An Examination of Parent Engagement in Primarily Hispanic High School Campuses in a Large Urban School District
Landa, Luis Ricardo
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Background: Research shows parent engagement positively impacts student academic performance, motivation, behavior, and attendance. The impact has been of such significance that legislation, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (2015), has mandated parental engagement and tied campus funding to it. Unfortunately, legislation, funding, and awareness of the importance of engagement have not prevented the ‘secondary slump’ of parent engagement. Purpose: The purpose of this comparative case study was to fill a gap in the literature by focusing on parent engagement at predominantly Hispanic high schools. Guided by the Framework of Six Types of Involvement and the Ecologies of Parent Engagement Framework, this study aimed to understand what primarily Hispanic secondary campuses do to strengthen parent engagement, why and how parents engage with schools, and ways to strengthen their partnership. Methods: This study included two primarily Hispanic, Title I high schools identified by their district as “high parental engagement” campuses. Data were collected through informal observations, semi-structured focus groups and interviews, and document analysis. Interviews were transcribed, organized, and prepared for analysis to identify emergent themes. Results: Findings revealed that schools focus on educating families on high school expectations, academic and social impacts on student health, college and career readiness, and opportunities for parents’ personal growth. Resources provided to families included medical, employment, and recently, immigrant legal assistance. Parent engagement appeared motivated to hold students accountable for decision-making, while student aging and inherited independence deterred engagement. On-going communication, a welcoming environment, and staff member, such as a parent liaison, served to support engagement. Challenges included language barriers, demanding schedules, and negative impressions or experiences in school. Conclusion: The findings have implications for school and district policy, as well as for current and aspiring educational leaders who seek to serve and impact student achievement by improving parental engagement.