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Lu Curtis

© 2002

Action Research:

Parent Involvement at the Middle School Level
Actively involving parents in a child's education is a key predictor of academic success. Teachers and parents both want students to have a positive school experience.

I chose to research parent involvement at the middle school level for three reasons: 1. parent involvement is a key to student's academic success, 2. it is a goal at the middle school where I teach and 3. parent involvement/communication is an area I would like to improve upon professionally.

How can I make the home-school connection stronger? How do I draw in the at-risk families? How do I help some parents overcome the trepidation they may feel about coming back to the school where they spent their youth? Lastly, how do I get parents to be as actively involved in their child's education as they are in their sports?

Brough, Judith Allen; Irvin, Judith (2001). Parental Involvement Supports Academic Improvement among Middle Schoolers, What Research Says. Middle School Journal, May, 2001.
"Parents seem to need more guidance from educators when their children reach the middle grades."

Hagan-Burke, Shanna; Martin, Emma J. (2002). Establishing a home-school connection: strengthening the partnership between families and schools. Preventing School Failure, Winter, 2002.
The authors lay out a seven-step plan to improve the communication and the partnership between home and school. Although they use a special education student in their example, the steps are applicable to all types of learners and their families.

Marchant, Gregory J; Paulson, Sharon E; Rothlisberg, Barbara A. (2001). Relations of Middle School Students’ Perceptions of Family and School Contexts with Academic Achievement. Psychology in the Schools, November, 2001.
An interesting article that looks at students' perceptions of parenting style and students' school achievement.

Vopat, James. The Parent Project, Stenhouse Publishers, York, Maine 1994.
At the time of publication James Vopat was the Director of the Milwaukee Writing Project. The workshop approach has many great ideas to increase parent involvement. My biggest stumbling block with the approach is that all participants get paid for their time, including parents
In my ten years of teaching I have learned that the kids that need the most help, are many times the ones with the least-involved parents. I need to find ways to answer the questions I asked earlier. One idea I have- is to have a student of the week program that focuses on the student and his or her family. I would ask for an adult member of the family to come in one time during their child’s assigned week for approximately one hour. They can choose ahead of time to what extent they would like to get involved. Do they want to come in and read aloud to the class during reading, or maybe they would prefer to come after school and help correct papers?

I would target the at-risk families first. My thinking is that by getting them involved early on, they will be more involved and invested as the year goes on. My dream is that by hooking the parents in sixth grade, they will continue to be more involved as their children finish middle school and goes on to high school. (Plus it's a natural continuation of the involvement they have had with the elementary schools.)

To study my plan’s effectiveness I wouldn’t need a control group. I have ten years of experience of what didn’t work! What I need to discover is if this simple idea of mine can work. It’s like room parents in the new millennium. My goal is that this program would open the lines of communication between home and school early and in a positive manner. It invites the parents into the classroom and enlists their help in being a more successful teacher and building student achievement.

Creative writing:

A Better Way

I lie glaring at the ceiling
Listening to their drunken song

How much longer can I endure this?
It's been going on for far too long

Forgiveness doesn't come easily
For a childhood stolen away

By parents unable to realize
The pain they caused each day

These memories invade my brain
Who invited them to stay?

A new world full of hugs and kisses
Help to show a better way

Two babies God has blessed me with
All the happiness I have found

I crawl sleepily into bed each night
And listen for every sound.