School Leadership and Parent Engagement in Secondary Schools: An Exploratory Qualitative Case Study

Date
2021-06-18
Authors
Shaw, Kathryn
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Abstract
Secondary-level education institutions have seen trends in decreased parent and community involvement in the state of Florida. Title I schools, with 40% or more of the student population falling below the average family income level identified by the U.S. government, report barriers that may inhibit parents and community members from taking a vested interest in secondary school-age students. Literature reviewed addressed concerns with the lack of parent involvement, barriers to engagement in schools, and the idea of perception from varied points of view. The gap in research was the leadership perspectives in Title I high schools and the best practices leadership teams can implement to increase involvement and change perception. The exploratory case study investigated parent-school relationships and perception through a constructivist lens connecting theories of social capital, life-course, and goal orientation. Two southwest Florida secondary schools in the same district were purposefully selected for the study based on geographic convenience. Purposeful sampling indicated 35–40 potential participants in leadership positions at the Title I and non-Title I school combined. Thirty-six individuals consented to participate in the exploratory qualitative case study. Information was coded for themes and organized using MAXQDA to confirm. Researcher-created questionnaires, historical district data, and focus group discussions added to literature on perceptions of parent involvement in secondary schools and whether leadership perceptions, attitude, or practices change the level of activity within cohorts based on perception. Key findings included a need for a common definition of parent involvement among all stakeholders and support for initiatives that include parents, families, and the community. Keywords: perception, involvement, engagement, social capital, secondary schools
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