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Citation:Xu, J. (2001). Middle school family involvement in urban settings: Perspectives from minority students and their families. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA.

The purpose of this study is to explore the nature and extent of middle school family involvement in an urban school district. Findings indicated that both students and families shared a strong interest in the development of after-school programs and communication from school to home that the family could readily understand. Both students and families were not interested in school-based activities, such as recruiting family members to assist teachers and staff in school, or to attend PTA meetings and workshops. However, families tended to view involvement activities in school as more important than students did. Both families and students were greatly interested in family involvement at home, such as setting up a quiet place for study, showing interest in school work, assisting with homework when needed, and attending parent-teacher conferences. In general, families and students agreed that family involvement was important for success in middle school. Surprisingly, only 15 percent of the responding students did not want their families to attend any school meetings, while six of ten students wanted their families to be more involved, and seven of ten agreed that they did better in school if their families were interested in their school work. These findings suggest that types of involvement could be improved by considering students' and families' priorities. Over 150 middle school students and 81 family members were surveyed. Practitioners should note that middle school students wanting their parents to be involved is reassuring, but more investigation is needed in this area. The researcher suggests that the self-reported data in the study may be subject to distortion, due to social desirability, personal bias, or recall (Patton, 1990), although the high correspondence of the studentsÕ and familiesÕ responses serves to validate the self-report data. Also, the study does not seem to address in sufficient detail the perspectives from minority students and their families.

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