Implications of parents' and educators' needs in creating a parental involvement program

Janet LaMarque Shackelford

Abstract

Parental involvement can be helpful in increasing student achievement in school. This study examined the needs of parents and staff members in a rural elementary school in south Mississippi. Data collected will be used to design a more effective parental involvement program for the school based on the particular needs of the families and the teachers within the school district. A parental involvement survey created by National PTA was administered to 465 parents and 37 staff members of an upper elementary school. The results from the questionnaire indicated that both families and school staff strongly support the concept of parental involvement at many levels. Both parties believe that parental involvement should be more than baking cupcakes and sponsoring activities. The following recommendations based on the findings of the study were made: (1) Parents, teachers and school administrators should be included in focus groups to cooperatively develop and implement a parental involvement program for the school based on the findings of this study regarding the needs of both families and educators. (2) Inservice training should be developed and implemented for team building and for improved communication between families and school staff. Based on the findings of the study, research on the various types of parental involvement should also be conducted to create more productive activities which should help families feel more a part of the school's plan to educate its children and to help them reach their potential. (3) A wide variety of parental involvement activities should be planned throughout the year to reach as many parents as possible. Offering programs at different times of the day or evening, moving locations of programs and providing a wide variety of activities should help more parents feel they have an integral part in their children's education. (4) A specific process should be set up to evaluate the success of the parental involvement program. Included in the evaluation should be analysis of additional parent questionnaires about the effectiveness of each activity, observations and student achievement for the current year.