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ERIC Number: ED502499
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Aug
Pages: 50
Abstractor: ERIC
Examining American Indian Perspectives in the Central Region on Parent Involvement in Children's Education. Issues & Answers. REL 2008-No. 059
Mackety, Dawn M.; Linder-VanBerschot, Jennifer A.
Regional Educational Laboratory Central
Parent involvement is recognized as an important factor in encouraging student achievement. However, a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics found that in public schools with 25 percent or more American Indian students, teachers identified lack of parent involvement as one of their schools' three most serious problems. At an August 2007 meeting, state-level policymakers identified as a high priority the need for research-based assistance on American Indian education and ways to close the achievement gaps among ethnic groups. To begin to address the regional need to close the achievement gap for American Indian students and specifically to effectively engage American Indian parents in their children's education, parent perceptions about involvement are needed. The purposes of this study were to examine how Central Region American Indian parents perceive parent involvement and to understand what encourages or discourages their involvement. Two Central Region communities were selected for data collection, based on expressed interest of the state education administrator and the support of the state Office of Indian Affairs. Additional criteria for selection included high populations of American Indian students and permission from school district administrators. Forty-seven self-selected American Indian parents, reflecting seven tribes from nine reservations, participated in five focus groups. An interview protocol guided focus group discussions around four main research questions: (1) What do American Indian parents perceive as parent involvement in their children's education? (2) Why do American Indian parents get involved? (3) What do parents perceive as barriers to involvement? and (4) Which school strategies do parents perceive encourage involvement? Many aspects of American Indian parent involvement were largely consistent with the literature on parent involvement in the general population as well as in other minority cultures. This study found that parent involvement was additionally influenced by parent-school differences in values and communication styles, perceptions of cultural competency in the staff and curricula, and a history of American Indian education policy of coercive assimilation that continues to influence parents. The challenges of increasing American Indian parent involvement reside in the overlay, and sometimes clashing, of cultures in the public schools. The study provides an initial step toward understanding American Indian parent involvement: it is pointed out that findings reflect the perspectives of American Indian parents; not those of school personnel. The report is intended for researchers, educators, and parents of American Indian students, as a basis for further research and informed dialogue to increase American Indian parent involvement and student academic achievement. Four appendixes include: (1) Research Methods; (2) Literature on American Indian Parent Involvement; (3) Focus Group Protocol; and (4) Focus Group Summaries. (Contains 5 endnotes and 1 table.) [This report was prepared for the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education by Regional Education Laboratory Central administered by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.]
Regional Educational Laboratory Central at McREL. 4601 DTC Boulevard Suite 500, Denver, CO 80237-2596. Tel: 303-337-0990; Fax: 303-337-3005; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Regional Educational Laboratory Central (ED)
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A