An Action Research Project
The Faculty of the Department of Educational Leadership
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Education in Education Administration
THE EFFECT OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT ON THE TRUANCY RATE OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
The abstract is an overall summary of the completed action research study. Wait until you have the results and conclusions of your research study to write the abstract. The purpose of an abstract is for the reader to quickly see if this is a report they wish to read. A reader should get a general overview of your whole project from reading the abstract. In your abstract, include a sentence on the purpose of the project, a brief description of your topic, the research setting and participants, your research methods, your basic findings and the conclusions and recommendations. Be sure to include the basics, i.e., school, location, problem addressed, intervention, and results as clearly and succinctly as possible. The abstract should “stand alone” on the paper’s second page. You should begin your paper on the third page, without paragraph indentation. Abstracts are typically 250 words or less.
THE EFFECT OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT ON THE TRUANCY RATE OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Truancy is an issue that has plagued schools and districts nationwide for years. It is a pre-indicator for juvenile delinquency and high school dropouts. Most studies show that truancy leads to criminal activities. It is our duty, as educators, to find a way to get students to attend school and be successful. Just from being a part of my small, rural campus for six years, I feel the lack of parental involvement plays a role in our truancy issues. For example, we have an information source called ‘Parent Portal’ where parents can log in and see their child’s grades and attendance. A parent can also set their ‘Parental Portal’ up to notify them when their child has a failing grade or is absent. Very few parents utilize this program. So, most parents do not realize their child has been absent from school because they have left for work in the neighboring town before the child had to be at school. Our campus, being located in a rural, north Texas town does not allow very many parents to work in the same town. They travel twenty to thirty minutes for work. This alone causes a decrease in parental involvement. A study to determine the amount of parental involvement we actually have on our campus and to be able to relate it to our truant students, will help our campus improve. The more the students are present at school, the chance of them being successful is greater.
The target population was truant high school students (approximate-7.2% from the previous two years’ data). There were approximately two hundred and fifty students enrolled at the 3A rural school district in north Texas. The school districts demographics included 1.0% African American, 7.8% Hispanic, 83.7% White, 1.4% American Indian, 6.1% of Two or More Races. In addition, 31.2% were Economically Disadvantaged, 0.0% were English Language Learners, 2.8% were Students with Disciplinary Placement, 68.8% were Non-Educationally Disadvantaged, and 40.3% were At-Risk according to the 2014-15 Texas Academic Performance Report (most recent report).
One major issue that school districts state wide and nation-wide face and see little or no improvement with is successfully dealing with student truancy. Reasons students do not attend school can be influenced by a number of factors ranging from a lack of parental involvement, an unsupportive school environment or family, transportation problems, poor health, or lack of motivation. Truancy is like absenteeism, but truancy is an unexcused absence from school or classes about which parents do not know. Truancy in students has been known to stem from an influence of peers, relations with teachers, the classes in which the students are enrolled, family aspects, bullying, new school with no friends, etc. The main difference between truancy and absenteeism is that truancy is unexcused and unlawful. This research study focuses on the connection of parental involvement and truancy of high school students.
The purpose of this action research study was to examine the effect of parental involvement on the truancy rate of high school students. The research question for this study was: What impact does parental involvement have on the truancy rate of high school students? Texas law requires that school districts report unexcused absences because truancy poses a grim threat to learning in most schools. When children miss school, they miss out on learning, which leads to poor grades and feelings of failure, which in turn leads to more absences. The economic status of society is an issue as well. Many parents are preoccupied with duties (working, traveling, etc.) outside the homes that they have little or no time to keep watch over the action and behavior of their children. Most available jobs for parents where this research was conducted, are located within 20 to 100 miles from the school. It is perilous that parents of truant students assume a greater responsibility for their student’s education (Van Breda, 2014). This research study will investigate and explain why parental involvement effects truancy of students.
Significance of the Study
Due to truancy leading to other factors such as, illegal or criminal activities and dropping out of school, a solution to deter truancy needs to occur. The costs and impact of chronic truancy are significant, with both short- and long-term implications for the truant students as well as for the family, school, and community of the truant students. It is anticipated that the results of this study, which recognize parental involvement at the secondary school level, allows the truant students to become successful. By doing so, these interventions could produce more successful students in society.
Dropout. A dropout was a student who attended Grade 7‐12 in a public school in a specific school year, did not return the subsequent fall semester, was not expelled, and did not graduate high school, did not receive a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, did not attend a private school, did not begin college, or did not die (Texas Education Agency, 2016).
Parental involvement. Parental involvement means that the parent(s) play a vital role in supporting their child’s learning, meaningful contribution in their student’s academic learning and other school activities (Parental Involvement, 2014).
Parent portal. The parent portal is a tool for the parent to stay informed by allowing them to view their child’s grades and involved in their child’s education by monitoring their attendance (Parent Portal, 2016).
School messenger. School messenger was designed to notify parents when students are absent from school, school communication systems save time and provide more immediate, comprehensive engagement with the parents (West, 2016).
Socioeconomic disadvantaged. Students are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged if they partake in the free and reduced-price lunch program or if neither parent graduated from high school. The National School Lunch program provides free lunches to students whose family income is below 130% of the federal poverty line; it offers reduced-price lunches to students whose family income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty line. Lunch program participation is often used as an indication of family income levels at the school (Poleshuck and Green, 2008).
Truancy. Rogers (2014) defines truancy as a student deliberately spending time away from school and from home, usually the parents are unaware of the student’s actions.
Txtwire. Txtwire software allows teachers to send out mass text messages to parents and students reminding them of assignments, tests, meetings, etc. (Txtwire Technologies, 2015).
Review of the Literature
A thorough review of literature was conducted in order to better understand the background and impact of parental involvement on truancy of high school students. It was significant to review what outside factors resulted in the students’ truancy issues and what outside factors determined the amount of parental involvement. Students with parents who were involved in their school relatively had fewer behavioral problems and better academic performance, and were more likely to complete high school than students whose parents were not involved in their school. Parental involvement allowed parents to monitor school and classroom activities, and their child’s behavior in and out of school.
Impact of Parental Involvement
The theory that all forms of parent involvement raise educational expectations, reduce truancy and absenteeism, and generally improve achievement continues to be challenging according to this article (McNeal, 2012). A negative effect can occur when the parents only become involved after something bad as occurred, causing the student to become more reluctant to attend school. The timing of parent involvement has to be early and not overbearing. Many of the key explanations for how parent involvement affects children rely on changes in the children’s attitudes, values, and commitment to school. Parenting style and parental involvement also distinguished students who dropout of high school and students who graduated high school (Staudt, 2014). Parental involvement can be divided into two general categories: school-site involvement and home involvement. School-site involvement relates to the parent being visible at the school events and home involvement relates to the parent being supportive of school issues at home.
Home involvement consisted of parent-child discussions. This was theorized as the degree to which parents and children actively involved in conversations relating to education (McNeal, 2014). The conversation included talking about school in general, school-related activities, homework, and planning the student’s high school graduation plan. By taking this active interest in the student’s educational activities, the student was less likely to be truant (McNeal, 2014). A parent’s monitoring of the child’s behavior and daily routines had also reduced the risk of truancy. Some predictors of truancy are parental education, large amounts of unsupervised time after school, drug use, and disinterest in school (Nolan, Cole, Wroughton, Clayton-Cole & Riffe, (2015). Havik, Bru, and Ertesvag (2015) stated truancy may be difficult to prevent, especially if the student expressed a fear for school.
Effect Truancy had on the Student, their Parents, their Family, their School, and their Community
This article defined truancy as a social problem subjective by several factors including the family, the school, and the community (Staudt, 2014). The research compared students who were truant to students who were not and they found that the truant students had undesirable school experiences, lower academic performance, inferior social capabilities and more family struggles. Truancy was linked with other destructive behaviors such as dropping out of school, illegal drug abuse, and criminal activities (Staudt, 2014). A study of truant students (referred to truant court) and their parents found that twenty-two percent of the students tested positive for illegal drug use (Staudt, 2104).
Truancy does not only effect the student but the community as well, due to the increased acts of delinquency, increased crime rates, and an increase in unskilled laborers (Henry, 2007). Due to truancy being a precursor to criminal activities, programs need to be developed to reduce truancy (Rogers, 2014). Law enforcement and social services were the next steps for most truant students (Rogers, 2014). These steps not only effected the student, but also the family. The community was effected by the delinquent activities and buy paying for the social services due to most of the students being socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Affect Socioeconomic Status had on Truancy
Predictors of truancy were found inside and outside of the school environment, such as, socioeconomic status. Research suggested that the family’s socioeconomic status wielded a substantial impact on the likelihood that students attended school regularly or not. Students who were homeless or resided in temporary housing (living with a friend or family member) were also more likely to miss school. Reports from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Coalition for the Homeless (2007) reported that while 87% of homeless youth were enrolled in school only 77% attended school regularly. The National Coalition for the Homeless (2007) reported that children who were homeless were also more mobile than their peers making regular school attendance more difficult. They estimated that half of homeless youth change schools two or more times each academic year. Forty percent change schools at least one time. Thus, the child’s home status significantly predicted whether the child would attend regularly.
Subjective social status, or how an adolescent perceived herself or himself in the social ladder compared to peers, affected their attendance (Cubbin, Vesely, Braveman, and Oman, 2011). Their socioeconomic status led to poor self-image, which led to them being uncomfortable at school, causing them to be truant. Poor parenting was often a symptom of poverty and the cycle in these lower socioeconomic neighborhoods were hard to break because the student learned the bad behavior. Truancy was higher in deprived areas or in schools with poor family backgrounds (Zhang, 2007).
Truancy, in high schools, has been an ongoing problem for years. There are several factors that play a role in a student becoming truant including parental involvement. The studies are inconclusive on the amount of parental involvement causing truancy. This study hopes to help fill the literature gap and give educators a better view of the potential and/or limits of parental involvement and truancy.
Action Research Design
The target population was truant high school students (approximate-7.2% from the previous two years’ data). There are approximately two hundred and fifty students at the 3A rural school district in north Texas. The school districts demographics include 1.0% African American, 7.8% Hispanic, 83.7% White, 1.4% American Indian, 6.1% of Two or More Races. In addition, 31.2% were Economically Disadvantaged, 0.0% were English Language Learners, 2.8% were Students with Disciplinary Placement, 68.8% were Non-Educationally Disadvantaged, and 40.3% were At-Risk according to the 2014-15 Texas Academic Performance Report (most recent report).
A School Messenger software program and Txtwire software program were initiated in the researcher’s high school in the Fall of 2016. In order to narrow the study, the researcher focused the study on high school truant students. The truant students were identified by collecting data from the previous two school years (2014-2015 and 2015-2016). Because parental involvement is difficult to measure, a mixed methods study was carried out. A student survey, a parent questionnaire, and a focus group of teachers were used for this study.
A survey was issued to the students at the beginning of the school year (2016). The survey asked how many parent(s) resided in their household, how active were their parents in their school activities and the last question asked if they would like their parents to be less or more activate in their school activities. This survey was given at the beginning of the school year and at the end of the school year to learn their opinions of parental involvement. Simultaneously a questionnaire was sent out to all parents of the researcher’s high school. The questionnaire asked how comfortable did they feel attending or being involved in their child’s school activities, and if they felt uncomfortable, what could the school do to change that feeling. This questionnaire was also sent out at the first of the school year and then again at the end of the school year to learn what the researcher’s high school could do to engage more parental involvement. The small focus group of teachers was designed to form some quantitative data or feedback on the truant students that they had had in class. The discussion was based on the amount of parental involvement they witnessed when they had the truant student(s) in class.
Data Collection and Analysis
Due to truancy being measurable by quantitative research and the researcher’s campus wanting to know the opinions of their students and parents, a mixed-method design was chosen for this action research project. The research question is ‘What impact does parental involvement have on the truancy rate of high school students?’ The plan for the quantitative portion of the data collection was to collect the attendance data from 2014-15 and 2015-16 in order to identify the truant students. The researcher also collected the attendance data each six weeks of the 2016-2017 school year as well. A student is considered truant if they have ten or more absences in at least one period/class in a semester. The researcher used this as the quantitative portion of the mixed-method design. She compared these three years to see if there was an increase or decrease in truancy. After comparing these three years, she talked with the teachers who have had these truant students in class and asked their opinions on why the student was truant.
The first week of school a survey was handed out for the students to complete. The first question asked how many parents live in the house in which they reside. The second question asked them (on a scale from zero to five) how involved their parent(s) were with their school activities. Following that question, the researcher asked how the parents are involved; helped with homework, helped with projects, came to sporting events, corresponded with teachers, etc. The next question asked if they would like their parent(s) to be less or more involved with their school activities. The last question asked what was usually the reason for being absent from school. This provided an understanding of what students thought or felt about parental involvement and why they were missing school. Meanwhile, a questionnaire was sent home to the parent(s). This questionnaire asked the parent(s) if they felt comfortable being active in their child’s school activities. If not, what could be done as a campus to make them feel more welcomed or make them feel more comfortable being active in their child’s school activities. By questioning the parent(s), the researcher hoped to be able to understand how the community feels about the culture of the campus. The researcher also hoped to be able to use some of their suggestions, if the overall view of the campus was negative. The last part of the qualitative data collection was to interview the teachers. After identifying the truant students, the researcher wanted to talk with the truant students’ past teachers and their current school year teachers. She asked the questions such as: ‘How many times were you in communications with the parent(s)?’ ‘What type of communications?’ ‘What was the student’s attitude towards school?’ ‘What was the student’s attitude towards their parent(s)?’ ‘What was their overall opinion of why this particular student was truant and what could be done to change the situation?’
Having viewed and analyzed the attendance records, surveyed the students, questioned the parents, and having had had discussions with teachers, triangulation was used. Triangulation of the quantitative attendance data, the qualitative surveys, questionnaires, and small focus groups with the teachers provided validity and reliability for the findings on parental involvement.
The quantitative portion of this study had a sample size of 215 students out of 250 students enrolled and 105 parents out of the 250 students enrolled. The researcher compared the attendance rates of the students who had parental involvement as opposed to the students who did not have parental involvement. The researcher also compared the attendance rates of the students who have a one-parent household as opposed to a two-parent household. This section presents the findings from your study. Notice that this is a new section of the paper. Use APA Level 1 heading (a bold, centered text header). In this section, you report the results from your data analysis. The discussion should be thorough and include information about how the results relate to your research question. Any limitations or factors that should be taken into account when interpreting the results should be included here. Remember you are just reporting in this section. Save your interpretations of the findings or results for the “Conclusions and Recommendations” section. In the first paragraph of the “Findings” section, it is helpful to give the reader an introduction into the section’s content. Thus, you should introduce the themes which emerged from your data analysis and briefly explain how you arrived at the themes.
If you collected quantitative data (numbers of office referrals, grades, etc.) you should present the data in a clear fashion with tables, bar graphs, etc. In short, present numerical data in a simple way that the reader can easily see the results. If you collected qualitative data (observation notes, interview highlights, etc.) you may present your findings in narrative but bullets or sub-headings may help the reader better understand your results. This is not the section for long explanations of how’s or why’s, but the simplest and clearest way for the reader to see your results.
For the “Findings” section, it is helpful to include a short summary paragraph. Use APA Level 2 heading to introduce the paragraph and summarize your findings. Describe the results in terms of what you expected to find, and whether or not your original expectations were supported by the data. Tie the results back to the introduction, referring back to the articles you presented in the review of the literature.
Conclusions and Recommendations
This is a new section of the paper. Use APA Level 1 heading (a bold, centered text header). The previous sections presented the facts of your action research project. This section begins with a brief summary of your project.
This final section is for you to present the conclusions that you believe can be drawn from the results you found. This is your judgment, as you are now an expert on your study. The discussion should be thorough and include information about how the results relate to your research question. Any limitations or factors that should be taken into account when interpreting the results should be included here.
Your study may have shown major or minor results or no changes in the problem you were trying to solve. Regardless of whether you got the results you hoped for, the findings of your study are a help to others. To know whether a particular intervention in a particular context works or not, is good information for educational leaders to have. So, be honest and do not feel your study failed if you did not have major changes or you completely solved the problem.
Use APA Level 2 heading. Following your conclusions, you should reflect on your entire study and findings and conclusions. Remember there is no such thing as a perfect research study, you can always make revisions. In this reflection you summarize and explain what you gained from the action research process. Reflect on how your findings will contribute to a change in practice for you, your colleagues and your school. Reflect on aspects of your study that you might want to do differently next time. Mertler (2014) emphasizes the importance of the action research project through reflecting on questions such as: Was I able to sufficiently answer my research questions? Might it be necessary for me to change the questions for the next cycle of my research and data collection? Did my research design end up being appropriate for what I wanted to address with my research questions? Were the data I collected the most appropriate for enabling me to answer my research questions?
Since you led the action research project, you were in the position to best advise the reader with recommendations. Present recommendations based on your findings. Avoid the temptation to present recommendations based your own beliefs or biases that are not specifically supported by your data. Recommendations fall into two categories. The first is recommendation to those close to your study. What actions do you recommend they take based upon the data? A recommendation could be for all teachers or administrators with the same problem you solved to use your intervention or not to use. Most often you will recommend better ways to implement the intervention due to all the lessons you learned in your study. The second is recommendations to other researchers. There are always ways that a study could be improved or refined. What would you change if you were to do your study again? In short, this section is your opportunity to teach those reading your study what worked, what did not work, and ways to better solve the problem, as well as make recommendations for future research.
Finally, end the report with general conclusions, and what they mean to the current state of the theory, what gaps still exist (what is still not well understood). You might add specific actions that the field of education needs to conduct further research on to fill those gaps.
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