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Case Analysis

Fatima Mahmoud
ECE 3703
Antoinette Wiseman
20th September, 2018
Building Learning Communities 2

I am doing a case analysis on the article “The Influence of Parent and Community Involvement

on Local School Councils in Massachusetts”. This is for my course “Building Learning

Communities”. This article, written by Leslie B. Stein, focuses attention on the importance and

significance of community and family involvement and highlights on their credibility in fostering

and improving students’ achievements. Emphasis is primarily laid on The Massachusetts

Education Reform Act of 1993, which reinforces participatory governance in association with

local school council in the region.

This study aims to prove that the influence of local school councils on school improvement is

crucial for success as well as seeks to justify that the participation of parents, family and

community in the education of students is necessary. This study was conducted as a response to

decreasing educational success in the state of Massachusetts, where, it was noticed and found by

scholars that despite the emphasis on major education reforms that postulated family and

community involvement in schools, students in many schools were unable to meet targets due to

varied issues and loopholes in the education system as well as considerable gap between some

educational institutions and home. Through this study, the researcher has emphasized on primary

issues and suitable and preferable strategies and changes that should be incorporated in all

schools in Massachusetts to enable students attain success. The primary purpose of this study is

therefore to increase understanding and awareness on the credibility and significance of


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community and family involvement in school governance amongst people in the state of

Massachusetts (Stein, 2009).

The primary research questions focused upon in this study are as follows

1. What types of parent involvement are evident in each school community?

2. How do the activities of the school council meet the intent and specifics of the MERA?

3. What is the understanding of council members and other members of the school community

about the function and role of the school council in school improvement efforts?

4. What is the relationship between the school council and school policies and practices that

support parent and community involvement activities?

Apart from this, the researcher has also focused on multiple sub-questions in this study

A qualitative methodological approach was applied by researcher in this study to gain deeper

insight on impact of community and family involvement in school governance (Stein, 2009). The

research was undertaken in a natural setting and grounded theory was applied to gather accurate

and reliable data. The researcher also focused greater attention on grounded and salient

categories of meaning by intricately studying the participants in their natural setting. Three

elementary schools were chosen in different western Massachusetts communities and one school
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was chosen from an urban city, a suburb and small town. This helped researcher to gain

perspectives and opinions of schools in different segments of the state. Finally, however, only

three schools had responded back. A proposal abstract was given to all school principles to be

shared with other council members (Stein, 2009). Multiple data collection methods such as

observations, review of previous materials, semi-structured interviews and communication with

school community were used by the researcher to gather information for this study. Gathered

data was evaluated using analyst constructed categories and other systematic procedures.

Results and inferences gathered reveal that local culture imparts a powerful force on parent

involvement as well as on the function of every school council. On the other hand, federal and

state regulation has insignificant impact on understanding of major council responsibilities

(Stein, 2009). The researcher also found that culture in this case refers to general knowledge

shared between people in a definite locality, patterns of belief and artifacts, which significantly

reflect the district at large and school community. The influence and function of local school

council bodies on improvement of the school and impact of community and parent involvement

in major council functions are therefore all related to culture of the school. Researcher found that

all school principals and other participants were aware of particular functions of school council

as an advisory to the principle but there were still certain confusions regarding what decisions

are taken by school and what decisions are taken by school council. There were however no
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indication of a relationship between student achievement and work of school councils. Results

gathered also indicate that the degree of community involvement in schools were very low with

only one exception. Participants had clearly identified that major reasons causing problems

related to lack of parent participation was due to more prevalence of working parents, poverty

issues and language barriers (Stein, 2009). This in turn was considered to affect school’s

functioning majorly. It was also found in this study that despite sufficient efforts to improve

community and family engagement in schools at the district level, very few schools drew on such

strategies. Many barriers were identified as restrictions hampering parent involvement in

schools. Lastly, it was found that the philosophy of partnerships and collaboration with

communities and parents are supported by multiple developmental and ecological systems

theories that emphasize on the significance of interconnectedness.

These findings may be related to the current situation in UAE, where, recent studies show that

most parents are not sufficiently involved in child’s education or school life. According to Al

Sumaiti (2012), behavioral and academic problems are common in every 3 out of 10 children in

UAE, which highlights on the urgency of the problem. To mitigate such trends, different

Emirates have come up with multiple collaborative and interactive strategies that aim to foster

relationships between community/parents and school (Few parents show interest in children’s

education, 2018). The Education Affairs Office in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have held multiple
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community events, where, professors and teachers known worldwide have shared their

experiences and success stories with parents to make them aware of the importance of engaging

in child’s education. Despite such efforts, most schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi today complain

of inadequate parent participation, which remains a major reason for the high rate of drop-outs

among high school and university students (UAE concerned by alarming rate of high school

dropouts, 2018). Such findings are therefore similar to that persisting in Massachusetts and

hence, immediate attention is necessary.

A major strategy that may help in curbing this derogatory situation is raising awareness on

parent’s role in child’s education (Al-Taneiji, 2012). Moreover, encouraging schools to hold

more parent-teacher interactive meetings and sessions and improving flow of information

between schools and parents are also major strategies that may mitigate this problem (Wang &

Sheikh‐Khalil, 2014). Lastly, establishing taskforce to promote parents’ interest in school

activities is the most important strategy for improving parent school relationships in UAE

(Coleman, 2018). These policies will not only facilitate communication between schools and

parents, thereby improving parent’s ability to help their children in studies but will also help

teachers and professors in educational institutions to identify particular problems faced by

parents while teaching children at home.


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Reference list

Al Sumaiti, R. (2012). Parental involvement in the education of their children in Dubai. Dubai

School of Government Policy Brief, 30. Retrieved from:

https://khda.gov.ae/CMS/WebParts/TextEditor/Documents/Parental_Involvement_in_the

_Education.pdf

Al-Taneiji, S. (2012). The role of leadership in engaging parents in United Arab Emirate

Schools. International Education Studies, 6(1), 153. Retrieved from:

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1067113.pdf

Coleman, J. S. (2018). Parents, their children, and schools. Routledge. Retrieved from:

https://content.taylorfrancis.com/books/download?dac=C2017-0-72758-

8&isbn=9780429967047&format=googlePreviewPdf

Few parents show interest in children’s education. (2018). Retrieved from

https://gulfnews.com/news/uae/education/study-few-parents-show-interest-in-children-s-

education-1.2093088

Stein, L. B. (2009). The influence of parent and community involvement on local school councils

in Massachusetts. Retrieved from: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations_1/66/

UAE concerned by alarming rate of high school dropouts. (2018). Retrieved from

https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/UAE-concerned-by-alarming-rate-of-high-school-

dropouts
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Wang, M. T., & Sheikh‐Khalil, S. (2014). Does parental involvement matter for student

achievement and mental health in high school?. Child development, 85(2), 610-625.

Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cdev.12153