Parental Involvement in an Appalachian Rural Community
Hutchins, James 1976-
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During this era of high-stakes achievement testing, schools have looked for help to increase student achievement. One resource that schools have begun to take advantage of in order to boost student success is parental involvement. While research shows that cognitive growth is controlled by what happens in school, schools have had little or no control over what happens to students during the time spent at home and in their community. In fact, students only spend about 8.85% of their lifetime inside the school (Edwards & Edwards, 2007). The purpose of this case study was to qualitatively research the involvement of parents in rural middle schools in Appalachia. Students in Appalachia have seen little change in cultural and economic conditions over the past several decades (Chenoweth & Galliher, 2004). Because of this, completing high school is in itself considered a feat, and some students do not give a college education a second thought. The limited amount of studies of students living in Appalachia (Chenoweth & Galliher) reflects the somewhat isolated environment that has existed here. The context for this study was a low-income, rural Appalachian school district with nearly 60% on free and reduced-price lunch. The median income for these communities was $22,153, and 17.45% of the households had only one parent. The participants in this study were representative of the population, as 57% of the sample was low-income and held jobs that were indicative of the communities in which they lived. Seven participants were purposively selected to be interviewed using a researcher-developed interview protocol. Questions were asked about the mother’s employment, parents’ educational levels, and time spent in parental involvement activities. Data from the seven face-to-face parent interviews were analyzed to provide a rich description of the perspectives, feelings, and ideas of the participants about their involvement in their child’s education. From the study, several themes emerged. As the children grew older, their parents became less involved, fathers were considerably less involved or even absent, the lack of time in their work schedules, and the exhaustion the parents felt from work were barriers to becoming involved.