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A study evaluating the personal biases held by educators in the context of parental involvement the (T.I.P.) project returned interesting results regarding intervention and assessment strategies designed to draw parents into the class room while maintaining the educator's sense of control and competence. It has been observed that while educator self-concept may differ, the successful involvement of parents in learning objectives results in increased assessment of educator competence by the parents (Hoover- Dempsey, Walker, & Jones, 2007). Other potential obstacles to the successful nesting of learning contexts are the evaluations of the relative value of the parent's potential contribution. If the educator perceives the parent's contribution poorly as a result of educational, economic, or even social background, then they are less likely to implement effective inclusion strategies (Hoover- Dempsey, Walker, & Jones, 2007).
Ultimately the target educational outcome of this study is the successful completion of a high school degree, with the intention of moving onto further education, be it vocational or collegiate. These outcomes though cannot be achieved without marked success in both grades as well as standardized test scores. Coordinated efforts between parents and teachers in the context of both of these assessment categories are instrumental in assuring the success of children. Equally acceptable educational outcomes would be early graduation as well as the decision to pursue a G.E.D. As opposed to traditional education routes. While the achievement of a G.E.D. is not ideal, it is an accepted substitute for a high school diploma and for the purposes of this study is equivalent if only roughly of having achieved their educational objective.
The existing body of research indicates that the most successful estimation of educational outcomes includes standardized test scores, grades, and self report measures completed by both parents and teachers. The use of these specific data sets allows the researcher to not only chart the empirical progress of the student throughout their education but also to gather useful information regarding the self-perceived success of both parents and teachers relative to implemented techniques and theories. Education and the ultimate attainment of educational objectives require that specific participants be evaluated at several key stages throughout their life. Though it is difficult to maintain a large number of participants in a study which will span several years, it is essential that a large ethnically, and socioeconomically representative sample be studied in order to be able to successfully extrapolate their results to the population at large.
The most effective deign for a study of this nature would be a non- experimental longitudinal study utilizing stratified sampling. Ideally the researcher would utilize a series of existing self report measures with established reliability and validity to the context of the subject. However, such measures do not currently exist which would cover the data necessary for the purposes of this study. The measures sent to families, teachers, and student participants will be designed by the researchers specifically for the purposes of this study.
Students from both public and private elementary, middle and high schools should be chosen. As a pilot study, it would perhaps be useful to implement this study on a smaller scale (within a single school district) to determine the probative value of its results. A study such as this would necessarily entail a great deal of time as well as money so before implementing the design nationwide working within a single school district will be an effective measure of success. For the purposes of this paper, the study will be evaluated and described in terms of the proposed pilot study.
Upon selection which will be randomized, the family will be asked to come in with their child to an assembly either after school hours or on a weekend. They will be informed of the ultimate parameters and goals of the study as well as the role we, the researchers, are asking them to agree to. Implicit in their consent will be the honest completion of self-assessment forms as well as the releasing of their child's academic records to us for analysis. It will be made clear, that no direct interaction will be had with the children participants by researchers, and that their information at the conclusion of the study will only be included in the demographic and analytic assessment of the study methods. No individually identifying information will be made available to the public prior to or after the publication of results. Those families who agree to participate in the experiment will be made aware that there is no financial or material award for participation, and that they are free to withdraw from the study at any time. They will also be presented with a brief overview of current research as well as the hypothesis of the current study. Those families will then be instructed on the protocols of the actual data collection.
Five self-assessment surveys will arrive at the homes of participating families at the end of each marking period. These surveys will include measures assessing their self determined efficacy and level of involvement on five factors; homework, educational activities, classroom participation, communication with teachers, and participation in school initiated conferences (parent teacher nights, meetings). There will also be a self-assessment sent once per year which updates researcher's demographic information. This additional annual survey will assess the socioeconomic, employment, and marital status of the family as well as making note of any siblings conceived during the study. Though this collection of demographic data is fairly invasive, it is necessary to assess any relevant correlations between external pressures (finances etc.) and parental involvement, in order to determine empirically the statistical significance of such interaction as observed in the context of the child's academic performance. Family participation in the study ends when their child participant has graduated or left high school. The final assessment will include the student's next step educationally as well as an assessment of the degree if involvement their parents displayed throughout their education as well as their self-assessed importance of that involvement in achieving academic goals.
For each of these grades data must be collected from the teachers who actively work with the child participants. At the end of every marking period they too will receive a series of measures in the mail assessing their subjective evaluation of parental participation with their students. They will also be sent the same demographic update survey as the families in order to determine whether or not their assessment of student's parents is linked to external events. The participation of individual teachers will end when there are no longer any study participants enrolled in their classes. Though this does necessitate that certain teachers be in the study longer, it is essential that continuous data be collected for each participant.
The school will release scores of standardized exams as well as report card results at the end of every marking period. It is important that this data all be collected simultaneously because it is the specific interactions between independent variables such as socioeconomic status and number of classroom events parents participated in and the dependent variable, academic performance, which are relevant to the purposes of this study. By gathering subjective data immediately before the collection of objective data, indeed before the families have seen the grades, researchers will have less biased responses than if the data were collected at the end of the year.
Though it may seem counterintuitive to begin the study using information from every grade as opposed to following a single class throughout their educational career it is essential to collect as much data as possible not only about the changes in the participants lives but also in the overall education culture within the sample population. Observing trends in grades, or parental involvement may be probative in the overall assessment of data. If during the study, the school district experiences large budget cuts that affect older students' more than younger students the effect of this environmental stressor on parents, teachers, and grades might be missed if the class being assessed was too young to experience the effects of the cuts. Thusly, it is essential that this study be cross sectional as well as longitudinal.
The ideal sample for this survey will be a representative stratified sample of elementary school students, middle school students, and high school students within a school district, every grade from first grade through twelfth grade must be included in the sample. A random sample of students should be chosen from each academic "track" within a school to ensure that children representing above average, below average, and median grades are present within the data collected. This systematic sampling would be carried out by researchers selecting every fifth student on the list of each academic "track" provided by school administrators. This should occur at both public schools as well as private schools. The extremely high number of resulting candidates should compensate for families wishing not to participate, as well as providing a large data set for analysis.
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