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Why is Parental Involvement an Ongoing Critical Issue in Special Education?


Why is Parental Involvement an Ongoing Critical Issue in Special Education? GVSU 670 Critical Issues in Special Education Elaine Martin and Linda Kevorkian – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Why is Parental Involvement an Ongoing Critical Issue in Special Education?

Why is Parental Involvement an Ongoing Critical
Issue in Special Education?
  • GVSU 670 Critical Issues in Special Education
  • Elaine Martin and Linda Kevorkian
  • 6/05/09

Why should we be worrying about parental
It is mandatory
  • Pre-referral RTI, functional behavior analysis
  • Referral Initial consent for assessment and
  • Program planning and implementation IEP, IFSP,
    positive behavior support plans
  • Monitoring and compliance progress reporting,
    manifest determination
  • Parental rights and due process procedures
  • Parent advisory committees
  • FERPA and student records
  • parent counseling and education re childs
    disability and parent rights
  • IDEA
  • Michigan Administrative Rules for Special
  • FAPE
  • No Child Left Behind
  • School Improvement Plans and AYP

Why should parent involvement in the special
education process be mandated?
  • because research shows that parent involvement
    has a direct impact on
  • student academic success
  • high school drop out rates
  • quality of life after school
  • San Diego County Office of Education (1997) and
    the National Alliance for Secondary Education and
    Transition (2005)

Who are our parents?
17.9 of our population does not speak English US
12.8 Black
4.4 Asian
15.1 Hispanic
67.7 White
Non-traditional families
  • Single parent mother
  • Single parent father
  • Two working parents
  • Grandparents raising their grandchildren
  • Divorced
  • Blended families
  • Immigrants

According to Families and Living Arrangements
2006, there were 12.9 million one-parent families
in 2006 10.4 million single-mother families and
2.5 million single-father families
Michigan Dept. of Education Demographic Report
for Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • School districts must become more pro-active
    about planning for parent involvement.

How do we start?
  • By asking the questions
  • How do our various families view and value
    education and parental involvement?
  • What barriers exist that impact parent
    involvement for our families and are these
    barriers different for different types of

More questions.
  • How and when are parents most likely to be
  • Do differing types of parental involvement have
    different results for students?
  • What motivates our parents to become involved in
    their childrens education?

  • Where do we focus our resources when attempting
    to increase parental involvement?

  • We focused our questions around parental
    involvement within two groups
  • Families with children in secondary education
  • Families from the Hispanic and Latino cultures

Research Question 1
  • How Important is Family Involvement in Middle
    School and High School Education?

What the research tells us(Epstein, 2001)
  • Schools play a key role in determining the levels
    of parent involvement.
  • The older a student is and the higher the
    concentration of low-income students in the
    school, the more important parent involvement is,
  • Parent involvement declines as students grow
  • Parent involvement declines as income level

How can we get middle school and high school
parents more involved?
  • Help families learn about school programs and
    student needs on a regular basis.
  • Involve families as volunteers
  • Demonstrate how families can be involved in the
    learning process at home.
  • Include parents as decision-makers in important
    matters at every level of decision-making.
  • Coordinate with business and agencies to provide
    resources and services for families.
    Epstein 2001

National Alliance for Secondary Education and
Transitions Family Involvement (2005)
  • Reviewed four standards for parental involvement
    at the secondary level and provided supporting
    research and discussion
  • Standard 4.1
  • School staff members demonstrate a strong
    commitment to family involvement and understand
    its critical role in supporting high achievement,
    access to postsecondary education, employment,
    and other successful adult outcomes.

The power of commitment
  • Family involvement and support is linked to
    decreased dropout rate, increased achievement
    rate on test, improved student behavior, higher
    grades and improved attitude towards school for
    student with or without disabilities.
  • (Henderson Berla, 1994 Henderson Mapp2002
    Hughes et. al., 1997 James Partee,2003 Keith
    et. al., 1998 Koher,1996.).

  • Standard 4.2
  • Communication among youth, families, and schools
    is flexible, reciprocal, meaningful, and

communicating with families
  • Outreach, communication and relationships with
    families are keys to effective programs
    (Henderson Mappp,2002 James Prate,, 2003
    Keith, et al, 19198, Mapp, 1997 Rutherford
    Billing, 1995 Sanders, et al. 1999Yap
  • (Parent involvement is) essential for students
    for culturally diverse backgrounds
  • There is a need to build trust and collaboration
    between schools and parents (Guy, Goldberg,
    McDonald, Flam, 1997).

  • Standard 4.3
  • School staff actively cultivate, encourage, and
    welcome youth and family involvement.

cultivating parental involvement
  • Develop a formal process for identifying the
    strengths and needs then connecting families and
    students to groups that offer support.
    (Kohler, 1993 Rutherford Billing, 1995)
  • Schedule meetings that accommodate the timing and
    transportation needs of families.
  • Offer family training on positive family-child
  • (James Partee, 2003 National PTA,
    1997 Simmons, Stevenson, Strand, 1993)
  • Train staff on how to work in a collaborative
    fashion with families and students
  • (Boethel,2003 Espinosa,1995
    Kessler-Sklar Baker, 2000 Krieger, 2002
    National PTA,1997)
  • Support community diversity. (Boethel, 2003
    Furney Salembier, 2000).
  • Provide parents with community resources.

  • Standard 4.4
  • Youth, families, and school staff are partners in
    the development of policies and decisions
    affecting youth and families

Strategies for effective partnering
  • Develop an accessible and understandable
    decision-making and problem-solving process for
    all parties involved (parents, school and
  • (National PTA, 1997)
  • Disseminate information about policies, goals,
    and reforms to families and students
  • (Kohler, 2000 Lopez 2002 National Center for
  • Dissemination of Disability Research, 1999)
  • Institute policies that respect diversity.
  • (Boethel, 2003 Harry 2002, Kalyanpur, Harry
    Skrtic, 2000 Lamorey, 2002)
  • Provide training on policy, reform and related
  • ( James Partee, 2003, National PTA 1997)
  • Include student and families on decisions,
    governance, and other program and school
  • ( Furney Salembier, 2000 James 7 Partee 2003
    National PTA Sanders et al , 1999)

Best Practice Schools and Families - Creating
Essential Connections for Learning
  • The definition for the family has changed. Family
    has been replaced with parent because of the
    significant adults in the lives of children, and
    the options beyond being volunteer, homework
    helper, and fundraiser.
  • The school environment influences the students
    academic achievement and school performance.
  • What a family does to support learning in the
    home has a greater impact on achievement than who
    the family is according to their financial
  • Out of school time is powerful, which includes
    community and friendships for school achievement.
  • Programs that are comprehensive and well-planned
    provide options for family involvement and allow
    schools to be responsive for family diversity.
    This is critical for continued success in middle
    and high school.
  • The more the home and school match in academic
    context and importance, the more of a
    contribution the family makes to the students
    success in school.

Best Practice Family Involvement in Middle and
High School Students Education
  • The schools, teachers, and parents can monitor
    the students growth and progress. This is a time
    in a young persons life when they are trying to
    gain independence from their parents while
    maintaining connections to them. It respects
    their autonomy while maintaining the relationship
    with their child.
  • Finally, parents need to set up a climate of high
    expectations in the home, school, and community
    for their children. This is more important than
    any other time in their life. They need to feel
    competent and encouraged to complete tasks and
    enroll in difficult coursework.
  • Parents can handle this hurdle by maintaining
    high expectations and raising their students
    self-confidence to help them internalize
    educational values.

Research Question 2
  • What do we know about parental involvement of
    Latino and Hispanic Families in their childrens

What a review of the research tells us.
  • Three critical factors which determine parent
  • Parents role construct (their beliefs about
    their need to be involved in the childs
  • parents sense of self-efficacy (belief that they
    have the knowledge and skills to be involved)
  • school invitations.

Research shows
  • cultural and socioeconomic factors strongly
    influenced perceptions (of Latinos and Hispanics)
    about parental involvement.

Do Educational Programs Increase Parents
Practices at Home? Factors Influencing Latino
Parent Involvement (Chrispeels Gonz, 2004)
  • These investigators studied the effects of a 9
    week parent education program on the involvement
    of 1,156 Latino parents in 20 California
    elementary and secondary schools.
  • The Parent Institute for Quality Education, a
    non-profit group, provided the education program.
  • The purpose of the course was to help Latino and
    other immigrant parents learn about the American
    educational system, how to interact with schools
    and teachers, and how to help their children at

Parents were surveyed before and after the 9
week course.
  • Assessed seven areas related to parent
  • home learning activities (e.g., reading to
  • parenting practices (e.g., praising child)
  • home-school connections (e.g., PTA meetings),
  • parents knowledge (e.g., knowing academic
  • sense of self-efficacy (e.g. able to help child
    be successful in school)
  • parent role construction (parents believe they
    have to be involved in childs education)
  • college expectations (e.g., expect child to go to

Results of the study
  • Parent education program affected parents role
    construct (their belief that they need to be
    involved in their childs education)
  • A significant difference in parent knowledge,
    beliefs, and practices was found after the 9 week
    program. Parents reported dramatic changes in
    their parenting behaviors such as using more
    praise and less physical punishment, establishing
    rules and limiting TV time.
  • Knowledge gained in the program is the strongest
    predictor of Latino parent involvement with both
    elementary and secondary-aged children. At the
    secondary level, parental participation in school
    activities affected parenting practices. The
    knowledge gained through the program directly
    influenced parents decisions to contact the

Additional findings
  • Parents knowledge about the school system and
    the importance of being involved are the easiest
    in which to effect change.
  • Role construct can be changed with knowledge.
  • Latino families will respond if the school
    provides information about how to help in a
    culturally sensitive way.
  • Parents need to understand that planning for
    college must begin in elementary and junior high
    school and this knowledge can help parents
    reconstruct their role and parenting practices.
  • Home-school connections are the most difficult to
    change and require more effort on the part of the
    school and teachers to increase invitations and
    opportunities for involvement.

Best practice article Involving Migrant Families
in Education (Martinez Velazquez, 2000)
  • Increasing parental involvement requires
    understanding migrant families' strengths, their
    family dynamics, the challenges their mobile
    lifestyle creates, and recognition of the
    positive contributions migrant parents make to
    their children's education.

Educators typically believe parent involvement is
  • 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 fulfilling any requests teachers
    make of parents (i.e., to play word games with
    their children at home)

Migrant families believe
  • education is about instruction in issues such as
    development of morals, values, respect for self
    and others, good manners, responsibility towards
    self and the community vs. teaching reading,
    writing, and academics

Barriers to parental involvement
  • lack of English
  • lack of educational skills (especially for
    children in higher grades)
  • long work hours and lack of time

You can help if you
  • Acknowledge parents for the way they support
    their child with emotional (vs. environmental and
    financial) resources
  • Sharing life stories that encourage being a good
  • Instilling a value for hard work
  • Emphasizing how difficult life can be without an

What else can you do
  • Use bilingual community liaisons to train parents
    and to help bridge language and cultural
    differences between home and school
  • Provide child care, transportation, evening and
    weekend activities, and refreshments.
  • Implement a curriculum that reflects the culture,
    values, interests, experiences, and concerns of
    the migrant family so parents can more easily
    relate to "homework" and be more inclined to help
    their child (also increasing their confidence and
  • Provide flexible instructional programming that
    allows students to drop out of school to work or
    take care of family responsibilities and return
    to pick up their academic work without penalties.

  • Develop opportunities for education and training
    at work sites, community centers, churches, and
    school sites for both students and families.
  • Provide access to on-line links to college and
    ESL courses via distance learning options at
    public computer centers
  • Partner with the agriculture industry to develop
    collaborative opportunities that allow parents to
    attend school activities during work hour and
    utilize parents' knowledge, skills, and talents.
  • Give migrant parents an opportunity at
    parent-teacher conferences to express ways they
    believe they can contribute to their childs

  • Coordinate social and health outreach efforts
    with local school community involvement
    activities, making them less threatening to
    migrant parents who are hard to reach.
  • Incorporate more bilingual and Spanish language
    books in schools and public libraries to promote
    family reading at home. Juevos verdes y hamon,
    Juan Ramon!
  • Transcribe oral family histories or experiences
    for inclusion in library collections, providing
    parents, grandparents, and other family members
    with links to school and community.
  • Reach out to parents and secondary school
    students by using bilingual community liaisons,
    secondary school advisors, advocates, and peer
    and cross-age tutors or mentors.

Think "family" rather than just "parent" when
planning involvement activities.
  • Develop parent programs that include workshops or
    retreats at colleges and universities in order to
    provide an early orientation to the postsecondary
    education process.
  • Conduct parent workshops that include such
    activities as "sharing secret talents" (e.g.,
    singing, craftsmanship, crocheting, etc.) that
    empower parents with the knowledge that they can
    benefit students and schools.
  • Promote higher aspirations among students and
    families through community based career education
    and parent/child work-study positions.

Ask an Expert - Welcoming Hispanic Children and
Families to Preschool (Cristina Sanchez-Lopez
January, 2006)
  • Its ok (and good) for parents to speak to their
    child in their native language at home. The
    stronger the childs first language, the greater
    likelihood of academic success.
  • Make certain that the books you choose to have
    and use (for classroom or to take home) do not
    depict a particular race of people in a
    stereotypical manner.
  • Parents may be hesitant to ask questions except
    about how their child is behaving. Remember that
    this doesnt mean that those parents do not care
    about their childrens education. They are the
    parents who are expected to care for, nourish,
    discipline, nurture, and love their children but
    you are the teacher. Be sure to acknowledge their
    contributions and how they will help their child
    in school.

Understand that children are not sent off to
school at such a young age in many countries.
  • Show respect for the families culture by ensuring
    that there non-stereotypical artifacts visible
    throughout your classroom.
  • At the beginning of the year, ask the parents
    their childs name, how to pronounce it
    correctly, and then practice the name in front of
    them until they smile and give you the OK. This
    starts the year off letting the parents know how
    much you care for their child and how much you
    respect them, their language, and their culture,
    and it puts them at ease
  • Give clear instructions on what things to work on
    at home in their language while you work on other
    things at school. They should be encouraged to
    share what sorts of things they see while you
    share your side.

Let parents know about our unspoken cultural
norms and help them function more comfortably in
U.S. society.
  • Help the children to connect to their parents,
    their language, and their culture. Learn some of
    their Spanish words.
  • Inform parents about what you are studying in
    class for each unit.
  • Encourage children to read to their parents and
    parents to read to their children.

  • Planning for parental involvement on a more
    personal and individualized level will support,
    encourage and motivate higher levels of
    participation by our diverse families and
    ultimately, have a greater impact on student
    success both in school and in post-school life.
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