino-a.

The majority of the sample (41.2%) held a Bachelor's degree, with 57.6% holding

Master's degrees, and 1.2% Specialist's degree.

Table 2. Characteristics of Teachers in Survey (N=170)
Teacher Characteristics n Percent
Grade Level:
Kindergarten 32 18.2
First 43 25.3
Second 53 31.2
Third 42 24.7
Gender:
Female 165 97.1
Male 5 2.9
Education:
Bachelor's 70 41.2
Master's 98 57.6
Specialist 2 1.2
Caucasian 163 95.9








Table 10. Continued
Teacher Characteristics n Percent
Ethnicity:
African-American 4 2.4
Asian-American 2 1.2
Latino-a 1 0.6
Latino-a 1 0.6

Years of teaching experience ranged from 1 to 38 years, with a mean of

12.54 years (SD=9.52). The mean age of participants was 38.62 years

(SD=1 1.60), ranging from 22 to 63 years of age. The Teacher Information

Survey also obtained information regarding teachers' perceptions of their

schools' socioeconomic status (see Table 3). A series of questions addressed

the extent of their preservice teacher training involving parents (see Table 4) and

their perceptions of the effectiveness of their preservice teacher training in this

area (see Table 6). Other questions addressed current professional practices,

including inservice teacher training involving parents (see Table 7) and whether

or not they send home a newsletter (see Table 8).

Table 3. Schools' Socioeconomic Status
Schools' socioeconomic status n Percent
Low 21 12.4
Low/middle 71 41.8
Middle 43 25.3
Middle/high 31 18.2
High 4 2.4

Teachers were asked to indicate the amount of preservice teacher training

they received: no training, one class period devoted to parent involvement, part

of a course devoted to parent involvement, or an entire course devoted to parent

involvement. The majority of the sample (60.6%) reported that they received no

training in parent involvement. One-fifth reported that part of a course was








devoted to parent involvement, with only 3.5% reporting having taken and entire

course.

Table 4. Preservice Teacher Training
Training n Percent
No training 103 60.6
One class period 27 15.9
Part of a course 34 20.0
Entire course 6 3.5

Due to the lack of variability within this independent variable the data were

reduced to categorized variables of "no training" or "some training" for the

purpose of the regression. The no training category remained the same. The

new category was formed by adding the results from one class period, part of a

course, and an entire course. With this new conceptualization, 60.6% received

no training in parent involvement and 39.4% received some training (see Table

5).

Table 5. Revised Preservice Teacher Training
Training n Percent
No training 103 60.6
Some training 67 39.4

Teachers were asked to indicate the extent to which they felt that their

preservice teacher training prepared them for working with parents: not at all, fair,

moderate, thorough, or extensive. It is important to note that the teachers were

not consistent in their reporting. Sixty percent of the sample stated that they

received no training in parent involvement, yet 56% stated that their preservice

teacher training did not prepare them at all for involving parents. Therefore,

although a few teachers reported they did not receive training in parent








involvement, they still believe their preservice training prepared them somewhat

for involving families.

Table 6. Teachers' Perceptions of their Preservice Teacher Training
Teachers' Perceptions n Percent


Not at all 95 55.9
Fair 39 22.9
Moderate 30 17.6
Thorough 5 2.9
Extensive 1 0.6

Table 7. Inservice Teacher Training in Parent Involvement
Inservice Teacher Training n Percent
0 hours 59 34.7
1-2 hours 67 39.4
3-5 hours 32 18.8
7-9 hours 4 2.4
10+ hours 8 4.7

Teachers were asked to report whether they sent home a classroom

newsletter, and if so, how often one was sent home. Ten percent reported that

they did not send home a classroom newsletter and 90.0% said they did send

home a classroom newsletter. Of the teachers who send home newsletters, the

majority reported sending them home either weekly or monthly.

Table 8. Newsletter Frequency
Frequency n Percent
No 17 10.0
Yes 153 90.0
Daily 2 1.2
Weekly 37 21.8
2 times a month 8 4.7
Monthly 102 60.0
Once a semester 3 1.8
Once a year 1 0.6


To determine the most common ways teachers involve parents of children

in their classes, they were asked to report on a scale of I (never) to 5 (often) how

often the following occurred in their own classroom: discuss parenting strategies








(e.g. discipline, development) with parents, send notes (other than report cards)

home discussing students' progress, send newsletters home to parents, invite

parents to chaperone class field trips, invite parents to talk about their jobs or

areas of expertise, provide parents with specific strategies to help children

master academic skills, send home suggestions for educational games or

activities, and remind parents of important school meetings.

Table 9 indicates that the most common ways teachers involve parents

are by sending notes home to discuss student progress, sending newsletters

home, inviting parents to chaperone field trips, sending home suggestions for

educational games, and reminding parents of important school meetings. Thirty

percent of the sample reported never or seldomly talking with parents about

parenting strategies and 37% of the sample reported never or seldomly inviting

parents to talk about their jobs, hobbies, or areas of expertise.

Table 9. Means Through Which Teachers Involve Parents
Ways teachers involve parents n Percent
Discuss parenting strategies with parents
1 (never) 18 10.6
2 38 22.4
3 (sometimes) 78 45.9
4 28 16.5
5 (never) 8 4.7
Send notes home discussing students' progress
1 (never) 0 0
2 5 2.9
3 (sometimes) 49 28.8
4 57 33.5
5 (often) 59 34.7
Send newsletters home to parents
1 (never) 18 10.6
2 10 5.9
3 (sometimes) 28 16.5
4 40 23.5
5 (often) 74 43.5








Table 9. Continued
Ways teachers involve parents n Percent
Invite parents to chaperone field trips
1 (never) 0 0
2 1 0.6
3 (sometimes) 11 6.5
4 26 15.3
5 (often) 132 77.6
Invite parents to talk about their jobs or areas of expertise
1 (never) 25 14.7
2 38 22.4
3 (sometimes) 71 41.8
4 22 12.9
5 (often) 14 8.2
Provide parents with specific strategies to help children
master academic skills
1 (never) 0 0
2 8 4.7
3 (sometimes) 44 25.9
4 70 41.2
5 (often) 48 28.2
Send home suggestions for educational games or
activities
1 (never) 2 1.2
2 22 12.9
3 (sometimes) 53 31.2
4 55 32.4
5 (often) 38 22.4
Remind parents of important school meetings
1 (never) 2 1.2
2 5 2.9
3 (sometimes) 20 11.8
4 58 34.1
5 (often) 85 50.0


The last item on the Teacher Information Survey asked teachers to

indicate the best way parents get in touch with them. It is important to note that

this item was optional for participants. Therefore, the total number of participants

that chose to answer this question was 165. Teachers were asked to choose all








that apply from the following list: notes, pick up/drop off, email, and/or phone (see

Table 10).

Table 10. Best Ways Parents get in Touch with Teachers
Method of Getting in Touch n Percent
Notes
Yes 164 96.5
No 1 0.6
Pick up/drop off
Yes 120 70.6
No 45 26.5
Email
Yes 34 20.0
No 131 77.1
Phone
Yes 161 94.7
No 3 1.8

Bivariate Correlations

To examine the relationships among the variables of interest (PIRS, TES,

Years of teaching experience, current grade taught, schools' socioeconomic

status, and preservice teacher training), Pearson Product Moment correlations

were calculated. The full correlation matrix can be seen in Table 11. As

expected, PIRS score was positively correlated with TES score (r = .215, p=.01).

Teacher efficacy was significantly correlated with preservice teacher training r =

.184, p=.05). Years of teaching experience was positively correlated with

teachers' perceptions of their schools' socioeconomic status (r = .304, p=.01) and

negatively correlated with preservice teacher training (r = -.303, p=.01). Current

grade being taught was not significantly correlated with any of the other

independent variables.








Table 11. Bivariate Correlations of Independent Variables
PIRS TES Yr Exp Grade SES PTT
PIRS 1.00 .215** .072 -.091 -.023 .041
TES 1.00 .104 .004 .120 .184*
Yr Exp 1.00 -.035 .304** -.303**
Grade 1.00 .014 .150
SES 1.00 -.022
PTT 1.00
* Correlation is significant at .05 level
**Correlation is significant at .01 level

A Pearson Product Moment correlation was conducted to examine the

relationship among additional variables of interest. Table 13 displays the

correlation between preservice teacher training and education (i.e., Bachelor's,

Master's) and Table 14 displays the correlation between education and years of

teaching experience. As can be seen, there is a significant, positive relationship

between education and years of teaching experience (r = .549, p=.01).

Table 13. Correlation Between PPT and Education
PTT Education
PPT 1.00 -.145
Education 1.00

Table 14. Correlation Between Education and Years of Teaching Experience
Education Yrs. Experience
Education 1.00 .549**
Yrs. Experience 1.00
**Correlation is significant at .01 level

Multiple Re-qression Analysis

The purpose of this study was to examine which independent variable(s)

best predict teachers' perceptions of parent involvement, specifically, to

determine which of the independent variables (teacher efficacy, years of teaching

experience, and preservice teacher training), best predicts teachers' perceptions

of parent involvement while controlling for schools' socioeconomic status and








grade. A multiple regression using SPSS was conducted to analyze the data.

The assumptions of independence, equal variance, linearity, and conditional

normality were met for the independent variables. Therefore, the use of a

multiple regression was determined to be appropriate to test for predictors of

teachers' perceptions of parent involvement.

Table 15 presents the results of the multiple regression analysis. Teacher

efficacy was the only independent variable that reached significance, preservice

teacher training and years of experience did not. Therefore, of the 3 independent

variables, teacher efficacy was the only variable that predicted teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement while controlling for schools' SES and grade.

These results imply that teachers with a higher sense of teacher efficacy have

more positive perceptions of parent involvement.

Table 15. Summary of Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Teachers'
Perceptions of Parent Involvement in Education (N=170)
Variable B SE B P t p
Teacher efficacy .205 .077 .208 2.66* .009
Years of teaching experience 6.470E-02 .068 .081 .957 .340
Grade -.677 .552 -.094 -1.22 .221
Schools' SES -.583 .608 -.071 -.884 .378
Preservice teacher training .632 1.28 .04 .484 .629
Note. R2=.063; Adjusted R2=.034
*p<.05
Note. Teacher efficacy is defined as the subjects total score on the Teacher
Efficacy Scale. Years of teaching experience is derived from a self report on the
Teacher Information Survey. Preservice teacher training is the self reported
amount of training on the Teacher Information Survey. Grade is the current
grade taught as reported on the Teacher Information Survey. Schools'
socioeconomic status is teachers' perceptions of schools' socioeconomic status
as reported on the Teacher Information Survey.












CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION

Parent involvement in education is a relatively new field and many gaps

exist in the current body of research. A review of the literature suggests that little

empirical evidence and research exists on teachers' perceptions of parent

involvement and why teachers initially decide to involve parents. More

specifically, which factors affect teachers' decisions to involve parents in their

children's education remains an unanswered question. The majority of the

literature focuses on ways in which students benefit from parent involvement

(Ballantine, 1999; Epstein et al., 1997; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al,

1996), with minimal research focusing on why parents initially decide to become

involved in their children's education (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997) and

little to no research focusing on why teachers value parent involvement or how

they decide to involve parents.

The purpose of this study was to identify key factors that influence

teachers' perceptions of parent involvement in education. This study was

designed to determine the effects of teacher efficacy, years of teaching

experience, and preservice teacher training on teachers' perceptions of

parent/teacher roles in parent involvement while controlling for grade and

schools' socioeconomic status. Findings from this study suggest the importance

of teacher efficacy for positive perceptions about parent involvement, effects of








teacher education and preparation, means through which teachers involve

parents, and preferred means through which teachers interact with parents.

Importance of Teacher Efficacy

Results suggest that teacher efficacy is one factor that predicts teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement. More specifically, teachers with a higher

sense of efficacy have more positive perceptions of parent involvement than

those with a lower sense of efficacy. In addition, post hoc analyses revealed that

teacher efficacy is positively correlated with preservice teacher training in parent

involvement.

Teacher efficacy is not concerned with the skills one has, but with the

perceptions of what one can do with those skills. Weasmer and Woods (1998)

found a connection between teaching efficacy and teachers' "motivation, thought

processes, emotions, and willingness to expend energy" (p. 245). Therefore,

findings from this study suggest that teachers with a higher sense of teacher

efficacy may be more motivated and willing to involve parents than teachers with

a lower sense of teacher efficacy.

One would expect teacher efficacy to be a predictor of teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement because it is a reflection of their perceptions of

themselves as teachers. Teachers who feel they possess the skills to be

effective teachers are more likely to have positive perceptions about involving

parents than teachers who feel they do not have the skills to be effective

teachers. Further, teachers with higher levels of teacher efficacy are more likely

to expect that all students can learn and that they are responsible for that








learning than teachers with lower levels of teacher efficacy (Ashton & Webb,

1983; Dembo & Gibson 1985; Kronberg, 1998)

Kronberg (1999) suggests that there are "strong correlations between

teacher efficacy and classroom practices" (p. 7). Ashton and Webb (1983)

examined teachers' sense of efficacy and the extent to which teachers believe

they can influence student learning and found that teachers with high efficacy

attitudes tended to maintain high academic standards, concentrated on academic

instruction, monitored students' on-task behavior, and developed a warm

supportive classroom environment. Results from this study suggest that

teachers with a higher sense of efficacy also tend to have more positive

perceptions about parent involvement in education than teachers with a lower

sense of efficacy.

The relationship may not be a straight forward one, however. The positive

correlation found between teacher training and efficacy suggests that preservice

training may operate as a mediating variable. Therefore, teachers who receive

preservice teacher training in parent involvement feel more efficacious, which in

turn leads to positive perceptions about parent involvement.

Implications for Teacher Education and Preparation

Preservice teacher training and years of experience do not appear to be

predictors of teachers' perceptions of parent involvement. In fact, a negative

relationship between the two variables was found. This suggests that new

teachers are more likely to have received preservice teacher training than more

experienced teachers. Results from this study suggest that over half of the








participating teachers received no preservice training in parent involvement, one-

fifth received only one class period, and one-fifth received part of a course.

These results corroborate with Chavkin and Williams' (1988) research suggesting

that very little, if any, preservice teacher training is occurring at the

undergraduate level. However, it is important to keep in mind that the mean

years of teaching experience for this study was 12 years, indicating that much of

the sample received their preservice education around the time of Chavkin and

Williams' study. The negative relationship between years of experience and

training also corroborates with Shores' (1999) research, suggesting that teacher

educators are beginning to incorporate parent and family involvement into their

curriculums. Therefore, results from this study appear to reflect the current trend

of teacher educators incorporating parent/family involvement into the curriculum.

It is important to note that due to the lack of variability within this

independent variable (preservice teacher training), the data were reduced to

categorical variables of "no training" or "some training" for the purpose of the

regression. This is an important finding in and of itself, demonstrating that, at

least at the time the teachers in this sample were trained, over half of the teacher

training programs did not incorporate information on parent involvement into their

curriculum.

Interestingly, some teachers may perceive their competence to work with

parents as operating independently of formalized training. Teachers in this

sample were inconsistent in their reporting: sixty percent of the sample stated

that they received no training in parent involvement, yet only 56% stated that








their preservice teacher training did not prepare them at all for involving parents.

Therefore, although a few teachers reported they did not receive specific training

in parent involvement, they still believe their preservice training prepared them

somewhat for involving families.

This study also examined the amount of inservice training hours teachers

received in parent involvement. Results suggest that current practicing teachers

receive minimal inservice teacher training in parent involvement. Research

suggests that involving parents is very difficult (Becker & Epstein, 1982; Hornby,

2000), yet, for this sample, it seems that inservice training is not being utilized as

a means of providing current practicing teachers with the skills necessary to

successfully involve them.

Means Through Which Teachers Involve Parents

Participants in this study report that the most common ways in which

teachers involve parents of children in their classes include sending notes home

to discuss student progress, sending newsletters home, inviting parents to

chaperone field trips, sending home suggestions for educational games, and

reminding parents of important school meetings. Over one-third of the sample

reported never or seldomly talking with parents about parenting strategies,

inviting parents to talk about their job or area of expertise, or providing parents

with specific strategies to help children master academic skills. Better

preparation may have enabled teachers to involve more parents and to involve

them in different capacities.








Means Through Which Teachers Interact with Parents

This study also examined strategies that teachers use to communicate

with parents. Sending home newsletters has been deemed an effective means

of involving parents by keeping them abreast of classroom news, events and

activities (Epstein, 1987b). Results suggest that the majority of teachers send

newsletters home. The frequency of these newsletters varies with the most

popular being monthly. While more frequent contact would be ideal, it appears

that most teachers engage in this type of parent involvement and consider it to

be a priority.

Participants in this study report that the most popular methods parents use

to contact teachers are by notes to school or by phone. Many teachers reported

that parents also get in touch with them during pick up/drop off and some via

email. Email appears to be the least likely way parents get in touch with

teachers.

Limitations of the Current Study

The impact and utility of research findings may be negatively impacted

when there are too many threats to validity. The current study may have been

limited due to threats to external validity. External validity refers to the extent to

which the results of a research study can be generalized to individuals and

situations beyond those involved in the study (Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996).

First, data were only collected from one county in Maryland. Therefore,

generalizations from this study may be applicable to other mid-Atlantic suburban

counties. These findings may have limited generalizability to rural or inner city








populations or other regions of the United States. Only teachers from schools in

which principal permission could be obtained were recruited to participate;

although it cannot be determined by this study, there may be systematic

differences between schools whose principals did and did not choose to

participate. Research packets were distributed to every teacher and it was their

decision to participate or not.

The lack of variability in terms of gender and ethnicity may limit external

validitiy. It was expected that the sample would contain more females than

males; however, the magnitude of the discrepancy was not expected.

Elementary education is a predominately female occupation, and this limitation

may not necessarily reflect a weakness of this study, but rather reflect the

demographics of the profession in general. In terms of ethnic representation, the

researcher had hoped for more equal representation in the differing ethnic

groups. Because of the way subjects were recruited, this probably reflects the

demographics of the population from which the sample was drawn.

Another limitation in this study was the lack of variability within

socioeconomic status. Almost 80% of the teachers reported perceiving their

schools' socioeconomic status to be low, low/middle or middle, and yet, only

17.6% of the participating schools were Title 1 schools. This is an interesting

finding in itself because, except for the 14 Title I schools, Anne Arundel County is

a relatively affluent area. Therefore, in this study, teachers perceived their

schools' socioeconomic status to be lower than it actually is compared to state

and national standards. Results from this study suggest that teachers who teach








at lower socioeconomic schools have more positive perceptions of parent

involvement than those at higher socioeconomic status schools. The lack of

variability within this variable and teachers' misperceptions may have led to the

negative relationship between schools' socioeconomic status and teachers'

perception of parent involvement.

A final limitation to this study was the lack of variability within preservice

teacher training. Due to this lack of variability, the data were reduced to

categorized variables of "no training" and "some training." This lack of variability

indicated that, at least at the time the teachers were trained, they received little or

no training in parent involvement.

Conclusions

Results suggest that teacher efficacy is one factor that predicts teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement in education. More specifically, teachers with

a higher sense of efficacy have more positive perceptions of parent involvement

than teachers with a lower sense of efficacy. Years of teaching experience and

preservice teacher training were not found to be predictors of teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement. However, a positive relationship was found

between teacher efficacy and preservice teacher training, suggesting a further

link between preservice teacher training in parent involvement and attitudes

towards involving parents. More specifically, teachers who receive preservice

teacher training in parent involvement are more likely to have a higher sense of

efficacy, thus impacting their perceptions of parent involvement.








Results also suggest that there is a negative relationship between years of

teaching experience and preservice teacher training. This finding suggests that

new teachers are receiving preservice teacher training in parent/family

involvement while more experience teachers did not receive preservice teacher

training. In addition, few teachers are receiving inservice training about involving

parents. This has serious implications for undergraduate and graduate teacher

training programs. It may be unfair to expect all teachers to involve parents in

their children's education when they may not have received formalized training.

Recent research suggests that new teachers are receiving training in

parent/family involvement. Therefore, closer examination of inservice training

may be helpful in providing all currently practicing teachers with training in parent

involvement.

Findings from this study suggest that the majority of early elementary

teachers send newsletters home to their students' parents. Not only do the

majority of teachers send newsletters home, it appears that weekly or monthly

newsletters are most prevalent. This finding indicates that even though many

teachers report not receiving training in parent involvement, many are already

engaging in some of these behaviors.

Teachers also appear to be accessible to parents via several modalities.

It appears that the most common means for parents to contact teachers are by

phone, notes, and/or pick up/drop off. This indicates that the most current

teachers are accessible to parents in several ways.








Directions for Future Research

Research in this area has implications for a broad variety of topics.

Researchers are just beginning to examine teachers' perceptions of parent

involvement. Understanding teachers' perceptions of parent involvement and the

factors that make them more likely to involve parents has serious implications for

teacher training and the administrative climate and expectations for involving

families. It is important to determine what factors influence teachers' perceptions

of parent involvement. Until these factors are better ascertained it may be

unrealistic to expect all teachers to involve parents, especially if they do not

possess the qualities necessary to involve parents. Similar research may help

teachers/principals learn what teacher/school characteristics are necessary for

teachers to have positive perceptions of parent involvement.

For future studies on this topic to be successful and contribute to the

existing literature, several areas within this field need further exploration. First,

researchers may want to consider examining measures of teacher effectiveness

other than efficacy. More specifically, examining principal and parent

perceptions of teacher effectiveness. Second, a study addressing the recency of

training in relation to the amount of preservice teacher training. This study would

help further ascertain the quantity and quality of current preservice teacher

training in parent/family involvement. Third, a study with more variability with

respect to schools' socioeconomic status would be advantageous for examining

the relationship between schools' socioeconomic status and teachers'

perceptions of parent involvement.













APPENDIX A
PRINCIPAL INVITATION LETTER

Dear Elementary School Principal:

My name is Meghan Nicolini and I am a doctoral candidate in school

psychology at the University of Florida working under the supervision of Dr. Tina

Smith-Bonahue. As part of my graduate research, I would like to invite your

kindergarten through third grade teachers to participate in a research study

examining teachers' perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent involvement.

Participating teachers will be asked to complete three questionnaires:

Parent Involvement Rating Scale, Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES), and Teacher

Information Survey. The three questionnaires should take approximately a total

of 15-20 minutes to complete. First, they will be asked to complete the Parent

Involvement Rating Scale, which consists of 21 items assessing teachers'

attitudes about teacher/parent roles in parent involvement. Participants will be

asked to circle the number that best describes how important they believe each

item is using a five-point Likert scale ranging from not at all important (1) to

extremely important (5). Second, they will be asked to complete the TES

consisting of 16 items. Teachers will be asked to indicate on a scale of 1

(strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree) the degree to which they agree or

disagree with 16 separate items. Finally, they will be asked to complete a

questionnaire that will provide me with information about their background (i.e.,








education level, years of teaching experience) and the teaching environment

(i.e., grade taught, students' socioeconomic status). In addition, the measure

consists of three questions that ask about the teacher's previous exposure and/or

training in parent involvement and eight questions about teachers' behaviors

pertaining to parent involvement.

I am inviting each school in the district to participate. Men and women will

be selected to participate in this study based on their status as kindergarten

through third grade elementary school teachers. There is no risk to your staff

members. They are free to withdraw from the study at anytime without

consequence. Their names will not be revealed to anyone, with the exception of

my advisor and I, or appear in any written work.

If you have any questions about this study, please do not hesitate to

contact me at (352) 256-3641 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Smith, at (352) 392-

0723. Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant may be

directed to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville,

FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.



Thank you in advance for your consideration and support.

Sincerely,



Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.

Please read the above description, sign below, and return the bottom
portion only.





80


I, __ have read the procedures described above

and voluntarily give my consent for my school to participate in Meghan Nicolini's

study. I acknowledge that I have received a copy of the above description.


Principal Signature Date

I am the principal of Elementary School and

have kindergarten through third grade teachers in my school.













APPENDIX B
RESEARCH STUDY CONSENT FORM

Dear Teacher:

My name is Meghan Nicolini and I am a doctoral candidate in school

psychology at the University of Florida working under the supervision of Dr. Tina

Smith-Bonahue. As part of my graduate research, I would like to invite you to

participate in a research study examining teachers' perceptions of parent

involvement.

You will be asked to complete three questionnaires: Parent Involvement

Rating Scale, Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES), and Teacher Information Survey.

The three questionnaires should take approximately a total of 15-20 minutes to

complete. First, you will be asked to complete the Parent Involvement Rating

Scale, which consists of 21 items assessing teachers' attitudes about

teacher/parent roles in parent involvement. You will be asked to circle the

number that best describes how important they believe each item is using a five-

point Likert scale ranging from not at all important (1) to extremely important (5).

Second, you will be asked to complete the TES consisting of 16 items. You will

be asked to indicate on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree) the

degree to which they agree or disagree with 16 separate items. Finally, you will

be asked to complete a questionnaire that will provide me with information about

your background (i.e., education level, years of teaching experience) and the








teaching environment (i.e., grade taught, students' socioeconomic status). In

addition, the measure consists of three questions that ask about your previous

exposure and/or training in parent involvement and eight questions about

teachers' behaviors pertaining to parent involvement.

You have been asked to participate in this study based on your status as a

kindergarten through third grade elementary school teacher. There is no risk to

you, and your refusal to give consent will not in any way affect your status at

school. You are free to with draw from the study at anytime without

consequence. Each participating teacher will be assigned a confidential number.

Your name will not be revealed to anyone, with the exception of my advisor and I,

or appear in any written work.

Please complete the attached signature page, indicating your consent to

participate in my study and return it to me. If you have any questions about this

study, please do not hesitate to contact me at (352) 256-3641 or my faculty

supervisor, Dr. Smith, at (352) 392-0723. Questions or concerns about your

rights as a research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of

Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.



Sincerely,



Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.

Please read the above description, sign below, and return the bottom
portion only.





83


I, ,_ have read the procedures described above

and voluntarily give my consent to participate in Meghan Nicolini's study. I

acknowledge that I have received a copy of the above description.




Teacher Signature Date













APPENDIX C
PARENT INVOLVEMENT RATING SCALE

For the next 13 questions, please circle the number that best describes
how important you believe each item is.
1 2 3 4 5
Not at all Somewhat Extremely
important important important

1. Students arrive with the supplies (i.e., pencils and paper) 1 2 3 4 5
necessary to complete their schoolwork.

2. Parents ensure their children's homework is completed 1 2 3 4 5
each night.

3. Teachers invite parents to class to talk about their jobs or 1 2 3 4 5
areas of expertise.

4. Students are well rested when they arrive at school. 1 2 3 4 5

5. Teachers discuss parenting strategies (e.g., development, 1 2 3 4 5
discipline) with parents.

6. Parents send children to school appropriately dressed for 1 2 3 4 5
weather activities, etc.

7. Teachers remind parents of important school meetings. 1 2 3 4 5

8. Parents talk with their children about what they did that day 1 2 3 4 5
in school.

9. Teachers invite parents to chaperone on class field trips. 1 2 3 4 5

10. Parents attend parent advisory committee meetings. 1 2 3 4 5

11. Parents attend parent-teacher conferences. 1 2 3 4 5

12. Parents volunteer to come to school activities. 1 2 3 4 5








13. Teachers send notes (other than report cards) home
discussing students' progress.
14. Teachers send home suggestions for educational games
or activities.

15. Parents to be actively involved in PTAIPTO meetings.

16. Parents volunteer to chaperone field trips.

17. Students come to school clean and well-groomed.

18. Parents send notes to school discussing their children's
progress.

19. Teachers send newsletters home to parents.

20. Teachers provide parents with specific strategies to help
children master academic skills.

21 .Parents promptly return phone calls teachers make to
students' home.


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APPENDIX D
FOCUS GROUP CONSENT FORM

Dear Teacher:

My name is Meghan Nicolini and I am a doctoral candidate in school

psychology at the University of Florida working under the supervision of Dr. Tina

Smith-Bonahue. As part of my graduate research, I would like to invite you to

participate in the preliminary portion of a research study that is being conducted

examining teachers' perceptions of parent involvement.

You will be asked to participate in a focus group to explore the

appropriateness of a measure to be used in the study. First you will be asked to

complete the Parent Involvement Rating Scale (PIRS), which consists of 21

items assessing teachers attitudes to parent/teacher roles in parent involvement.

Second, you will be asked to participate in a focus group meeting, during which

we will discuss the survey. Completing the survey should take approximately 5-

10 minutes. The focus group will take approximately 20-30 minutes.

You have been selected to participate in this study based on your status

as an elementary school teacher. There is no risk to you, and your refusal to

give consent will no in any way affect your status at school. You are free to

withdraw your participation from the study without consequence. Your name will

not be revealed to anyone, with the exception of my advisor and I, or appear in

any written work.








Please complete the attached signature page, indicating your consent to

participate in my study and return it to me. If you have any questions about this

study, please do not hesitate to contact me at (352) 256-3641 or my faculty

supervisor, Dr. Smith, at (352) 392-0723. Questions or concerns about your

rights as a research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of

Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.



Sincerely,



Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.
Please read the above description, sign below, and return the bottom
portion only.

I, __, have read the procedures described above

and voluntarily give my consent to participate in Meghan Nicolini's study. I

acknowledge that I have received a copy of the above description.


Teacher Signature


Date













APPENDIX E
RELIABILITY STUDY CONSENT FORM

Dear Teacher:

My name is Meghan Nicolini and I am a doctoral candidate in school

psychology at the University of Florida working under the supervision of Dr. Tina

Smith-Bonahue. As part of my graduate research, I would like to invite you to

participate in the preliminary portion of a research study that is being conducted

examining teachers' perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent involvement.

You will be asked to participate in a pilot study to provide preliminary data

on a measure to be used in my research. You will be asked to complete the

Parent Involvement Rating Scale. The scale consists of 21 items assessing

teachers' attitudes about teacher/parent roles in parent involvement. You will be

asked to circle the number that best describes how important your believe each

item is using a five-point Likert scale ranging from not at all important (1) to

extremely important (5). Completing the rating scale should take approximately

5-10 minutes.

You have been selected to participate in this study based on your status

as an elementary school teacher. There is no risk to you, and your refusal to

give consent will no in any way affect your status at your school. You are free to

withdraw your participation from the study without consequence. Your name will








not be revealed to anyone, with the exception of my advisor and I, or appear in

any written work.

Please complete the attached signature page, indicating your consent to

participate in my study and return it to me. If you have any questions about this

study, please do not hesitate to contact me at (352) 256-3641 or my faculty

supervisor, Dr. Smith, at (352) 392-0723. Questions or concerns about your

rights as a research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of

Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.



Sincerely,



Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.
Please read the above description, sign below, and return the bottom
portion only.

I, __, have read the procedures described above

and voluntarily give my consent to participate in Meghan Nicolini's study. I

acknowledge that I have received a copy of the above description.


Teacher Signature


Date













APPENDIX F
TEACHER EFFICACY SCALE
Gibson & Dembo (1984)


Please indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with each statement
below by circling the appropriate numeral underneath each statement.
1 2 3 4 5 6
Strongly Moderately Disagree Agree slightly Moderately Strongly
disagree disagree slightly more more than agree agree
than agree disagree


1. When a student does better than usual, many times it is
because I exerted a little extra effort.

2. The hours in my class have little influence on students
compared to the influence of the home environment.

3. The amount that a student can learn is primarily related
to family background.

4. If students aren't disciplined at home, they aren't likely
to accept any discipline.

5. When a student is having difficulty with an assignment, I
am usually able to adjust it to his/her level.

6. When a student gets a better grade than he usually
gets, it is usually because I found better ways of teaching
that student.

7. When I really try, I can get through to most difficult
students.

8. A teacher is very limited in what he/she can achieve
because a student's home environment is a large influence
on his/her achievements.

9. When the grades of my students improve, it is usually
because I found more effective teaching approaches.


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10. If a student masters a new concept quickly, this might
be because I knew the necessary steps in teaching that
concept.

11. If parents would do more with their children, I could do
more.

12. If a student did not remember information I gave in a
previous lesson, I would know how to increase his/her
retention in the next lesson.

13. If a student in my class becomes disruptive and noisy,
I feel assured that I know some techniques to redirect him
quickly.

14. The influences of the student's home experiences can
be overcome by good teaching.

15. If one of my students couldn't do a class assignment, I
would be able to accurately assess whether the
assignment was at the correct level of difficulty.

16. Even a teacher with good teaching abilities may not
reach many students.


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1 2 3456













APPENDIX G
TEACHER INFORMATION SURVEY

1. What is your highest educational degree? (check one)
__ Associate's Specialist
Bachelor's Ph.D.
Master's Ed.D. Major:

2. What is your gender? (check one)
Female
Male

3. What is your ethnicity? (check which applies)
___ African-American / Black / African Origin
__ Asian-American / Asian Origin / Pacific Islander
___ Latino-a / Hispanic
American Indian/ Alaska Native / Aboriginal Canadian
___ European Origin /White
Bi-racial / Multi-racial

4. What is your age? _

5. How many years of teaching experience do you have?

6. What grade are you currently teaching?

7. Generally speaking, how would you describe your students' socioeconomic
backgrounds?
Low
Low/middle
Middle
Middle/High
High


8. During your teacher training, did you receive training on parent involvement?
(check one)
No training
One class period devoted to parent involvement
Part of a course devoted to parent involvement








Entire course devoted to parent involvement
I do not remember

9. Please indicate the extent to which you believe your preservice teacher
education prepared you for involving families.
Not at all
Fair
Moderate
Thorough
Extensive

10. Have you received inservice training (including professional conferences) on
parent involvement?
0 hours
1-2 hours
3-5 hours
7-9 hours
10 or more hours


11. Do you have a regular newsletter that goes to parents?
If so, how often:
Daily
Weekly
Two times a month
Monthly
Once a semester
Once a year


No Yes


12. How often do the following occur in your own classroom:


Never


3
Sometimes


5
Often


a. Discuss parenting strategies (e.g. discipline,
development) with parents.
b. Send notes (other than report cards) home discussing
students' progress.

c. Send newsletters home to parents.

d. Invite parents to chaperone class field trips.

e. Invite parents to talk about their jobs or areas of
expertise.


1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5









f. Provide parents with specific strategies to help children 1 2 3 4 5
master academic skills.

g. Send home suggestions for educational games or 1 2 3 4 5
activities.

h. Remind parents of important school meetings. 1 2 3 4 5



If you would like to provide any additional information, please answer the
following:

13. Parents get in touch with me by (please check all that apply):
notes to school
pick up/drop off
email
phone




Full Text

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AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
FILES


TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF PARENT/TEACHER ROLES IN PARENT
INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATION
By
MEGHAN K. NICOLINI
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
2003

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
There are numerous people who have contributed to the success of this
project. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to my dissertation chair,
Dr. Tina Smith-Bonahue, whom I have relied on greatly over the past six years. I
applaud all the she has done for me, and am forever grateful for her guidance,
patience and support, both professionally and personally. Next, I would like to
thank my committee members Drs. Jones, Miller, and Waldron for their direction
and support as members of my dissertation committee. I appreciate all the effort
and commitment that have been given to this project and me.
I would also like to thank the Anne Arundel County public school system
for being so supportive of this project. This project would not have been
possible without its willingness to participate. I would like to extend my
appreciation to Dr. Tim Dangle, the principals who provided entrance into the
schools and most importantly to the numerous teachers who took the time to
complete the surveys. Without them, this project would have never happened.
Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for continually
supporting and encouraging me throughout my graduate school career. It has
been a long journey and I will forever be grateful to all of you for believing in me
and helping me attain my goals.
ii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ii
ABSTRACT vi
CHAPTER
1 INTRODUCTION 1
Significance of the Study 2
Purpose of the Study 4
Summary and Overview of Chapters 4
2 LITERATURE REVIEW 6
Benefits to Parent Involvement 6
Models and Types of Parent Involvement 10
Barriers to Parental Involvement 20
Model of Parent Involvement Process 25
Strategies for Improving Parental Involvement 36
Teacher Qualities that Influence Parent Involvement 39
Role of Socioeconomic Status 48
3 METHOD 52
Participants 52
Setting 52
Measures 53
Procedure 56
Analyses 57
4 RESULTS 59
Descriptive Results 59
Bivariate Correlations 65
Multiple Regression Analysis 66
5 DISCUSSION 68
Importance of Teacher Efficacy 69
Implications for Teacher Education and Preparation 70
in

Means Through Which Teachers Involve Parents 72
Means Through Which Teachers Interact with Parents 73
Limitations of the Current Study 73
Conclusions 75
Directions for Future Research 77
APPENDIX 78
A PRINCIPAL INVITATION LETTER 78
B RESEARCH STUDY CONSENT FORM 81
C PARENT INVOLVEMENT RATING SCALE 84
D FOCUS GROUP CONSENT FORM 86
E RELIABILITY STUDY CONSENT FORM 88
F TEACHER EFFICACY SCALE 90
G TEACHER INFORMATION SURVEY 92
H POSTCARD REMINDER 95
REFERENCES 96
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 101
IV

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF
PARENT/TEACHER ROLES IN PARENT
INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATION
By
Meghan K. Nicolini
August 2003
Chair: Tina Smith-Bonahue
Major Department: Educational Psychology
Historically in the United States there has been ambivalence as to whether
the family should be a focus of educational attention. On one hand parent
involvement in education is desirable, yet others are concerned that too much
attention would violate the family’s autonomy and privacy. A review of the
literature suggests that little empirical evidence and research exist on teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement and why teachers initially decide to involve
parents. More specifically, which factors affect teachers’ decisions to involve
parents in their children’s education remains an unanswered question. The
purpose of this study was to attempt to identify key factors that influence
teachers' perceptions of parent involvement in education. This study was
designed to determine the effects of teacher efficacy, years of teaching
experience, and preservice teacher training on teachers’ perceptions of
parent/teacher roles in parent involvement while controlling for grade and
schools’ socioeconomic status. This study surveyed 170 kindergarten through
v

third grade elementary school teachers. They were asked to complete the
Parent Involvement Rating Scale, Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES) and the Teacher
Information Survey. Results suggest that teacher efficacy is one factor that
predicts teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement. More specifically, teachers
with a higher sense of efficacy have more positive perceptions of parent
involvement than those with a lower sense of efficacy. Preservice teacher
training and years of experience do not appear to be predictors of teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement.
VI

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Historically in the United States there has been ambivalence as to whether
the family should be a focus of educational attention. On one hand, family
involvement in education is viewed as desirable, even necessary. On the other
hand, concerns have been raised that too much attention would violate the
family’s autonomy and privacy (Powell, 1991). Several questions about parent
involvement have been raised over the past few decades. What role should
parents take in their children’s education? What do teachers/administrators
perceive as ideal parent involvement? What type(s) of involvement are most
beneficial to students? The field of parent involvement in education is relatively
new and some of these important issues are just beginning to be explored.
The term parent involvement has been defined differently by various
researchers. Lareau (1987,2000, 2001) defines parent involvement as preparing
children for school (i.e., teaching children the alphabet; talking and reading to
children to promote language development), attending school events (i.e.,
parent-teacher conferences), and carrying through any requests teachers make.
Other researchers define parent involvement as “the participation of parents in
every facet of children’s education and development from birth to adulthood,
recognizing that parents are the primary influence in children’s lives” (National
PTA, 2000, p. 8).
l

For the purpose of this study, Epstein’s (1987) definition of parent
involvement will be utilized. After reviewing the literature, she identified the
2
following five main types of parent involvement: a) basic obligations of parents
(parenting), b) basic obligations of schools (communication), c) parent
involvement at school (volunteering), d) parent involvement in learning activities
at home, and e) parent involvement in governance and advocacy (decision¬
making). Further description of these types of parent involvement will be
discussed in Chapter 2.
Research on family environments has consistently documented the
importance of family involvement for student development and achievement
(Epstein, 1985; Lightfoot, 1978; Powell, 1991). According to Epstein (1985),
parental encouragement, activities, and interests at home, as well as parental
participation in schools and classrooms, have a positive influence on
achievement, even after the student’s ability and family socioeconomic status are
taken into account.
When parents and teachers work together, ideally a partnership or
community is formed. Communities that share a unified purpose and resources
have a greater possibility of strengthening their schools, families, and student
learning (National PTA, 2000). Establishing home/school partnerships are
mutually beneficial for connecting individuals, not just institutions or groups.
Significance of the Study
The importance of parent involvement in education is well documented in
the literature (e.g., Ballantine, 1999; Comer & Haynes, 1991; DeAcosta, 1996;

3
Epstein & Dauber, 1991). Yet, it remains difficult for teachers to involve parents
in their children’s education. Research suggests that the benefits of parent
involvement extend beyond the students (Ballantine, 1999; Epstein, 1985;
Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al., 1996), including parents and teachers
alike (Epstein et al., 1997). In addition, the importance of home-school
partnerships and collaboration has been supported (Epstein, 1985; Kibel & Stein-
Seroussi, 1997; Lightfoot, 1978).
Several studies have been conducted examining the effects, benefits, and
barriers of parent involvement; although few have focused on why parents
become involved and teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement (Ballantine,
1999; Becker & Epstein, 1982; Epstein et al., 1997; Hornby, 2000; Karther &
Lowden, 1997; National PTA, 2000; Sussell et al., 1996;). More specifically, why
are some teachers able to involve all types of parents with ease while other
teachers are not successful? Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1997) developed a
model attempting to explain parents’ involvement decisions and choices. The
model suggests that parents’ fundamental decision to become involved in their
children’s education is a function of the three following constructs: a) the parents’
construction of his/her role in the child’s life; b) the parents’ sense of efficacy for
helping their children succeed in school; and c) the general invitations, demands,
and opportunities for parental involvement presented by both the child and the
child’s school.
Factors that influence teachers’ decisions to involve parents have not
been thoroughly examined. Therefore, factors that may prevent or increase

4
teachers’ use of parent involvement must be explored. What factor(s) has the
biggest influence on teachers’ decisions about parent involvement? Does the
problem originate in teacher training programs or are other school- and/or
teacher-related variables (i.e., SES, teacher efficacy) responsible for their
decisions? Therefore, an understanding of the potential factors that contribute to
teachers’ use of parent involvement may provide implications for teacher training
programs as well as identifying factors most relevant in teachers’ decisions about
parent involvement.
Purpose of the Study
This study will examine teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement based
on teacher-and school-related variables, including teacher efficacy, years of
teaching experience, and preservice teacher training in parent involvement.
Specifically, this study will examine the following question: What are the effects
of teacher efficacy, years of teaching experience, and preservice teacher training
on teachers’ perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent involvement while
controlling for grade and schools’ socioeconomic status?
Summary and Overview of Remaining Chapters
Despite the recognized importance of parent involvement in education, the
factors that influence teachers’ perceptions have not been fully explored. As a
result, this study will attempt to expand existing research and identify factors that
may contribute to teachers’ use of parent involvement.
Chapter 2 provides a review of the relevant research including benefits of
parent involvement, models and types of parent involvement, and factors

5
influencing parent involvement. Chapter 3 describes the research methodology
and procedures used in this study. Chapter 4 describes the results of the study.
Chapter 5 presents the results of the study, discusses how the results of the
study relate to previous research, addresses the limitations of the study, and
provides implications for future research.

CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
In recent years, parent involvement in education has received increasing
attention from the popular as well as scholarly press, with a number of authors
pointing out the benefits experienced by children (Ballantine, 1999; Epstein et al.,
1997; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al, 1996). Despite this attention,
several aspects of parent involvement have received little, if any attention. This
study was undertaken in an attempt to better understand the phenomena of
parent involvement. In particular, it seeks to identify key factors that influence
teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement in education. The following review
of the literature begins with a rationale for the study by exploring the benefits of
parent involvement. Next, models and types of parent involvement are explored
as means of understanding and characterizing the breadth of research and
practice in this area. Finally, parent characteristics and strategies for improving
parental involvement are discussed as they relate to factors that potentially
explain factors that facilitate or inhibit parent involvement.
Benefits to Parent Involvement
Researchers have noted several benefits to parent involvement in
education. Epstein et al. (1997) found the benefits of parent involvement extend
beyond the students; including the parents, teachers, and school alike. In 1974,
Bronfenbrenner (as cited in Hoover-Dempsey, et al., 1987) concluded that parent
6

7
involvement was crucial to the success of educational programs for children.
Even though parents are not involved as much as one would like, several
benefits to parent involvement have been documented (Ballantine, 1999; Epstein
et al., 1997; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al, 1996). These results indicate
that even minimal amounts of parent involvement have significant effects on
children, parents, and teachers alike. Imagine the results ideal levels of parent
involvement would bring. The following benefits of parent involvement in
education will be discussed below: a) overall school climate, b) increased
positive parental attitudes, c) increased student performance, and d) increased
parenting abilities.
Overall School Climate
Sussell et al. (1996) found that improved school climate was one of the
benefits of parent involvement in education. This improvement could be related
to teachers and parents working collaboratively, or as one unit. According to
Bronfenbrenner (1974, as cited in Hoover-Dempsey, et al., 1987) cohesiveness
between systems (i.e., home and school) leads to the best outcomes. Benefits
for teachers and administrators have also been found including a greater respect
for the family’s strengths and efforts, better understanding of student and family
diversity, and better understanding of family’s concerns, goals, and needs
(Epstein et al., 1997).
Increased Positive Parental Attitudes
Sussell et al. (1996) suggest that more positive attitudes towards teachers
and schools is one benefit of parent involvement in education. By working

8
collaboratively with teachers and the school, parents are able to place more trust
in them, which frequently leads to having a more positive attitude. Karther and
Lowden (1997) studied the effects of parent involvement and found that parents
who were involved experienced an increase in parental satisfaction with schools.
It is imperative to remember, however, that this will not happen unless a true
partnership is formed.
Increased Student Performance
The third benefit to parent involvement is increased student performance
(Ballantine, 1999; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al., 1996). Teachers and
parents want proof that their time and effort in organizing and carrying through
with a parent involvement program will improve student achievement. Students
whose parents are involved experience greater gains in various academic areas,
opposed to those whose parents are not involved. Epstein (1985) found that with
“important characteristics statistically controlled”, (although not specified),
students whose teachers were leaders in parent involvement made greater gains
in reading achievement than did other students (p. 22). However, the same
results were not found on gains in math achievement. This phenomenon is
explained by the fact that the most popular subject for parents to help their
children with is reading activities.
Research by Epstein et al. (1997) suggests that effective school, family,
and community partnerships provide a number of benefits to students. By
involving parents, curricular and extracurricular activities are enriched, providing
a means for students to gain specialized skills. Another benefit is that students

9
develop positive relationships with adults other than their parents and teachers.
Perhaps the most important benefit is that students develop a sense of value and
belonging to the community.
In addition to increases in students’ grades, benefits are found in other
areas that affect student achievement. These include but are not limited to: a)
more positive student attitudes and behaviors (Sussell et al., 1996), b) improved
communication between parents and children (Ballantine, 1999), c) increased
high school attendance and less disruptive behavior (Ballantine, 1999), d)
increased likelihood of completing high school and attending college (Ballantine,
1999), and e) improved study habits among children (Ballantine, 1999). A study
by Epstein (1982, as cited in Epstein, 1985), which surveyed 613 fifth grade
students, indicated when teachers are leaders in parent involvement and when
parents become involved the students report having: a) more positive attitudes
toward school, b) more regular homework habits, c) more similarity between the
school and family, d) more familiarity between the teacher and the family, and e)
more homework assigned on the weekends.
Increased Parenting Abilities
The final benefit to parent involvement is increasing the confidence of
parents. Karther and Lowden (1997) found that parents who are involved in their
children’s education experience an increase in their self-confidence as parents.
In addition, Epstein et al. (1997) found that parents gain a greater knowledge of
the characteristics of childhood and adolescence, have more self-confidence in
their parenting abilities, and become more aware of their own and others’

10
challenges in parenting. Due to an increase in their self-confidence parents
experience a sense of accomplishment, higher parental expectations for their
children, and an increased likelihood of deciding to continue their own education
(Ballantine, 1999).
Models and Types of Parent Involvement
Clearly, children benefit when their parents participate and support their
education. The ways in which parents are, and should be involved in their
children’s education is less clear. In attempting to understand and describe
parental involvement in their children’s education, authors have categorized the
form and means through which parents participate. Hornby (2000) has identified
six models of parental involvement: a) protective, b) expert, c) transmission, d)
curriculum-enrichment, e) consumer, and f) partnership models. Each is defined
by its own set of assumptions, goals, and strategies and ranges from approaches
which try to minimize parental involvement to those which actively promote it.
These models discuss more organizational and systemic approaches to parent
involvement rather than individual teacher’s approaches.
Protective Model
The goal of the protective model (Swap, 1993) is to avoid conflict between
teachers and parents by keeping the teaching and parenting functions separate.
It is referred to as the protective model because its objective is to protect the
school from interference by parents. The teacher’s responsibility is to educate
children, while the parent’s responsibility is to make sure children get to school
on time with the correct supplies. In this model, parental involvement is seen as

11
unnecessary and potentially interfering with the education of children. This
model is based on three assumptions: 1) parents delegate to the school the
responsibility of educating their children, 2) parents hold school personnel
accountable for the results, and 3) educators accept this delegation of
responsibility (Swap, 1993).
Expert Model
In the expert model (Cunningham & Davis, 1985), teachers consider
themselves the experts regarding all areas of the development and education of
children, whereas parents’ views are given little credence. Teachers maintain
control over all decisions, while the parents’ role is to receive information and
instruction about their children. Parents’ views and feelings, the need for a
mutual relationship, and the sharing of information are given little, if any,
consideration.
Several problems have been identified with this model. First, because
there is no sense of collaboration in this model, it encourages teachers to be
dominant and parents to be submissive. The teachers are the experts and
parents are expected to passively follow the teachers, not questioning anything.
Such a passive role for parents tends to cause them to lose faith in their own
competence. Further, because teachers do not take advantage and use parents
for the rich resources they are, teachers may overlook the special abilities and
problems of children.

12
Transmission Model
The transmission model is predicated on the view that teachers see
themselves as the primary source of expertise on children but who recognize the
benefits of using parents as a resource (Swap, 1993). This model is based on
several assumptions: a) children’s achievement is fostered by continuity of
expectations and values between home and school; b) school personnel should
identify the values and practices outside school that contribute to school success;
and c) parents should endorse the importance of schooling, reinforce school
expectations at home, provide conditions at home that nurture development and
support school success, and ensure that the child meets minimum academic and
social requirements (Swap, 1993).
According to Swap, this model differs from the protective model in that it
“acknowledges the continuous interchange between home and school and the
important role parents play in enhancing the educational achievement of their
children” (p. 30). Parents’ help is recruited to assist in supporting the goals of the
school. In this model, the teacher remains in control and decides on the
intervention, yet accepts that parents can play an important role in facilitating
children’s progress. Teachers using this approach must have additional skills,
including techniques to effectively guide parents and interpersonal skills to
establish productive working relationships.
One drawback of this approach is the assumption that all parents can, and
should, take on the role of acting as a resource (Swap, 1993). This model has

the potential to overburden parents by placing excessive demands on them to
carry out interventions in the home.
Curriculum-enrichment Model
13
The goal of the curriculum-enrichment model (Swap, 1993) is to extend
the school curriculum by incorporating parents’ contributions. This model is
based on the assumption that parents have valuable expertise to contribute and
the interaction between parents and teachers will enhance the curriculum and the
educational objectives of the school. Parent involvement in this model focuses
primarily on curriculum and instruction within schools. This model provides
means for parents to be actively involved and for teachers and parents to learn
from each other. This model is different from the other models in that it does “not
necessarily permeate all aspects of the school culture and structure: Its focus is
on curriculum and instruction” (Swap, 1993, p. 39). The major drawback to this
model is that it involves teachers permitting parents to have tremendous input to
what is taught and how it is taught. In some cases, this may seem threatening to
the teacher.
Consumer Model
Parents are seen as being consumers of educational services in the
consumer model (Cunningham & Davis, 1985). In this model, teachers function
as more of a consultant while parents decide what action is to be taken. The
responsibility of decision-making lies on the shoulders of the parents, but it is the
teachers’ responsibility to provide parents with relevant information and the
options available. In this model, teachers defer to the parents, who are placed in

14
the expert role. Because parents are in control of the decision-making process,
they are more likely to be satisfied with the services they receive, to feel more
confident in their parenting, and to be less dependent on professionals. Perhaps
the biggest drawback to this model is that, if taken to extreme, it can lead to a
surrender of professional responsibility (Cunningham & Davis, 1985). Further, it
is imperative that when parents are making choices for their children that they
are informed decisions. It is the professionals’ responsibility to fully inform
parents of their options and alternatives. If professionals fail to do this, then this
model becomes a disaster.
Partnership Model
After reviewing and evaluating the previous five models of parent
involvement, Hornby (2000) identified as the most appropriate model one in
which teachers are considered to be experts on education and parents are
viewed as experts on their children. The goal is to establish a partnership in
which teachers and parents share expertise and control in order to provide the
optimum education for children, each contributing different strengths to the
relationship. Mutual respect, long-term commitment to a wide range of activities,
and sharing of planning and decision-making responsibilities are essential
components if true partnerships between parents and teachers are to occur.
Hornby (2000) proposes four key elements to ensure collaborative
relationships between teachers and parents occur: a) two-way communication,
b) mutual support, c) joint decision-making, and d) enhancement of learning at
school and at home. “Although there must be enough flexibility to enable other

15
models to be used when necessary, it is considered that the partnership model is
generally the most appropriate perspective from which to develop constructive
parental involvement” (Hornby, 2000, p. 21).
Types of Parent Involvement
Implicit within the models described by Hornby (2000) is the assumption
that parents are involved through different means, and at different levels of
intensity. While extensive research (Epstein, 1986; Epstein, 1987; Epstein &
Dauber, 1991; Epstein et al., 1997) on family environments shows that children
have an advantage when their parents support and encourage their school
activities, there are many ways for this support to be realized, ranging from the
most basic preparation for school to true partnerships with educators. After
reviewing the research in the area of parent involvement in education, Epstein
(1987) identified five main types of parent involvement: a) basic obligations of
parents, b) basic obligations of schools, c) parent involvement at school, d)
parent involvement in learning activities at home, and e) parent involvement in
governance and advocacy (decision making).
Basic obligations of parents (parenting)
Perhaps the most basic and fundamental form of parent involvement is
providing for children’s food, clothing, health, shelter, safety, and general well¬
being. From birth, parents are responsible for teaching their children basic
cognitive and social skills to prepare them for school. Because parents vary in
their experiences and skills, schools frequently take an active role in helping
parents provide positive home environments that support school learning and

16
behavior. Schools help parents develop the knowledge and skills necessary to
understand their children at each grade level via several different modes (i.e.,
workshops, publications, home visitations, family support programs) (Epstein,
1987; Epstein & Dauber, 1991).
Basic obligations of schools (communication)
A second type of parent involvement is communication from school to the
home. The school has an obligation to inform parents about their children’s
progress as well as school programs. This includes memos, report cards,
notices, phone calls, conferences, and calendars of school events. The National
PTA (2000) encourages teachers and school professionals to pay special
attention to parents who work outside the home, single parents, and parents from
different cultures. Information about school policies and programs and children’s
progress should be communicated clearly and frequently with parents.
Epstein (1986) surveyed parents and teachers in first, third, and fifth grade
classrooms and found that more than a third of the parents had no conference
with a teacher during the school year. About 60 percent said that they had never
talked to their children’s teachers by phone. Although more than 95 percent of
surveyed teachers reported that they communicated with parents, most parents
reported that they had never been involved in frequent discussions with their
children's teachers. There is no set formula as to how much communication
teachers need to have with parents. Principals and teachers can vary the form,
frequency, timing, and content of the information sent to the home (Epstein,
1987; Epstein & Dauber, 1991).

17
Parent involvement at school (volunteering)
A number of volunteer options for parents have been identified in the
literature. They may assist teachers in the classroom, on class trips, or at class
parties; teach mini-courses; participate in career awareness programs;
demonstrate hobbies and talents; provide after-school remediation or enrichment
programs, homework clinics, or hotlines; or work with parent organizations in
fund raising (Epstein, 1987). Teachers, parents, and students reap benefits from
parent involvement. Benefits to parents include, but are not limited, to the
following: a) feeling welcomed and valued at school, b) gaining self-confidence in
their ability to be role models for children, and c)having a better understanding
the teacher’s role and responsibilities.
Epstein and Dauber (1991) found that more volunteers are used in the
elementary grades than in middle or high school. Research by Epstein (1987)
suggests that “having parents active at school encourages teachers to request
other parents to conduct learning activities with their children at home" (p. 8).
However, research also suggests that while parents believe involvement in their
children’s school is important, few actually participate.
Parent involvement in learning activities at home
The fourth type of parent involvement consists of assisting with learning
activities at home. This may occur with or without specific advice and direction
from teachers. The learning activities may be designed to work on general skills
or more specific skills that pertain to the material being taught in the classroom.
General skills refer to things like helping students manage study habits and

18
school routines; developing problem solving, critical-thinking, or social skills;
and/or sportsmanship. Specific skills refer to skills needed at each grade level in
math, reading, language arts, etc (Epstein, 1987). Epstein and Dauber (1991)
found that grade level is strongly related to assisting with learning activities at
home. Elementary schools are more likely than middle schools to have strong
programs of this type of involvement.
Principals tend to encourage teachers to involve parents in reading
activities at home more than any other subject. Teachers report extensive use of
techniques that involve parents working with their children in reading and
reading-related activities.
Parents also benefit from helping their children with learning activities at
home. Epstein (1987) found that more than 90 percent of parents help their
children with homework activities at least once in a while. Yet, less than 25
percent receive formal or specific instructions from teachers to assist children
with specific skills. Such instruction has advantages: parents who are frequently
involved by teachers in learning activities at home recognized that the teacher
worked hard to involve parents, felt they should help their children at home, and
understood more about their children’s education. In another study, Epstein et
al. (1997) found that parents who were involved in their children’s education
experienced increased knowledge of how to support and encourage their
children at home. Additionally, they had an increased understanding of the
curriculum and what their children were learning in school.

19
When parents help their children with learning activities at home they are
ultimately helping their children be more successful at school. Epstein (1987)
found that students made greater gains in reading achievement if teachers
frequently used parent involvement. These findings were not the same for math
achievement, but as stated earlier, teachers tend to involve parents in reading
activities at home more than any other subject. Research by Epstein et al.
(1997) concluded that supporting parents as key figures in their children’s
learning provided the following benefits to students: a) developed self-confidence
in their ability as learners; b) developed a positive attitude toward homework and
school; and c) received higher grades and test scores, had better attendance,
and completed homework more consistently.
Parent involvement in governance and advocacy (decision-making)
The fifth type of parent involvement includes parents in decision-making
and being activists in governance and advocacy. This includes parents’
participation in the parent-teacher association/organization (PTA/PTO); advisory
councils; and/or committees at the school, district, or state level (Epstein, 1987).
In the advocate/decision-maker role, “parents work with the school to help solve
problems and develop policies that make the school system more responsive
and equitable to all families” (National PTA, 2000, p. 109). Commitment to this
standard can lead to the highest amount of parent involvement in education.
Parents have the ability to advocate for their children on several levels within the
education system. They can advocate within their communities or at the state
and federal level. According to the National PTA (2000), effective advocacy

20
requires parents to develop a plan that includes a strong message and an
effective strategy for communicating that message. The message needs to be
strong in order to communicate to various community members, including
lawmakers and the media. It is essential for the plan to include how to recruit
participants, train them, and keep them motivated.
Research by Epstein et al. (1997) suggests that parent involvement in
school decision-making provides the following benefits to students: a) an
understanding that their rights are protected, b) an awareness of families’
representation in school decisions, and c) benefits from specific policies enacted
by parent/school committees. Epstein et al. (1997) found that parents also
benefit from their involvement in school decision-making in the following ways: a)
gain a voice in school decisions and policies that affect children, b) become
aware of school and district policies, and c) feel a sense of ownership in their
children’s school.
Barriers to Parental Involvement
In spite of the many benefits to parent involvement in education, a number
of barriers prevent it from being a common practice in every school. One
research question that deserves attention is why do these barriers exist? What
causes some schools to implement parent involvement practices with such ease,
while others find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to implement parent
involvement practices? Hornby (2000) has identified several barriers to parental
involvement, including a) demographic changes, b) historical/societal factors, c)
parents’ attitude, d) school culture, and e) parent knowledge and skill.

21
Demographic Changes
Hornby suggests that two major demographic changes have occurred in
families over the past 30 years that have made parental involvement in schools
more difficult. First, there has been a significant increase in the number of
mothers of school-aged children who have entered the workforce. Second, the
number of children living in single parent families has increased. When both
parents are working or there is only one parent in the home, it becomes more
difficult for parents to be highly involved in their children’s school.
Historical/societal Factors
The second barrier to parental involvement identified by Hornby (2000) is
historical/societal factors. The view or expectation of parental involvement in
education has changed over the years. Up until recently, there have been few
societal expectations regarding parental involvement in schools. Traditionally,
schools were viewed as places where children went to be educated. Thus
implying it was the teacher’s job to educated children, not the parents’. The role
parents play in their children’s education is changing. Ideally, parents and
teachers should work collaboratively with the best interest of the child in mind.
One aspect of this collaboration includes parent involvement in schools.
Parents’ Attitude
Parents’ attitude is Hornby’s (2000) third barrier to parental involvement.
Epstein (1990, as cited in Hornby, 2000) concluded that all parents from all
backgrounds care about their children’s education. “A common thread with
parents of all social classes and ethnic groups is a desire for a good education

22
for their children” (Karther & Lowden, 1997, p. 43). If this is the case, then why
are there still such low levels of parental involvement? Epstein (1990, as cited in
Hornby, 2000) suggests that one problem may be that few parents know what
schools expect from them or how they may contribute to their children’s
schooling. Some parents may feel that they have little to contribute to their
children’s school.
Along these lines, parents may not feel valued for several reasons. Some
parents may be intimidated by principals, teachers, and PTA leaders, while other
parents may have had unpleasant school experiences or have limited education
or low literacy levels. Therefore it may be a lack of knowledge and not feeling
valued that prevents high levels of parental involvement.
One possible solution may be to establish regular communication to build
relationships based on mutual respect and trust. For parents with low literacy
levels, schools can make phone calls or home visits to include these parents and
make them feel valued (National PTA, 2000).
School Culture
A fourth barrier to parental involvement relates to school culture. The
more autocratic the school culture or atmosphere is, the less likely the school will
be able to sustain parental involvement. Parents need to feel as though they are
welcomed in the school and their presence is valued. Parental involvement
needs to be based on a partnership between parents and teachers. Hornby
(2000) states that collaboration and partnerships between parents and teachers
is the key element to successful parental involvement. Several school factors

23
contribute to parents’ levels of involvement, including school policy, conflicts with
other responsibilities, the extent to which the school promotes a welcoming
environment, clarity of parents’ and teachers’ roles, and skill of the parents
themselves.
School policy
Administrators and school personnel often struggle with the role(s) parent
volunteers should take in the school. Several concerns have been documented
about school practices pertaining to parent training on school policy,
confidentiality, and discipline (Baker, 1996, as cited in National PTA, 2000).
Teachers, administrators, and parents need to work together to establish a
comfortable balance. Parents frequently report that they feel little direction has
been provided to them, specifically in the areas of school policy, confidentiality,
and discipline.
Time conflicts
Parents often state that time is the single greatest barrier to volunteering,
attending meetings, and joining decision-making committees at their children’s
school (Becker & Epstein, 1982). These activities are often scheduled during
times when parents are working or have other obligations. A possible solution to
this barrier is being flexible and creative in scheduling meetings and events.
Scheduling meetings during the mornings, evenings, and weekends may allow
every parent the opportunity to attend (National PTA, 2000). Schools, families,
and community members need to work together to find ways of using both time
and community resources effectively to support each other (National PTA, 2000).

24
Welcoming atmosphere
Some parents may not be as involved as they would like because they
feel unwelcomed in their children’s school. Staff interactions, attitudes, and the
physical appearance of some schools may be intimidating to parents and make
them feel unwelcomed. The National PTA (2000) suggests holding an in-service
training for all faculty to help them become aware of the importance of parent
involvement and to acquire the skills necessary to interact with parents
successfully (National PTA, 2000).
Clarity of parents’ roles
Parents play a significant role in their children’s development and
education. When teachers and administrators misunderstand the roles parents
play, it has serious implications on parent involvement. It is imperative for
teachers and administrators to understand the roles parents see themselves
playing in their children’s life and education.
Teachers and administrators are not the only ones who misunderstand
parent’s roles. Parents often misunderstand their own roles. According to the
National PTA (2000), some parents feel it is their job to send their children to
school clean, fed, and with good manners, while others want to play a more
active role in their children’s learning but do not want to overstep their bounds.
The National PTA suggests that to prevent this from happening, educators must
emphasize, in a nonthreatening way, the value of the contributions parents can
make with home learning.

25
One of the biggest misunderstandings that can be made by educators is to
assume that parents are not able to help their children succeed in school
because of their own inadequate educational background. This does a great
disservice to both the parent and student. Another incorrect assumption that
parents make is that their children’s learning and school experiences are similar
to what they experienced when they were in school. Research by Lewis and
Henderson (1997, as cited in National PTA, 2000) suggests if parents are valued
and perceived as able to help their children academically, they are much more
likely to be actively involved, regardless of their socioeconomic status or level of
education.
Clarity of teachers’ roles
There are several professional barriers to effective parent involvement in
school decision-making. One hypothesis is educators and administrators feel
that their educational training establishes a boundary between themselves and
parents (National PTA, 2000). Although the expertise gained during professional
training is essential to the function of schools, parent involvement should not be
viewed as a threat to that authority. A second hypothesis is that because
teachers have traditionally been teaching and running their classrooms
independently, they may not know how to welcome and work with others in this
domain.
Model of Parental Involvement Process
In order to promote optimal parent involvement, it is imperative to attempt
to explain parents’ fundamental decisions about involvement. A number of

26
parent characteristics interact with school characteristics and policies and may
contribute to this decision-making process. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler
(1997) believe that parental decision-making about involvement occurs in both
explicit and implicit ways. “Parents are sometimes explicitly reflective, aware,
and active in relation to their decisions about being involved in their children’s
education; in other circumstances, they appear to respond to external events or
unevaluated demands from significant aspects of the environment” (Hoover-
Dempsey & Sandler, 1997, p. 4).
Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s (1995, as cited in Hoover-Dempsey &
Sandler, 1997) model of parental involvement suggests that “parent’s
involvement decisions and choices are based on several constructs drawn from
their own ideas and experiences as well as on other constructs growing out of
environmental demands and opportunities” (p. 8). The model has five levels;
however, this study is will focus primarily on the first level (see Figure 1). The
first level of the model suggests that parents’ fundamental decision to become
involved in their children's education is a function of the following three
constructs: a) the parent’s construction of his/her role in the child’s life, b) the
parents’ sense of efficacy for helping their children succeed in school, and c) the
general invitations, demands, and opportunities for parental involvement
presented by both the child and the child’s school. According to the argument of
the full model (Figure 1), parents become

27
Level 5
Level 4
Level 3
Level 2
Level 1
Child/student outcomes
Skills and knowledge
Personal sense of efficacy for doing well in school
Tempering/mediating variables
Parents use of developmental^ Fit between parents’ involvement
Appropriate involvement strategies actions & school expectations
Mechanisms through which parental involvement
Influences child outcomes
Modeling Reinforcement Instruction
Parent’s choice of involvement forms, influenced by,
Specific domains of Mix of demands on total Specific
parent’s skill & parental time and energy invitations &
knowledge (family, employment) demands for
involvement from
child and school
Parent’s basic involvement decision, influenced by,
Parent’s construction Parent’s sense of efficacy General
of the parental role for helping his/her children invitations &
succeed in school demand for
involvement from
child & school
FIGURE 1
Model of Parental Involvement Process
Note. From Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., & Sandler, H. M. (1995). Parental
involvement in education: Why does it make a difference? Teachers College
Record, 95, 327.

28
involved in their children’s education because they have developed a
parental role construction that includes involvement, because they have a
positive sense of efficacy for helping children succeed in school, and
because they perceive general opportunities and invitations for
involvement from their children and their children’s schools (Hoover-
Dempsey & Sandler, 1997, p. 31).
Parental Role Construction
The model suggests that one factor that determines whether parents will
be involved in their children’s education is construction of the parental role. More
specifically, what do parents believe they are supposed to do in regards to their
children’s education and educational progress? A review of psychological and
educational research by Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1997) suggests that
parents’ construction of the parental role is likely to be influenced by “general
principles guiding their definition of the parental role, their beliefs about child
development and child-rearing, and their beliefs about appropriate parental
home-support roles in children's education” (p. 8). In general, parents’ role
construction is important in the involvement process because it establishes the
basic range of activities parents view as important, necessary, and permissible
for their own actions with and on behalf of their children (Hoover-Dempsey &
Sandler, 1997).
When applied to parent’s choices to be involved in their children’s
education, the basic tenants of role theory suggest that the groups to which
parents belong (i.e., family, the child’s school, the workplace, churches, the
broader culture) hold expectations about appropriate role behaviors, including
behaviors related to parents’ involvement in their children’s educational process.
These groups will communicate their role expectations to the parents and all

members. When the expectations of the group call for positive involvement in
children’s education, parents are likely to become involved to some extent.
29
Epstein and Dauber (1991) found that when all constituents agreed on
parental involvement, school involvement programs were stronger then when
such agreement was missing. On the contrary, if parents belonged to groups
that expected little or no parental involvement in their children’s education, they
were much less likely to choose to become actively involved. One thing to keep
in mind is that parents often participate in more than one group (i.e., child’s
school, workplace) and the expectations for appropriate parental involvement
behaviors may be mixed across groups. In this situation, parents are likely to
experience conflict or a lack of consensus about what are the most appropriate
role behaviors.
Parental role construction and how it pertains to child development
Parents’ ideas about child development, child-rearing, and child outcomes
also seem to affect parents’ decision to become involved in their children’s
education. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1997) suggest that the following
specific sets of beliefs are important in parents’ decision-making process of
whether to be involved in their children’s schooling: a) parents’ ideas about child
development (parents’ beliefs about how children grow and develop, their beliefs
about what children need from parents); b) their beliefs about specific, desirable
child-rearing outcomes; and c) their beliefs about the effectiveness of specific
child-rearing practices in promoting desired outcomes.

30
Parents’ Sense of Efficacy
A second major construct that influences parents’ involvement is their
sense of efficacy for helping their children succeed in school. In other words, do
parents believe that their involvement can have a positive influence on the
educational outcomes of their children? Self efficacy refers to an individual’s
capabilities for successful coping in current and future situations (Bandura,
1982), which in the context of parent involvement implies that “parents will guide
their actions (i.e., make their involvement choices) by thinking through, in
advance of their behavior, what outcomes are likely to follow the actions they
might take” (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997, p. 17).
Ozer and Bandura (1990) define self-efficacy as being concerned with the
“motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to exercise
control over given events” (p. 472). Hoover-Dempsey et al. (1992) define parent
efficacy as parents’ beliefs about their overall ability to influence their children’s
development and educational outcomes, their specific effectiveness in
influencing their children’s school learning, and their own influence relative to that
of their peers and their children’s teachers. Parenting efficacy can also be
thought of as composed of the following three variables: parents’ confidence in
helping their children with their school work, parents’ perceptions of their
confidence as their children progress to higher grades, and parents’ beliefs that
they can influence the school through school governance (Eccles & Harold,
1993). “In general, sense of efficacy for helping children succeed in school
appears linked to parents’ involvement decisions because it enables parents to

assume that their involvement activities will positively influence children’s
learning and school performance” (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997, p. 21).
The development of parenting efficacy
31
The development of parenting efficacy seems to stem from three primary
sources (Coleman & Karraker, 1997). First, relationships between infants and
toddlers and their parents significantly influence how children interact across the
life span. Second, although cultures and communities influence parenting beliefs
and values, their influence may not be as great as previously thought. Goodnow
(1985) reviewed several studies examining cultural differences pertaining to
parenting styles and characteristics. More specifically, she wanted to examine
how parents account for change and variation in their ideas about parenting and
development, and how parents’ lives or their times affect their ideas. Goodnow
found that parents are not passive recipients of cultural information and values.
Instead they screen cultural information that is presented to them and select those
which are in accordance with their own beliefs. The third influence on the
development of parenting efficacy is the actual experience between parents and
children, either their own or others.
Parenting efficacy does not appear to be a permanent construct.
Therapeutic interventions such as positive relationship building, direct child care
instruction, and modeling of appropriate parenting have proven to increase
parenting efficacy (Coleman & Karraker, 1997). Since parenting efficacy is not
permanent, parental involvement in education may increase or change parenting
efficacy.

32
According to Coleman and Karraker (1997), parents must possess the
following in order to feel efficacious: a) knowledge of appropriate child care
responses, b) confidence in their abilities to carry out those tasks, and c) the
belief that children will respond unpredictably and that others will be supportive of
their efforts. Teachers and schools often provide these components to parents
and indirectly help parents feel more efficacious. An increase in knowledge and
empowerment are often key components of parent involvement, both of which
are essential to effective parenting.
High parenting efficacy
People with a high sense of self-efficacy are confident in their own abilities,
see problems more as challenges rather than events that are beyond their control,
and show tenacity when faced with difficult situations (Jerusalem & Mittage, 1995,
as cited in Coleman & Karraker, 1997). High parenting self-efficacy is strongly
related to the parents’ ability to provide a healthy, happy, and nurturing
environment for their children. “Parents with a higher sense of efficacy for helping
their children succeed will tend to see themselves as capable in this domain, thus
they are likely to believe that their involvement will make a positive difference for
their children” (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997, p. 19). In addition, they
persevere when faced with difficulties related to their achievement of successful
involvement or their children’s difficulties in meeting school demands. To
summarize, it appears that a higher sense of efficacy seems essential to a positive
decision about parent involvement.

33
Low parenting efficacy
People with a low sense of self-efficacy tend to display significant levels of
self-doubt and anxiety when faced with adversity, assume responsibility for failure
not success, avoid challenge, and cope dysfunctionally with problems (Jerusalem
& Mittag, 1995, as cited in Coleman & Karraker, 1997). Parents with a low sense
of efficacy are “likely to avoid involvement for fear of confronting their own
perceived inadequacies or because of their assumptions that the involvement will
not produce positive outcomes for themselves or their children” (Hoover-Dempsey
& Sandler, 1997, p. 19).
Parent knowledge and skill. A factor likely to contribute to parent efficacy,
and by extension, their participation, is the parents’ own knowledge and skill.
Parents may not know how to contribute to their children’s school. Some parents
believe they have talents, but they do not know whether those talents are
needed, or how to contribute them. The National PTA (2000) suggests not
waiting for parents to offer their help, but seek them out. Teachers should invite
parents to share their knowledge and skills with them.
General Invitations, Demands, and Opportunities for Parent Involvement
According to the model, the final construct that influences parents’
involvement decisions consists of general opportunities, invitations, and demands
for involvement. Do parents perceive that the school and their children want them
to be involved? Invitations for parents’ involvement can come from both the
children and the school.

34
General opportunities, invitations, and demands presented by the child
Research suggests that there is a greater tendency for parents of younger,
as opposed to older children, to be involved in their children’s education (Eccles &
Harold, 1993). The research is mixed as to whether children’s overall level of
performance influences parents’ decision to become involved. Dauber and Epstein
(1993) reported that parents of children who were doing better academically
reported more school-related involvement opposed to parents whose children were
doing less well. Coinciding with Dauber and Epstein, Delgado-Gaitan (1992) found
that parents of better early elementary readers were more likely to take on specific
involvement actions with and on behalf of their children. However, Eccles and
Harold (1993) found that mothers of lower-achieving young adolescents used more
involvement techniques than mothers of higher-achieving young adolescents.
In addition to age and academic functioning, children’s personal qualities -
aspects of personality, learning style, and preferences - may also influence
parents’ decision to become involved (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997). Eccles
and Harold (1993) found that the quality of the parent-child relationship may
influence involvement decisions: Positive relationships likely encourage
involvement, while conflicted relationships likely discourage it. “Across the
elementary and secondary age span, it appears that such variables as children’s
developmental levels, performance patterns, qualities of personality and learning
style may function as important influences on parental decisions about
involvement” (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997, p. 29).

35
General opportunities, invitations, and demands presented by the school
Schools and teachers greatly impact parents’ decision to become involved
in their children’s education. School organizations that are focused towards
understanding students’ families often experience success in increasing parent
involvement and student performance (Comer & Hayes, 1991). Schools that
include parents in a variety of meaningful roles increase communication and trust
among parents and the school staff (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997).
Research suggests that patterns of teacher attitudes and invitations are
important to many parents’ decisions to become involved (Epstein, 1986; Epstein &
Dauber, 1991; Eccles & Harold, 1993). Epstein (1986) compared teachers who
were leaders in parent involvement to teachers who were not leaders and found
that parents with teachers who were leaders were more positive about school and
more aware of teachers’ interest in their involvement than were parents of teachers
who were not leaders. In addition, teachers who were leaders in parent
involvement worked to involve all parents, regardless of their socioeconomic level.
Combining the Constructs of Parent Involvement
According to Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1997) the most important
construct in the decision-making process appears to be the parent’s role
construction. Parent’s sense of efficacy seems to influence the decision process
second to role construction. Parents’ belief that they are capable of helping their
children enhances the power of role construction to enable a positive decision.
Perceptions of general invitations and opportunities seem to have more of a limited

36
role; they appear to have the strongest impact when role construction and sense of
efficacy are moderate to low.
As shown in Figure 2, parents’ decision to become involved is most positive
when their role construction is high and sense of efficacy is moderate to strong.
Weak role constructions appear to be related to the lowest likelihood of
involvement. In this scenario, parents generally do not believe they should be
involved in their children’s education.
Four important observations can be made from Figure 2. First, moderate
to strong levels of positive role construction appear to be essential for high
likelihood of involvement. It is imperative for parents to feel that they should be
involved in their children’s education. Second, parents’ sense of efficacy for
helping their children with school appears to be an importance, but secondary.
Third, sense of efficacy by itself, without moderate to high levels of role
construction, does not appear likely to lead to a positive decision about
involvement. It is essential for the beliefs of “I could help” and “I should help” to
be combined; independently they do not make a positive impact. Fourth,
invitations appear to increase the chances of positive decisions about
involvement within various moderate-to-low combinations of the other two
constructs (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997).
Strategies for Improving Parental Involvement
Given the information documented in the previous section, parent
involvement is seen to have numerous benefits (e.g., Ballentine, 1999; Epstein et
al., 1997; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al., 1996). However, when most

37
Level of invitations and demands
from children and school
Level of parental efficacy
High Medium Low
High/strong role construction
High
H
H
H
Medium
H
H
M
Low
H
M
M
Medium/moderate role construction
High
H
H
M
Medium
M
M
M
Low
M
M
L
Low/weak role construction
High
M
L
L
Medium
L
L
L
Low
L
L
L
Note: H=high, M=moderate, L=low
FIGURE 2
Schematic Representation of Hypotheses Concerning the Likelihood of Parental
Involvement by Level of Role Construction
Note: From Hoover-Dempsey, K. V. & Sandler, H. M. (1997). Why do parents
become involved in their children’s education? Review of Educational Research,
67, 3-42.

38
schools attempt to increase the involvement of parents, they are not successful
(Hornby, 2000). Careful analysis by Hornby revealed that attempts generally
focus on putting more effort into developing existing forms of parent-school
contact. This approach is referred to as first order change by Rosenthal and
Sawyers (1996) and seldom works. First order change occurs when
organizations respond to requests for change by appearing to do something
different, while the same basic methods and rules are used (Rosenthal &
Sawyers, 1996). Rosenthal and Sawyers propose that what is really needed is
second order change. Second order change “involves a more drastic alteration
in assumptions about working with parents, as well as the implementation of
different strategies for parent involvement. It requires a re-evaluation of the basis
for parent involvement and a willingness to try new approaches11 (Hornby, 2000,
p. 151) changing both the rules and methods used. However, in order for this
change to occur, more systemic (Fisch et al., 1983, as cited in Hornby, 2000) and
ecological (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, as cited in Hornby, 2000) perspectives need to
be examined.
From a systemic perspective, in order to bring about change a disturbance
of the status quo of minimal parent involvement must first occur (Hornby, 2000).
For this to occur, a strategic intervention is needed to disturb the equilibrium. In
order for the intervention to be successful in changing the status quo, it needs to
be something quite different that what has been tried before. Systemic theory
suggests this strategic intervention will be what breaks the cycle of low parent
involvement and creates the wanted change in the school.

39
From an ecological perspective, the culture of the school and the social
environment in which the teachers work must support parent involvement in
education (Hornby, 2000). In this perspective, there are several components
within the education system responsible for determining how effectively parents
are involved in education. Therefore, attention must be paid to all components of
the education system in order for effective change to occur. The four primary
components of educational systems include: government; local education
authority; schools; and teachers. However, it is crucial to remember that
“developing a relationship based on trust between parents and professionals”
(Sussell et al., 1996, p. 55) is the key to any successful parent intervention.
Teacher Qualities that Influence Parent Involvement
Drawing on the ecological model, it becomes clear that parent involvement
involves complex relationships, and as such is influenced by parent and teacher
qualities. Several teacher factors influence parents’ involvement in their
children’s education. Research by Epstein and Dauber (1991) compared school
programs and teachers’ practices of parent involvement in inner-city elementary
and middle schools. Overall, they found that when teachers make parent
involvement a part of their regular teaching practice parents are more confident
in their abilities to help their children in the elementary grades, increase their
interactions with their children at home, and rate their teachers as better teachers
overall. More specifically, they found that attitudes about parent involvement
were more positive for teachers who taught in self-contained classrooms and for
those who perceived high support for parent involvement from their students’

40
parents and colleagues. The success teachers had involving “hard-to-reach”
parents (i.e., working parents, less educated parents, single parents, etc) was
also positively correlated with more positive attitudes towards parent
involvement.
Epstein and Dauber (1991) also found differences in the level of parent
involvement between elementary and middle school. Teachers in elementary
schools reported significantly stronger programs in parent involvement then
teachers in middle schools. Differences were found in the areas of parenting and
child development, volunteers, learning activities at home, and decision making.
Teacher Efficacy
In the same way that parenting efficacy significantly impacts the ability to
parent, teacher efficacy is one teacher quality that consistently has been
identified as a key factor influencing teachers’ practices (Ashton & Webb, 1983;
Benz, Bradley, Alderman, & Flowers, 1992; Dembo & Gibson, 1985; Henson,
Kogan, & Vacha-Haase, 2001; Kronberg, 1999; Weasmer & Woods, 1998),
presumably including their willingness and skill at involving parents. “Teacher
efficacy has consistently been described as one of the most significant
contributors to teacher effectiveness and positive student outcomes” (Kronberg,
1999, p. 7). Bandura (1986) defines perceived self-efficacy as one’s judgment of
one’s “capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain
designated types of performances. It is not concerned with the skills one has but
with judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses” (p. 391).

41
Therefore, teaching efficacy is defined as the perceived degree of effectiveness
of instruction on learning (Weasmer & Woods, 1998).
Teaching efficacy exists on two levels: general teaching efficacy and
personal teaching efficacy. General teaching efficacy refers to teachers’
perceptions that teaching can influence students’ learning (Weasmer & Woods,
1998). Bandura (1986) refers to this as outcome expectancy, whereby a person
believes, “This can be done.” A positive sense of efficacy suggests that students
can learn regardless of their capabilities, home, or peer influences. Teachers
with a low sense of general teaching efficacy believe that students cannot or will
not learn, regardless of the influences exerted by schools.
Personal teaching efficacy refers to an individual teacher’s belief in his/her
own effectiveness in teaching, a perception that may be situation specific (Ashton
& Webb, 1983; Benz, Bradley, Alderman, & Flowers, 1992). Bandura (1986)
refers to this as efficacy expectancy, whereby a person believes, “I can do this.”
Teachers with a high sense of personal teaching efficacy are more likely to
expect that all students can learn and to feel responsible for that learning.
Teachers with a low sense of personal teaching efficacy believe that they lack
certain skills to be effective. It is their lack of skill, not the student that prevents
learning from occurring. Clearly, “one’s personal teaching efficacy governs one’s
motivation, thought processes, emotions, and willingness to expend energy”
(Weasmer & Woods, 1998, p. 245).
According to Kronberg (1999), there are “strong correlations between
teacher efficacy and classroom practices” (p. 7). Ashton and Webb (1983)

42
examined teachers’ sense of efficacy and the extent to which teachers believe
they can influence student learning. They found that teachers with high efficacy
attitudes tended to maintain high academic standards, concentrated on academic
instruction, monitored students’ on-task behavior, and developed a warm
supportive classroom environment. In addition, they held positive attitudes
toward their low-achieving students and worked to build friendly, non-threatening
relationships with them. Teachers with low efficacy attitudes tended to
concentrate their efforts, concerns, and affection on high-achieving students;
sorted and stratified their classes according to ability and gave preferential
treatment; and had negative attitudes toward their low-achieving students, using
negative means of controlling their behavior.
Dembo and Gibson (1985) proposed that lowered levels of parent-teacher
contact may be due to the frustration and inefficacy resulting from teachers’
reactions to characteristics of low-achieving students’ parents. Research by
Gibson and Dembo (1984) found that important behavioral differences that lead
to variation in student achievement exist between high- and low-efficacy
elementary school teachers. These behaviors include classroom organization,
instruction, and teacher feedback provided to students who are experiencing
difficulty. More specifically, they found that low-efficacy teachers spent almost 50
percent of their time in small-group instruction, while high-efficacy teachers spent
only 28 percent of their time in small groups.
Significant differences were also found in feedback patterns following a
student’s incorrect response. Low-efficacy teachers were more likely than high-

43
efficacy teachers to give the answer, ask another student, or allow another
student to call out the correct response. High-efficacy teachers were more
effective than low-efficacy teachers in leading students to correct responses
through their questioning (Gibson & Dembo, 1984).
Grade Level
The current research suggests that there are substantial differences in the
levels of parent involvement between elementary, middle, and high school.
Parents are much more likely to be involved in their children’s education in the
elementary grades, as opposed to middle and high school. Furthermore,
significant differences in the levels of parent involvement exist within elementary
grades. Lower grade levels have been associated with teachers’ use of more
parent involvement strategies (Becker & Epstein, 1982).
According to Epstein (1985), three factors influenced teachers’ use of
parent involvement practices. First, the grade level being taught was the most
important influence. Teachers of younger students (i.e., grade 1) made more
frequent use of parent involvement practices than teachers of older students (i.e.,
grade 3 and 5). Second, parents actively involved at their children’s school
influenced teachers to use more parent involvement in learning activities at
home. Parents who are actively involved in their children’s school convey the
message to teachers that parents are willing to improve the school and its
programs. Teachers may be more willing to ask all parents, not just those who
are involved, to conduct learning activities at home (Epstein, 1985). Third,
“teacher commitment of time and energy to the organization of substantive

44
exchanges with parents increases the teacher’s use of parent involvement in
learning activities at home“(Epstein, 1985, p. 20).
Teacher Training
Another factor that influences parent involvement is teacher training.
Despite the support for parent involvement from a research perspective,
relatively few teachers make systemic use of parent involvement activities
(Epstein, 1985; Greenwood & Hickman, 1991). In part, this may be due to “the
lack of attention to parent involvement theories and practices in teacher training
programs” (Stallworth & Williams, 1981, as cited in Epstein, 1985, p. 23).
Chavkin and Williams (1988) surveyed 575 teacher educators and found that
only 4% indicated they taught a complete course on parent involvement; 15%
reported providing part of a course on the topic, and 37% reported having one
class period on the topic. Overall, the survey found that very little undergraduate
training in parent involvement was occurring for prospective elementary school
teachers.
In the same study, when teachers and principals were asked if training in
parent involvement was necessary, 70% of the teachers and over 80% of the
principals agreed a required course was necessary (Chavkin & Williams, 1988).
Swick and McKnight (1989) found that when conditions are arranged to promote
parent involvement, teachers respond in a positive manner. Teachers who were
educated with regard to the value of parent involvement were more actively
involved in professional organizations, given essential supports (class size,
administrative support), and were most supportive of parent involvement.

45
Teachers who did not support parent involvement appeared to lack the
philosophical basis for attempting such efforts and lacked a work setting that
expected and promoted parent involvement.
According to Epstein, most teachers lack the skills and knowledge to work
effectively with parents. Pre-service and in-service training is needed to give
teachers information on the positive and negative effects of parent involvement,
as well as, how to design, implement, and evaluate the practices for their own
classrooms.
Recent research by Shores (1998) indicates that preservice training in
parent involvement has received increased attention at the undergraduate level.
The Harvard Family Research Project (Shartrand et al., 1994, as cited in Shores,
1998) has recommended the following criteria for preservice teacher training
programs: a) a minimum of five required courses that address parent
involvement, b) coverage of at least four types of parent involvement, c)
experiential learning opportunities, and d) integration of parent involvement as a
theme across the curriculum. Research by Shores (1998) suggests that teacher
educators are incorporating aspects of parent involvement by either embedding it
into their already existing curriculum or by teaching an entire course from the
perspective of family involvement.
Teacher Skill
Epstein (1985) conducted a study examining whether teachers could
involve more parents than were currently involved, particularly those who would
not get involved on their own without leadership from the teacher. In this study,

46
parent involvement was defined as the teacher’s requests and instructions to
parents to assist at home with learning activities related to their children’s
schoolwork. Her data did not support the widespread belief that teachers use
parent involvement activities only with better-educated parents. Teachers who
were leaders in the use of parent involvement (i.e., teachers who were
successful in involving parents) were equally likely to use parent involvement
techniques with parents who had many, some, or few years of formal schooling,
were poor, and/or single parents. Teachers who were not leaders in the use of
parent involvement (i.e., teachers who were not successful in involving parents)
and whose students’ parents had little education, claimed they did not use parent
involvement because the parents lacked the ability and/or willingness to help.
Parents whose children’s teachers were leaders in parent involvement
were significantly more likely than other parents to report that they: a) recognized
that the teacher worked hard to interest parents in the instructional program, b)
received most of their ideas for home involvement from the teachers, c) felt that
they should help their children at home, d) understood more presently than
previously about what their child was being taught in school, e) were more
positive about the teacher’s interpersonal skills, and f) rated the teacher higher in
overall teaching ability (Epstein, 1985). Teachers who did not frequently involve
parents in their children’s education made more stereotypic judgements about
the involvement and abilities of less educated parents, lower socioeconomic
status parents, and single parents. These findings suggest that “by getting all
parents involved, teachers may be able to help students overcome difficulties in

mastering basic skills experienced by many students from less-educated
families” (Epstein, 1985, p. 20).
47
In the same study, Epstein (1985) examined whether teachers treated
single parents differently from married parents in terms of parental involvement,
and how parents in differently structured families perceived the teachers’
requests. She found that single and married parents were similar in their
perceptions about parent involvement. However, teachers’ perceptions and
expectations were significantly different for the two groups. Teachers who were
leaders in the use of parent involvement made equal demands on single and
married parents to help at home, and rated single and married parents as equally
helpful and responsible on learning activities. Teachers who were not leaders
made more demands on single parents, and rated single parents as less helpful
and responsible on learning activities. Teacher-leaders were more likely to
obtain positive results from all parents - not just those who were known to be
helpful to teachers and to children.
These findings suggest that the differences were among the teachers -
not parent marital status - which influenced parent awareness and recognition of
teachers’ efforts. In conclusion, according to Epstein and Dauber (1991),
“studies will continue to show that better educated families are more involved, on
average, in their children’s education until researchers include measures of
teacher practices to involve all parents” (p. 290).

48
Role of Socioeconomic Status
Socioeconomic status is a complex family characteristic, that by
extension, affects schools in profound ways. While it has been well established
throughout the literature that family status variables (i.e., income, education,
ethnicity, marital status) are related to parental involvement and, subsequently,
children’s success in school (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997), less attention
has been directed toward family involvement specifically.
According to Lareau (1987, 2000, 2001), social class has a powerful
impact on parent involvement patterns. She argues that, “social class
(independent of ability) does affect schooling. Teachers ask for parent
involvement; social class shapes the resources which parents have at their
disposal to comply with teachers’ requests for assistance” (Lareau, 2000, p. 2).
For example, between 40 and 60 percent of working-class and lower-class
parents fail to attend parent-teacher conferences (Lareau, 1987). Middle-class
parents consistently take a more active role than working-class and lower-class
parents in the areas of promoting verbal development, reading to children, taking
children to the library, attending school events, enrolling children in summer
school, and making complaints to the principal.
Studies by Lareau (1987, 2000, 2001) found that parents of differing
socioeconomic backgrounds appear to have different understandings of the
support roles they should take in their children’s elementary education. Lareau
examined the beliefs of parents in a predominantly working-class school with
those of parents in a predominantly upper-middle-class school and found that the

49
working-class parents had a “separated” view of home and school. By
“separated”, Lareau implies that working-class parents tended to believe that
their roles involved getting their children ready for school (i.e., having good
manners, getting them to school on time), not extending beyond these basic
preparations. These parents demonstrated a strong tendency to accept schools’
decisions about their children, such as classroom placement and/or retention.
Lareau suggests that these parents accepted the schools decisions because
they believed that schools, not parents, were primarily responsible for making
decisions about educational progress.
Conversely, upper-middle-class parents were characterized as having an
interconnectedness between home and school. These parents tended to see
themselves as playing an integral role, with the school, in their children’s
education. These parents saw it as their role to actively monitor their children’s
progress and education, often intervening in school decisions when necessary.
Lareau (2000) provides three possible explanations for such dramatic
differences in working-class and upper-middle-class parents views of parent
involvement: 1) that parents differ in how much they value education; 2) that
schools produce these patterns as a result of substantial differences in the
quality and quantity of interactions with parents; and 3) that social class provides
parents with different resources and outlooks, which in turn shapes their
behavior.
Contrary to research by Lareau, other researchers have found that family
status variables do not fully explain parents’ decisions to become involved in their

50
children’s education; nor do these variables explain the linkages between parent
involvement and child and adolescent school outcomes (Hoover-Dempsey &
Sandler, 1997). Slaughter-Defoe (1985) found that socioeconomic status does
not determine parents’ thinking, actions, or influence related to involvement in
their children’s education.
A family’s status does not always predispose them to a predictable or
fixed outcome. For example, predispositions grounded in status do not appear to
determine the value parents put on education, their wishes to be involved or their
involvement in their children’s school progress, their interest in having their
children succeed in school, or their aspirations for their children’s achievement
(Lareau, 1987). Lowden (1993, as cited in Karther & Lowden, 1997) examined
low socioeconomic families in Appalachia and North Carolina and found that
parents who experienced school failure still desired education for their children.
These parents hoped for higher school success for their children than they had,
and had an appreciation for teachers.
Summary
This literature review describes the importance of parent involvement, as
well as factors that inhibit or promote it. Although teacher attitudes and beliefs
are implicated by several authors (e.g., Epstein et al., 1997; Hoover-Dempsy &
Sandler, 1997; Hornby, 2000) as important contributory factors, attitudes and
underlying explanations for them have received little if any direct attention. The
purpose of this study was to attempt to ascertain fundamental factors that
influence teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement. Given the literature

51
reviewed here, several factors seem likely to contribute to teacher expectations
and are explored by this study, including teacher efficacy, training, years of
experience, and school socioeconomic status.
Research suggests that there are substantial differences in the levels of
parent involvement between elementary, middle, and high school. Parents are
much more likely to be involved in their children’s education in the elementary
grades, as opposed to middle and high school. Furthermore, significant
differences in the levels of parent involvement exist within elementary grades.
Lower grade levels have been associated with teachers’ use of more parent
involvement strategies. Because involvement varies across levels of education,
this study used only early elementary teachers, thereby controlling for this effect.

CHAPTER 3
METHOD
Participants
The subjects for this study consisted of kindergarten through third grade
elementary school teachers in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. All teachers
worked in public elementary schools for Anne Arundel County. A letter was sent
to all 77 elementary schools in the county requesting participation in the study.
Of the 77 elementary schools, 34 principals granted entrance into their school.
Surveys were sent to all schools in which principals consented. Six of the
schools that participated were Title I schools. The percentage of Title I schools
in the sample was reflective of the population. Eighteen-percent of the schools in
the county are Title I schools and 17.6% of the schools in the sample were Title I
schools. A total of 353 surveys were distributed to the kindergarten through third
grade teachers and 170 were returned—a 48.1% return rate.
Setting
Anne Arundel County is the fifth largest school system in Maryland and
one of the fiftieth largest school systems in the United States. The population of
Anne Arundel County is 497,893 with 81.3% Caucasian origin, 13.6% African
American origin, 2.6% Hispanic or Latino origin, 2.3% Asian origin, .3% American
Indian or Native Alaskan origin, and .1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
origin.
52

53
Anne Arundel County has a staff of more than 4,600 teachers and is very
culturally and economically diverse with a student population of nearly 75,000.
There are 117 schools in Anne Arundel County: 77 elementary schools, 19
middle schools, 12 high schools, and 9 specialized schools. This study focused
on elementary schools. Anne Arundel County has 15 Title I elementary schools,
six of which participated in the study.
Measures
Parent Involvement Rating Scale (PIRS)
Information on teachers’ perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent
involvement was obtained from teachers’ responses on the Parent Involvement
Rating Scale (see Appendix C). The scale was developed by the researcher and
is based on Epstein’s (1987) five types of parent involvement: parenting,
communication, volunteering, helping with learning activities at home, and
decision-making. Each item assesses a different type of parent involvement.
The scale consists of 21 items assessing teachers’ attitudes about parent
involvement. Participants were asked to circle the number that best describes
how important they believe each item is using a five-point Likert scale ranging
from not at all important (1) to extremely important (5). See Table 1 for sample
items.
Focus group
The instrument was further reviewed by a panel of 4 university faculty with
expertise in parent involvement in education and was deemed consistent with the

literature. As part of instrument development, a focus group was conducted to
examine the content validity of the measure. The participants
54
Table 1. Sample of Parent Involvement Rating Scale
1. Students arrive with the supplies (i.e., pencils and
paper) necessary to complete their schoolwork. (parenting)
1
2
3
4
5
2. Parents ensure their children’s homework is completed
each night, (learning activities at home)
1
2
3
4
5
3. Teachers invite parents to class to talk about their jobs
or areas of expertise, (volunteering
1
2
3
4
5
4. Teachers remind parents of important school meetings,
(communication)
1
2
3
4
5
5. Parents attend parent advisory committee meetings,
(decision-making)
1
2
3
4
5
were 4 elementary school teachers from Alachua County in Gainesville, Florida.
The researcher met with the elementary school teachers to discuss the study,
obtain consent for participation, and distribute materials (see Appendix D). The
focus group participants were asked to complete the Parent Involvement Rating
Scale. The 21 items were presented in random order to the focus group
participants.
After completing the measure, they completed a questionnaire designed to
provide feedback about the measure. For example, participants were asked
whether any of the items were confusing and to provide suggestions for
improving the clarity of the measure. The information from the focus group and
committee members’ suggestions were used to create the final draft of the
survey.
Pilot study
A pilot study examining the reliability of the final draft was conducted as
part of instrument development. The participants were 30 teachers from P. K.

55
Yonge Developmental Research School In Gainesville, Florida and Crofton
Woods Elementary School in Crofton, Maryland (see Appendix E). The internal
consistency reliabilities yielded a Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of .85. According
to Gall, Borg, and Gall (1996), tests that yield scores with a reliability of .80 or
higher are sufficiently reliable for research purposes.
Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES)
Information on teachers’ efficacy was obtained using the Teacher Efficacy
Scale (TES) (see Appendix F) developed by Gibson and Dembo (1984). This
measure asks teachers to indicate “the degree to which they agree or disagree
with each statement” on a six-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree
(1) to strongly agree (6).
The TES has two 8-item scales: a general teaching efficacy scale and a
personal teaching efficacy scale (Fritz, Miller-Heyl, Kreutzer, & MacPhee, 1995;
Gibson & Dembo, 1984). General teaching efficacy represents the belief that
teachers’ ability to bring about change is significantly limited by external factors
to the teacher (i.e., home environment, family background, parental influences)
(Gibson & Dembo, 1984). This scale measures the belief that external factors
constrain any teacher’s ability to bring about change (Fritz, Miller-Heyl, Kreutzer,
& MacPhee, 1995).
Personal teaching efficacy represents the belief that the respondent has
the skills and abilities to bring about student learning. Thus, this scale measures
respondents’ belief in their personal ability to bring about changes in student
learning and behavior (Fritz, Miller-Heyl, Kreutzer, & MacPhee, 1995). Analysis

56
of internal consistency reliabilities yielded Cronbach’s alpha coefficients of .75 for
the General Teaching Efficacy factor, .78 for the Personal Teaching Efficacy
factor, and .79 for the total 16 items (Gibson & Dembo, 1984). A multitrait-
multimethod analysis supported both convergent and discriminant validity for
both scales.
Teacher Demographic Information
Teachers also were asked to complete the Teacher Information Survey
(see Appendix G). This survey was developed by the researcher to obtain
demographic information about the participants and their schools. Questions
addressed their backgrounds (i.e., years of experience, educational level,
gender, etc.) as well as their teaching environments (i.e., average socioeconomic
status of their students). In addition, it included three questions that asked about
the teachers’ previous exposure and/or training in parent involvement and eight
questions about teachers’ behaviors pertaining to parent involvement. This
information was used in conjunction with the Parent Involvement Rating Scale
and the TES to ascertain which factors influence teachers’ use of parent
involvement.
Procedure
In the fall of 2002, a letter was sent to the principal at each elementary
school in Anne Arundel County inviting participation in the study and requesting
the number of kindergarten through third grade teachers at their school (see
Appendix A). Forty-four percent of the principals agreed to participate. Once
principal permission was obtained, all kindergarten through third grade teachers

57
were given a research packet containing a consent form (see Appendix B),
Parent Involvement Rating Scale, TES, and Teacher Information Survey and
invited to participate. Research packets were distributed to 353 teachers in
participating schools. The order of administration was consistent across
participants: Parent Involvement Rating Scale, TES, and a Teacher Information
Survey. After completing the research packets, participating teachers were
instructed to mail them to the principal investigator in the self-addressed,
stamped envelope provided. Three weeks after distribution of research packets,
postcards were sent to all eligible teachers in the participating schools as a
reminder to those teachers who had not completed the questionnaires and a
thank you to those who had completed the questionnaires (see Appendix H).
Data were collected until 170 completed research packets were obtained.
All participants, including those who did not wish to participate, were
treated fairly. The number of participants in this study allowed for sufficient
power in data analysis.
Analyses
This study examined teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement based
on teacher- and school-related variables such as teacher efficacy, years of
teaching experience, preservice teacher training, and schools’ socioeconomic
status. Specifically, this study addressed the following research question: What
are the effects of teacher efficacy, years of teaching experience, and preservice
teacher training on teachers’ perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent
involvement while controlling for grade and schools’ socioeconomic status?

58
Teacher efficacy is defined as the subjects total score on the Teacher
Efficacy Scale. Years of teaching experience is derived from a self report on the
Teacher Information Survey. Preservice teacher training is the self reported
amount of training on the Teacher Information Survey. Grade is the current
grade taught as reported on the Teacher Information Survey. Schools’
socioeconomic status is teachers’ perceptions of schools’ socioeconomic status
as reported on the Teacher Information Survey.
Teacher
Years of teaching
Teacher
efficacy
experience
training
Teachers' Perception
of Teacher/Parent Roles
in Parent Involvement
FIGURE 3
Model of Research Question

CHAPTER 4
RESULTS
Descriptive Results
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of teacher efficacy,
years of teaching experience, and preservice teacher training on teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement. Table 2 shows the descriptive characteristics
of the teachers in the sample. The sample included representation from grades
kindergarten to third as follows: 18.2% taught kindergarten; 25.3%, first grade;
31.2%, second grade; and 24.7%, third grade. Of the 170 participants, nearly all
(97.1%) were female. In terms of ethnicity, most of the sample was Caucasian
(95.9%) with 2.4% African-American, 1.2% Asian-American, and .6% Latino-a.
The majority of the sample (41.2%) held a Bachelor’s degree, with 57.6% holding
Master’s degrees, and 1.2% Specialist’s degree.
Table 2. Characteristics of Teachers in Survey (N=170)
Teacher Characteristics
n
Percent
Grade Level:
Kindergarten
32
18.2
First
43
25.3
Second
53
31.2
Third
42
24.7
Gender:
Female
165
97.1
Male
5
2.9
Education:
Bachelor’s
70
41.2
Master’s
98
57.6
Specialist
2
1.2
Caucasian
163
95.9
59

60
Table 10. Continued
Teacher Characteristics
n
Percent
Ethnicity:
African-American
4
2.4
Asian-American
2
1.2
Latino-a
1
0.6
Latino-a
1
0.6
Years of teaching experience ranged from 1 to 38 years, with a mean of
12.54 years (SD=9.52). The mean age of participants was 38.62 years
(SD=11.60), ranging from 22 to 63 years of age. The Teacher Information
Survey also obtained information regarding teachers’ perceptions of their
schools’ socioeconomic status (see Table 3). A series of questions addressed
the extent of their preservice teacher training involving parents (see Table 4) and
their perceptions of the effectiveness of their preservice teacher training in this
area (see Table 6). Other questions addressed current professional practices,
including inservice teacher training involving parents (see Table 7) and whether
or not they send home a newsletter (see Table 8).
Table 3. Schools’ Socioeconomic Status
Schools’ socioeconomic status
n
Percent
Low
21
12.4
Low/middle
71
41.8
Middle
43
25.3
Middle/high
31
18.2
High
4
2.4
Teachers were asked to indicate the amount of preservice teacher training
they received: no training, one class period devoted to parent involvement, part
of a course devoted to parent involvement, or an entire course devoted to parent
involvement. The majority of the sample (60.6%) reported that they received no
training in parent involvement. One-fifth reported that part of a course was

61
devoted to parent involvement, with only 3.5% reporting having taken and entire
course.
Table 4. Preservice Teacher Training
Training
n
Percent
No training
103
60.6
One class period
27
15.9
Part of a course
34
20.0
Entire course
6
3.5
Due to the lack of variability within this independent variable the data were
reduced to categorized variables of “no training" or “some training” for the
purpose of the regression. The no training category remained the same. The
new category was formed by adding the results from one class period, part of a
course, and an entire course. With this new conceptualization, 60.6% received
no training in parent involvement and 39.4% received some training (see Table
5).
Table 5. Revised Preservice Teacher Training
Training
n
Percent
No training
103
60.6
Some training
67
39.4
Teachers were asked to indicate the extent to which they felt that their
preservice teacher training prepared them for working with parents: not at all, fair,
moderate, thorough, or extensive. It is important to note that the teachers were
not consistent in their reporting. Sixty percent of the sample stated that they
received no training in parent involvement, yet 56% stated that their preservice
teacher training did not prepare them at all for involving parents. Therefore,
although a few teachers reported they did not receive training in parent

62
involvement, they still believe their preservice training prepared them somewhat
for involving families.
Table 6. Teachers’ Perceptions of their Preservice Teacher Training
Teachers’ Perceptions
n
Percent
Not at all
95
55.9
Fair
39
22.9
Moderate
30
17.6
Thorough
5
2.9
Extensive
1
0.6
Table 7. Inservice Teacher Training in Parent Involvement
Inservice Teacher Training
n
Percent
0 hours
59
34.7
1-2 hours
67
39.4
3-5 hours
32
18.8
7-9 hours
4
2.4
10+ hours
8
4.7
Teachers were asked to report whether they sent home a classroom
newsletter, and if so, how often one was sent home. Ten percent reported that
they did not send home a classroom newsletter and 90.0% said they did send
home a classroom newsletter. Of the teachers who send home newsletters, the
majority reported sending them home either weekly or monthly.
Table 8. Newsletter Frequency
Frequency
n
Percent
No
17
10.0
Yes
153
90.0
Daily
2
1.2
Weekly
37
21.8
2 times a month
8
4.7
Monthly
102
60.0
Once a semester
3
1.8
Once a year
1
0.6
To determine the most common ways teachers involve parents of children
in their classes, they were asked to report on a scale of I (never) to 5 (often) how
often the following occurred in their own classroom: discuss parenting strategies

63
(e.g. discipline, development) with parents, send notes (other than report cards)
home discussing students’ progress, send newsletters home to parents, invite
parents to chaperone class field trips, invite parents to talk about their jobs or
areas of expertise, provide parents with specific strategies to help children
master academic skills, send home suggestions for educational games or
activities, and remind parents of important school meetings.
Table 9 indicates that the most common ways teachers involve parents
are by sending notes home to discuss student progress, sending newsletters
home, inviting parents to chaperone field trips, sending home suggestions for
educational games, and reminding parents of important school meetings. Thirty
percent of the sample reported never or seldomly talking with parents about
parenting strategies and 37% of the sample reported never or seldomly inviting
parents to talk about their jobs, hobbies, or areas of expertise.
Table 9. Means Through Which Teachers Involve Parents
Ways teachers involve parents
n
Percent
Discuss parenting strategies with parents
1 (never)
18
10.6
2
38
22.4
3 (sometimes)
78
45.9
4
28
16.5
5 (never)
8
4.7
Send notes home discussing students’ progress
1 (never)
0
0
2
5
2.9
3 (sometimes)
49
28.8
4
57
33.5
5 (often)
59
34.7
Send newsletters home to parents
1 (never)
18
10.6
2
10
5.9
3 (sometimes)
28
16.5
4
40
23.5
5 (often)
74
43.5

64
Table 9. Continued
Ways teachers involve parents
n
Percent
Invite parents to chaperone field trips
1 (never)
0
0
2
1
0.6
3 (sometimes)
11
6.5
4
26
15.3
5 (often)
132
77.6
Invite parents to talk about their jobs or areas of expertise
1 (never)
25
14.7
2
38
22.4
3 (sometimes)
71
41.8
4
22
12.9
5 (often)
14
8.2
Provide parents with specific strategies to help children
master academic skills
1 (never)
0
0
2
8
4.7
3 (sometimes)
44
25.9
4
70
41.2
5 (often)
48
28.2
Send home suggestions for educational games or
activities
1 (never)
2
1.2
2
22
12.9
3 (sometimes)
53
31.2
4
55
32.4
5 (often)
38
22.4
Remind parents of important school meetings
1 (never)
2
1.2
2
5
2.9
3 (sometimes)
20
11.8
4
58
34.1
5 (often)
85
50.0
The last item on the Teacher Information Survey asked teachers to
indicate the best way parents get in touch with them. It is important to note that
this item was optional for participants. Therefore, the total number of participants
that chose to answer this question was 165. Teachers were asked to choose all

65
that apply from the following list: notes, pick up/drop off, email, and/or phone (see
Table 10).
Table 10. Best Ways Parents get in Touch with Teachers
Method of Getting in Touch
n
Percent
Notes
Yes
164
96.5
No
1
0.6
Pick up/drop off
Yes
120
70.6
No
45
26.5
Email
Yes
34
20.0
No
131
77.1
Phone
Yes
161
94.7
No
3
1.8
Bivariate Correlations
To examine the relationships among the variables of interest (PIRS, TES,
Years of teaching experience, current grade taught, schools’ socioeconomic
status, and preservice teacher training), Pearson Product Moment correlations
were calculated. The full correlation matrix can be seen in Table 11. As
expected, PIRS score was positively correlated with TES score (r = .215, p=.01).
Teacher efficacy was significantly correlated with preservice teacher training (r =
.184, p=.05). Years of teaching experience was positively correlated with
teachers’ perceptions of their schools’ socioeconomic status (r = .304, p=.01) and
negatively correlated with preservice teacher training (r = -.303, p=.01). Current
grade being taught was not significantly correlated with any of the other
independent variables.

66
Table 11. Bivariate Correlations of Independent Variables
PIRS
TES
Yr Exp
Grade
SES
PTT
PIRS
1.00
.215“
.072
-.091
-.023
.041
TES
1.00
.104
.004
.120
.184*
Yr Exp
1.00
-.035
.304“
-.303“
Grade
1.00
.014
.150
SES
1.00
-.022
PTT
1.00
* Correlation is significant at .05 level
‘‘Correlation is significant at .01 level
A Pearson Product Moment correlation was conducted to examine the
relationship among additional variables of interest. Table 13 displays the
correlation between preservice teacher training and education (i.e., Bachelor’s,
Master’s) and Table 14 displays the correlation between education and years of
teaching experience. As can be seen, there is a significant, positive relationship
between education and years of teaching experience (r = .549, p=.01).
Table 13. Correlation Between PPT and Education
PTT
Education
PPT
1.00
-.145
Education
1.00
Table 14. Correlation Between Education and Years of Teaching Experience
Education
Yrs. Experience
Education
1.00
.549“
Yrs. Experience
1.00
“Correlation is significant at .01 level
Multiple Regression Analysis
The purpose of this study was to examine which independent variable(s)
best predict teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement, specifically, to
determine which of the independent variables (teacher efficacy, years of teaching
experience, and preservice teacher training), best predicts teachers’ perceptions
of parent involvement while controlling for schools’ socioeconomic status and

67
grade. A multiple regression using SPSS was conducted to analyze the data.
The assumptions of independence, equal variance, linearity, and conditional
normality were met for the independent variables. Therefore, the use of a
multiple regression was determined to be appropriate to test for predictors of
teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement.
Table 15 presents the results of the multiple regression analysis. Teacher
efficacy was the only independent variable that reached significance, preservice
teacher training and years of experience did not. Therefore, of the 3 independent
variables, teacher efficacy was the only variable that predicted teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement while controlling for schools’ SES and grade.
These results imply that teachers with a higher sense of teacher efficacy have
more positive perceptions of parent involvement.
Table 15. Summary of Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Teachers’
Perceptions of Parent Involvement in Education (N=170)
Variable
B
SEB
P
t
P
Teacher efficacy
.205
.077
.208
2.66*
.009
Years of teaching experience
6.470E-02
.068
.081
.957
.340
Grade
-.677
.552
-.094
-1.22
.221
Schools’ SES
-.583
.608
-.071
-.884
.378
Preservice teacher training
.632
1.28
.04
.484
.629
Note. R2=.063; Adjusted R2=.034
*p<05
Note. Teacher efficacy is defined as the subjects total score on the Teacher
Efficacy Scale. Years of teaching experience is derived from a self report on the
Teacher Information Survey. Preservice teacher training is the self reported
amount of training on the Teacher Information Survey. Grade is the current
grade taught as reported on the Teacher Information Survey. Schools’
socioeconomic status is teachers’ perceptions of schools’ socioeconomic status
as reported on the Teacher Information Survey.

CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION
Parent involvement in education is a relatively new field and many gaps
exist in the current body of research. A review of the literature suggests that little
empirical evidence and research exists on teachers’ perceptions of parent
involvement and why teachers initially decide to involve parents. More
specifically, which factors affect teachers’ decisions to involve parents in their
children’s education remains an unanswered question. The majority of the
literature focuses on ways in which students benefit from parent involvement
(Ballantine, 1999; Epstein et al., 1997; Karther & Lowden, 1997; Sussell et al,
1996), with minimal research focusing on why parents initially decide to become
involved in their children’s education (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997) and
little to no research focusing on why teachers value parent involvement or how
they decide to involve parents.
The purpose of this study was to identify key factors that influence
teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement in education. This study was
designed to determine the effects of teacher efficacy, years of teaching
experience, and preservice teacher training on teachers’ perceptions of
parent/teacher roles in parent involvement while controlling for grade and
schools’ socioeconomic status. Findings from this study suggest the importance
of teacher efficacy for positive perceptions about parent involvement, effects of
68

teacher education and preparation, means through which teachers involve
parents, and preferred means through which teachers interact with parents.
69
Importance of Teacher Efficacy
Results suggest that teacher efficacy is one factor that predicts teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement. More specifically, teachers with a higher
sense of efficacy have more positive perceptions of parent involvement than
those with a lower sense of efficacy. In addition, post hoc analyses revealed that
teacher efficacy is positively correlated with preservice teacher training in parent
involvement.
Teacher efficacy is not concerned with the skills one has, but with the
perceptions of what one can do with those skills. Weasmer and Woods (1998)
found a connection between teaching efficacy and teachers’ “motivation, thought
processes, emotions, and willingness to expend energy” (p. 245). Therefore,
findings from this study suggest that teachers with a higher sense of teacher
efficacy may be more motivated and willing to involve parents than teachers with
a lower sense of teacher efficacy.
One would expect teacher efficacy to be a predictor of teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement because it is a reflection of their perceptions of
themselves as teachers. Teachers who feel they possess the skills to be
effective teachers are more likely to have positive perceptions about involving
parents than teachers who feel they do not have the skills to be effective
teachers. Further, teachers with higher levels of teacher efficacy are more likely
to expect that all students can learn and that they are responsible for that

learning than teachers with lower levels of teacher efficacy (Ashton & Webb,
1983; Dembo & Gibson 1985; Kronberg, 1998)
70
Kronberg (1999) suggests that there are “strong correlations between
teacher efficacy and classroom practices” (p. 7). Ashton and Webb (1983)
examined teachers’ sense of efficacy and the extent to which teachers believe
they can influence student learning and found that teachers with high efficacy
attitudes tended to maintain high academic standards, concentrated on academic
instruction, monitored students’ on-task behavior, and developed a warm
supportive classroom environment. Results from this study suggest that
teachers with a higher sense of efficacy also tend to have more positive
perceptions about parent involvement in education than teachers with a lower
sense of efficacy.
The relationship may not be a straight forward one, however. The positive
correlation found between teacher training and efficacy suggests that preservice
training may operate as a mediating variable. Therefore, teachers who receive
preservice teacher training in parent involvement feel more efficacious, which in
turn leads to positive perceptions about parent involvement.
Implications for Teacher Education and Preparation
Preservice teacher training and years of experience do not appear to be
predictors of teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement. In fact, a negative
relationship between the two variables was found. This suggests that new
teachers are more likely to have received preservice teacher training than more
experienced teachers. Results from this study suggest that over half of the

71
participating teachers received no preservice training in parent involvement, one-
fifth received only one class period, and one-fifth received part of a course.
These results corroborate with Chavkin and Williams’ (1988) research suggesting
that very little, if any, preservice teacher training is occurring at the
undergraduate level. However, it is important to keep in mind that the mean
years of teaching experience for this study was 12 years, indicating that much of
the sample received their preservice education around the time of Chavkin and
Williams’ study. The negative relationship between years of experience and
training also corroborates with Shores’ (1999) research, suggesting that teacher
educators are beginning to incorporate parent and family involvement into their
currículums. Therefore, results from this study appear to reflect the current trend
of teacher educators incorporating parent/family involvement into the curriculum.
It is important to note that due to the lack of variability within this
independent variable (preservice teacher training), the data were reduced to
categorical variables of “no training” or “some training" for the purpose of the
regression. This is an important finding in and of itself, demonstrating that, at
least at the time the teachers in this sample were trained, over half of the teacher
training programs did not incorporate information on parent involvement into their
curriculum.
Interestingly, some teachers may perceive their competence to work with
parents as operating independently of formalized training. Teachers in this
sample were inconsistent in their reporting: sixty percent of the sample stated
that they received no training in parent involvement, yet only 56% stated that

72
their preservice teacher training did not prepare them at all for involving parents.
Therefore, although a few teachers reported they did not receive specific training
in parent involvement, they still believe their preservice training prepared them
somewhat for involving families.
This study also examined the amount of inservice training hours teachers
received in parent involvement. Results suggest that current practicing teachers
receive minimal inservice teacher training in parent involvement. Research
suggests that involving parents is very difficult (Becker & Epstein, 1982; Hornby,
2000), yet, for this sample, it seems that inservice training is not being utilized as
a means of providing current practicing teachers with the skills necessary to
successfully involve them.
Means Through Which Teachers Involve Parents
Participants in this study report that the most common ways in which
teachers involve parents of children in their classes include sending notes home
to discuss student progress, sending newsletters home, inviting parents to
chaperone field trips, sending home suggestions for educational games, and
reminding parents of important school meetings. Over one-third of the sample
reported never or seldomly talking with parents about parenting strategies,
inviting parents to talk about their job or area of expertise, or providing parents
with specific strategies to help children master academic skills. Better
preparation may have enabled teachers to involve more parents and to involve
them in different capacities.

73
Means Through Which Teachers Interact with Parents
This study also examined strategies that teachers use to communicate
with parents. Sending home newsletters has been deemed an effective means
of involving parents by keeping them abreast of classroom news, events and
activities (Epstein, 1987b). Results suggest that the majority of teachers send
newsletters home. The frequency of these newsletters varies with the most
popular being monthly. While more frequent contact would be ideal, it appears
that most teachers engage in this type of parent involvement and consider it to
be a priority.
Participants in this study report that the most popular methods parents use
to contact teachers are by notes to school or by phone. Many teachers reported
that parents also get in touch with them during pick up/drop off and some via
email. Email appears to be the least likely way parents get in touch with
teachers.
Limitations of the Current Study
The impact and utility of research findings may be negatively impacted
when there are too many threats to validity. The current study may have been
limited due to threats to external validity. External validity refers to the extent to
which the results of a research study can be generalized to individuals and
situations beyond those involved in the study (Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996).
First, data were only collected from one county in Maryland. Therefore,
generalizations from this study may be applicable to other mid-Atlantic suburban
counties. These findings may have limited generalizability to rural or inner city

74
populations or other regions of the United States. Only teachers from schools in
which principal permission could be obtained were recruited to participate;
although it cannot be determined by this study, there may be systematic
differences between schools whose principals did and did not choose to
participate. Research packets were distributed to every teacher and it was their
decision to participate or not.
The lack of variability in terms of gender and ethnicity may limit external
validitiy. It was expected that the sample would contain more females than
males; however, the magnitude of the discrepancy was not expected.
Elementary education is a predominately female occupation, and this limitation
may not necessarily reflect a weakness of this study, but rather reflect the
demographics of the profession in general. In terms of ethnic representation, the
researcher had hoped for more equal representation in the differing ethnic
groups. Because of the way subjects were recruited, this probably reflects the
demographics of the population from which the sample was drawn.
Another limitation in this study was the lack of variability within
socioeconomic status. Almost 80% of the teachers reported perceiving their
schools’ socioeconomic status to be low, low/middle or middle, and yet, only
17.6% of the participating schools were Title 1 schools. This is an interesting
finding in itself because, except for the 14 Title I schools, Anne Arundel County is
a relatively affluent area. Therefore, in this study, teachers perceived their
schools’ socioeconomic status to be lower than it actually is compared to state
and national standards. Results from this study suggest that teachers who teach

75
at lower socioeconomic schools have more positive perceptions of parent
involvement than those at higher socioeconomic status schools. The lack of
variability within this variable and teachers’ misperceptions may have led to the
negative relationship between schools’ socioeconomic status and teachers’
perception of parent involvement.
A final limitation to this study was the lack of variability within preservice
teacher training. Due to this lack of variability, the data were reduced to
categorized variables of “no training” and “some training.” This lack of variability
indicated that, at least at the time the teachers were trained, they received little or
no training in parent involvement.
Conclusions
Results suggest that teacher efficacy is one factor that predicts teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement in education. More specifically, teachers with
a higher sense of efficacy have more positive perceptions of parent involvement
than teachers with a lower sense of efficacy. Years of teaching experience and
preservice teacher training were not found to be predictors of teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement. However, a positive relationship was found
between teacher efficacy and preservice teacher training, suggesting a further
link between preservice teacher training in parent involvement and attitudes
towards involving parents. More specifically, teachers who receive preservice
teacher training in parent involvement are more likely to have a higher sense of
efficacy, thus impacting their perceptions of parent involvement.

76
Results also suggest that there is a negative relationship between years of
teaching experience and preservice teacher training. This finding suggests that
new teachers are receiving preservice teacher training in parent/family
involvement while more experience teachers did not receive preservice teacher
training. In addition, few teachers are receiving inservice training about involving
parents. This has serious implications for undergraduate and graduate teacher
training programs. It may be unfair to expect all teachers to involve parents in
their children’s education when they may not have received formalized training.
Recent research suggests that new teachers are receiving training in
parent/family involvement. Therefore, closer examination of inservice training
may be helpful in providing all currently practicing teachers with training in parent
involvement.
Findings from this study suggest that the majority of early elementary
teachers send newsletters home to their students’ parents. Not only do the
majority of teachers send newsletters home, it appears that weekly or monthly
newsletters are most prevalent. This finding indicates that even though many
teachers report not receiving training in parent involvement, many are already
engaging in some of these behaviors.
Teachers also appear to be accessible to parents via several modalities.
It appears that the most common means for parents to contact teachers are by
phone, notes, and/or pick up/drop off. This indicates that the most current
teachers are accessible to parents in several ways.

77
Directions for Future Research
Research in this area has implications for a broad variety of topics.
Researchers are just beginning to examine teachers’ perceptions of parent
involvement. Understanding teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement and the
factors that make them more likely to involve parents has serious implications for
teacher training and the administrative climate and expectations for involving
families. It is important to determine what factors influence teachers’ perceptions
of parent involvement. Until these factors are better ascertained it may be
unrealistic to expect all teachers to involve parents, especially if they do not
possess the qualities necessary to involve parents. Similar research may help
teachers/principals learn what teacher/school characteristics are necessary for
teachers to have positive perceptions of parent involvement.
For future studies on this topic to be successful and contribute to the
existing literature, several areas within this field need further exploration. First,
researchers may want to consider examining measures of teacher effectiveness
other than efficacy. More specifically, examining principal and parent
perceptions of teacher effectiveness. Second, a study addressing the recency of
training in relation to the amount of preservice teacher training. This study would
help further ascertain the quantity and quality of current preservice teacher
training in parent/family involvement. Third, a study with more variability with
respect to schools’ socioeconomic status would be advantageous for examining
the relationship between schools’ socioeconomic status and teachers’
perceptions of parent involvement.

APPENDIX A
PRINCIPAL INVITATION LETTER
Dear Elementary School Principal:
My name is Meghan Nicolini and I am a doctoral candidate in school
psychology at the University of Florida working under the supervision of Dr. Tina
Smith-Bonahue. As part of my graduate research, I would like to invite your
kindergarten through third grade teachers to participate in a research study
examining teachers’ perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent involvement.
Participating teachers will be asked to complete three questionnaires:
Parent Involvement Rating Scale, Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES), and Teacher
Information Survey. The three questionnaires should take approximately a total
of 15-20 minutes to complete. First, they will be asked to complete the Parent
Involvement Rating Scale, which consists of 21 items assessing teachers’
attitudes about teacher/parent roles in parent involvement. Participants will be
asked to circle the number that best describes how important they believe each
item is using a five-point Likert scale ranging from not at all important (1) to
extremely important (5). Second, they will be asked to complete the TES
consisting of 16 items. Teachers will be asked to indicate on a scale of 1
(strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree) the degree to which they agree or
disagree with 16 separate items. Finally, they will be asked to complete a
questionnaire that will provide me with information about their background (i.e.,
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79
education level, years of teaching experience) and the teaching environment
(i.e., grade taught, students’ socioeconomic status). In addition, the measure
consists of three questions that ask about the teacher’s previous exposure and/or
training in parent involvement and eight questions about teachers’ behaviors
pertaining to parent involvement.
I am inviting each school in the district to participate. Men and women will
be selected to participate in this study based on their status as kindergarten
through third grade elementary school teachers. There is no risk to your staff
members. They are free to withdraw from the study at anytime without
consequence. Their names will not be revealed to anyone, with the exception of
my advisor and I, or appear in any written work.
If you have any questions about this study, please do not hesitate to
contact me at (352) 256-3641 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Smith, at (352) 392-
0723. Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant may be
directed to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville,
FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and support.
Sincerely,
Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.
Please read the above description, sign below, and return the bottom
portion only.

80
I, , have read the procedures described above
and voluntarily give my consent for my school to participate in Meghan Nicolini’s
study. I acknowledge that I have received a copy of the above description.
Principal Signature Date
I am the principal of Elementary School and
have kindergarten through third grade teachers in my school.

APPENDIX B
RESEARCH STUDY CONSENT FORM
Dear Teacher:
My name is Meghan Nicolini and I am a doctoral candidate in school
psychology at the University of Florida working under the supervision of Dr. Tina
Smith-Bonahue. As part of my graduate research, I would like to invite you to
participate in a research study examining teachers’ perceptions of parent
involvement.
You will be asked to complete three questionnaires: Parent Involvement
Rating Scale, Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES), and Teacher Information Survey.
The three questionnaires should take approximately a total of 15-20 minutes to
complete. First, you will be asked to complete the Parent Involvement Rating
Scale, which consists of 21 items assessing teachers’ attitudes about
teacher/parent roles in parent involvement. You will be asked to circle the
number that best describes how important they believe each item is using a five-
point Likert scale ranging from not at all important (1) to extremely important (5).
Second, you will be asked to complete the TES consisting of 16 items. You will
be asked to indicate on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree) the
degree to which they agree or disagree with 16 separate items. Finally, you will
be asked to complete a questionnaire that will provide me with information about
your background (i.e., education level, years of teaching experience) and the
81

82
teaching environment (i.e., grade taught, students’ socioeconomic status). In
addition, the measure consists of three questions that ask about your previous
exposure and/or training in parent involvement and eight questions about
teachers’ behaviors pertaining to parent involvement.
You have been asked to participate in this study based on your status as a
kindergarten through third grade elementary school teacher. There is no risk to
you, and your refusal to give consent will not in any way affect your status at
school. You are free to with draw from the study at anytime without
consequence. Each participating teacher will be assigned a confidential number.
Your name will not be revealed to anyone, with the exception of my advisor and I,
or appear in any written work.
Please complete the attached signature page, indicating your consent to
participate in my study and return it to me. If you have any questions about this
study, please do not hesitate to contact me at (352) 256-3641 or my faculty
supervisor, Dr. Smith, at (352) 392-0723. Questions or concerns about your
rights as a research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of
Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.
Sincerely,
Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.
Please read the above description, sign below, and return the bottom
portion only.

83
I, , have read the procedures described above
and voluntarily give my consent to participate in Meghan Nicolini’s study. I
acknowledge that I have received a copy of the above description.
Teacher Signature
Date

APPENDIX C
PARENT INVOLVEMENT RATING SCALE
For the next 13 questions, please circle the number that best describes
how important you believe each item is.
1 2 3 4 5
Not at all Somewhat Extremely
important important important
1. Students arrive with the supplies (i.e., pencils and paper)
necessary to complete their schoolwork.
2. Parents ensure their children’s homework is completed
each night.
3. Teachers invite parents to class to talk about their jobs or
areas of expertise.
4. Students are well rested when they arrive at school.
5. Teachers discuss parenting strategies (e.g., development,
discipline) with parents.
6. Parents send children to school appropriately dressed for
weather activities, etc.
7. Teachers remind parents of important school meetings.
9. Teachers invite parents to chaperone on class field trips.
10. Parents attend parent advisory committee meetings.
11. Parents attend parent-teacher conferences.
12. Parents volunteer to come to school activities.
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
8.Parents talk with their children about what they did that day 1 2 3 4 5
in school.
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
84

85
13. Teachers send notes (other than report cards) home
discussing students’ progress.
14. Teachers send home suggestions for educational games
or activities.
15. Parents to be actively involved in PTA/PTO meetings.
16. Parents volunteer to chaperone field trips.
17. Students come to school clean and well-groomed.
18. Parents send notes to school discussing their children’s
progress.
19. Teachers send newsletters home to parents.
20. Teachers provide parents with specific strategies to help
children master academic skills.
21.Parents promptly return phone calls teachers make to
students’ home.
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5

APPENDIX D
FOCUS GROUP CONSENT FORM
Dear Teacher:
My name is Meghan Nicolini and I am a doctoral candidate in school
psychology at the University of Florida working under the supervision of Dr. Tina
Smith-Bonahue. As part of my graduate research, I would like to invite you to
participate in the preliminary portion of a research study that is being conducted
examining teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement.
You will be asked to participate in a focus group to explore the
appropriateness of a measure to be used in the study. First you will be asked to
complete the Parent Involvement Rating Scale (PIRS), which consists of 21
items assessing teachers attitudes to parent/teacher roles in parent involvement.
Second, you will be asked to participate in a focus group meeting, during which
we will discuss the survey. Completing the survey should take approximately 5-
10 minutes. The focus group will take approximately 20-30 minutes.
You have been selected to participate in this study based on your status
as an elementary school teacher. There is no risk to you, and your refusal to
give consent will no in any way affect your status at school. You are free to
withdraw your participation from the study without consequence. Your name will
not be revealed to anyone, with the exception of my advisor and I, or appear in
any written work.
86

87
Please complete the attached signature page, indicating your consent to
participate in my study and return it to me. If you have any questions about this
study, please do not hesitate to contact me at (352) 256-3641 or my faculty
supervisor, Dr. Smith, at (352) 392-0723. Questions or concerns about your
rights as a research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of
Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.
Sincerely,
Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.
Please read the above description, sign below, and return the bottom
portion only.
I, , have read the procedures described above
and voluntarily give my consent to participate in Meghan Nicolini’s study. I
acknowledge that I have received a copy of the above description.
Teacher Signature
Date

APPENDIX E
RELIABILITY STUDY CONSENT FORM
Dear Teacher:
My name is Meghan Nicolini and I am a doctoral candidate in school
psychology at the University of Florida working under the supervision of Dr. Tina
Smith-Bonahue. As part of my graduate research, I would like to invite you to
participate in the preliminary portion of a research study that is being conducted
examining teachers’ perceptions of parent/teacher roles in parent involvement.
You will be asked to participate in a pilot study to provide preliminary data
on a measure to be used in my research. You will be asked to complete the
Parent Involvement Rating Scale. The scale consists of 21 items assessing
teachers’ attitudes about teacher/parent roles in parent involvement. You will be
asked to circle the number that best describes how important your believe each
item is using a five-point Likert scale ranging from not at all important (1) to
extremely important (5). Completing the rating scale should take approximately
5-10 minutes.
You have been selected to participate in this study based on your status
as an elementary school teacher. There is no risk to you, and your refusal to
give consent will no in any way affect your status at your school. You are free to
withdraw your participation from the study without consequence. Your name will
88

89
not be revealed to anyone, with the exception of my advisor and I, or appear in
any written work.
Please complete the attached signature page, indicating your consent to
participate in my study and return it to me. If you have any questions about this
study, please do not hesitate to contact me at (352) 256-3641 or my faculty
supervisor, Dr. Smith, at (352) 392-0723. Questions or concerns about your
rights as a research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of
Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.
Sincerely,
Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.
Please read the above description, sign below, and return the bottom
portion only.
I, , have read the procedures described above
and voluntarily give my consent to participate in Meghan Nicolini’s study. I
acknowledge that I have received a copy of the above description.
Teacher Signature
Date

APPENDIX F
TEACHER EFFICACY SCALE
Gibson & Dembo (1984)
Please indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with each statement
below by circling the appropriate numeral underneath each statement.
1 2 3 4 5 6
Strongly Moderately Disagree Agree slightly Moderately Strongly
disagree disagree slightly more more than agree agree
than agree disagree
1.When a student does better than usual, many times it is 1 2 3 4 5 6
because I exerted a little extra effort.
2. The hours in my class have little influence on students 1 2 3 4 5 6
compared to the influence of the home environment.
3. The amount that a student can learn is primarily related 1 2 3 4 5 6
to family background.
4. If students aren’t disciplined at home, they aren’t likely 1 2 3 4 5 6
to accept any discipline.
5. When a student is having difficulty with an assignment, I 1 2 3 4 5 6
am usually able to adjust it to his/her level.
6. When a student gets a better grade than he usually 1 2 3 4 5 6
gets, it is usually because I found better ways of teaching
that student.
7.When I really try, I can get through to most difficult 1 2 3 4 5 6
students.
8. A teacher is very limited in what he/she can achieve 1 2 3 4 5 6
because a student’s home environment is a large influence
on his/her achievements.
9. When the grades of my students improve, it is usually 1 2 3 4 5 6
because I found more effective teaching approaches.
90

91
10. If a student masters a new concept quickly, this might 1 2 3 4 5 6
be because I knew the necessary steps in teaching that
concept.
11. If parents would do more with their children, I could do 1 2 3 4 5 6
more.
12. If a student did not remember information I gave in a 1 2 3 4 5 6
previous lesson, I would know how to increase his/her
retention in the next lesson.
13. If a student in my class becomes disruptive and noisy, 1 2 3 4 5 6
I feel assured that I know some techniques to redirect him
quickly.
14. The influences of the student’s home experiences can 1 2 3 4 5 6
be overcome by good teaching.
15. If one of my students couldn’t do a class assignment, I 1 2 3 4 5 6
would be able to accurately assess whether the
assignment was at the correct level of difficulty.
2 3 4 5 6
16. Even a teacher with good teaching abilities may not
reach many students.
1

APPENDIX G
TEACHER INFORMATION SURVEY
1. What is your highest educational degree? (check one)
Associate’s Specialist
Bachelor’s Ph.D.
Master’s Ed.D. Major:
2. What is your gender? (check one)
Female
Male
3. What is your ethnicity? (check which applies)
African-American / Black / African Origin
Asian-American / Asian Origin / Pacific Islander
Latino-a / Hispanic
American Indian/Alaska Native / Aboriginal Canadian
European Origin / White
Bi-racial / Multi-racial
4. What is your age?
5. How many years of teaching experience do you have?
6. What grade are you currently teaching?
7. Generally speaking, how would you describe your students’ socioeconomic
backgrounds?
Low
Low/middle
Middle
Middle/High
High
8.During your teacher training, did you receive training on parent involvement?
(check one)
No training
One class period devoted to parent involvement
Part of a course devoted to parent involvement
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93
Entire course devoted to parent involvement
I do not remember
9. Please indicate the extent to which you believe your preservice teacher
education prepared you for involving families.
Not at all
Fair
Moderate
Thorough
Extensive
10. Have you received inservice training (including professional conferences) on
parent involvement?
0 hours
1-2 hours
3-5 hours
7-9 hours
10 or more hours
11. Do you have a regular newsletter that goes to parents? No Yes
If so, how often:
Daily
Weekly
Two times a month
Monthly
Once a semester
Once a year
12. How often do the following occur in your own classroom:
1
Never
2 3 4
Sometimes
5
Often
a. Discuss parenting strategies (e.g. discipline, 1 2 3 4 5
development) with parents.
b. Send notes (other than report cards) home discussing 1 2 3 4 5
students’ progress.
c. Send newsletters home to parents. 1 2 3 4 5
d. Invite parents to chaperone class field trips. 1 2 3 4 5
e. Invite parents to talk about their jobs or areas of
expertise.
1 2
3
4
5

94
f. Provide parents with specific strategies to help children 1 2 3 4 5
master academic skills.
g. Send home suggestions for educational games or 1 2 3 4 5
activities.
h. Remind parents of important school meetings. 1 2 3 4 5
If you would like to provide any additional information, please answer the
following:
13. Parents get in touch with me by (please check all that apply):
notes to school
pick up/drop off
email
phone

APPENDIX H
POSTCARD REMINDER
Dear Elementary School Teacher:
I just wanted to remind you about my study of teacher perception of parent
participation in schools. If you've already completed the questionnaires and
returned them to me in the self-addressed, stamped envelope, thank you very
much!
If you haven't completed the study, please consider taking the time to do
so. We all know how much children benefit when their parents are involved in
their education. This study will hopefully help educators understand the types of
involvement that help the most. If you have any questions about the study,
please don't hesitate to contact me at (352) 256-3641 or nicolini@ufl.edu.
Sincerely,
Meghan Nicolini, M.A.E.
95

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
I was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, and attended school there
until I graduated in 1992. I began taking gymnastics classes when I was ten
years old, and at age seventeen was offered a full athletic scholarship for
gymnastics to the University of Nebraska. I began my undergraduate studies
and four-year career as a student athlete in the fall of 1992. Being a student-
athlete taught me the value of perseverance, endurance, and tenacity. For it is
these qualities that have helped me endure and be successful in my graduate
career.
While attending classes at the University of Nebraska, my interest in
psychology and children grew. It was then that I decided to enter the field of
school psychology. I began my graduate training at the University of Florida in the
fall of 1997 to pursue a degree in school psychology. I entered the program as a
master’s/specialist’s student, but transferred into the doctoral program after a year
and a half. I will graduate in August 2003 with a doctorate in school psychology.
Upon graduation, I plan to work towards hours for licensure in community-based
setting. Eventually, I hope to be a licensed child psychologist and to open my own
private practice.
101

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope
and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Tina Smith-Bonahue, Chair
Associate Professor of Educational
Psychology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope
and quality, as a dissertation for the de_cjree of Doctor of Philosophy.
David Miller
Professor of Educational Psychology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope
and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
a- ¡/JojUa
Nancy Wararon
Associate Professor of Educational
Psychology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope
and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of poctor pf Philosophy.
Associate Pri
Education
ssor of Special

This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of
Education and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of
the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
August 2003
Dean, Graduate School

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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA