Involvement to engagement : community education practices in a suburban elementary school and an inner-city community school
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A growing body of research demonstrates the links between parental involvement and students' outcomes. Some benefits of this involvement include improved academic achievement, higher grades, increased attendance, and better social skills (Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Sui-Chu & Willms, 1996; Dryfoos & Knauer, 2004; Coalition for Community Schools, 2003). Despite these benefits, many educators report challenges in engaging parents and community members within the school. The purpose of the research was to explore the processes two school staffs used to facilitate community engagement by utilizing community education practices and, within each individual site, compare to any increase in community engagement at the school. Over the 2006-2007 school year, the researcher spent time connecting with staff members and parents at two schools – a suburban elementary school, and an inner-city community school. Through observation, interviews with administrators, focus groups with parents, and focus groups with staff members, the researcher obtained information regarding staff members’ growth in community engagement, development of community education practices, and the impact of those practices on community engagement in the school. Through analysis of the data, the researcher identified themes, conditions for community engagement, and promising community education practices. Data from observation, focus groups, and interviews demonstrated the importance of leadership, developing relationships with parents, creating a welcoming school environment, focusing staff development on community education, and creating opportunities for staff members and community members to come together, for community engagement to be successful. The research captured the importance of making beliefs and assumptions explicit, and identified how these beliefs can be helpful or harmful in engaging youth, families, and community members. The research study demonstrated that as staff members at Eagle Point School and Sunrise Community School increased their level of understanding of community education and created community education practices, they experienced greater community engagement in their respective schools.
DegreeMaster of Continuing Education (M.C.Ed.)
Copyright DateMarch 2008
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