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Citation:McWilliam, R. A., Maxwell, K. L., & Sloper, K. M. (1999). Beyond ''involvement'': Are elementary schools ready to be family-centered? School Psychology Review, 28(3), 378-394.

This study explores parents' and educators' perspectives of family-centered practices in early elementary school (grades kindergarten through third). Authors describe family-centered practices as those practices schools engage in when becoming involved with families to the extent families choose, rather than simply expecting families to become involved on the schoolÕs terms. The study found that all those surveyed favored more family-centered practices. However, families of children with disabilities reported receiving fewer family-centered services from schools than reported by teachers as being provided. They rated actual school practices as less family-centered than educators and other families did. The authors note that these results show a value for family-centered practices across all groups, but reflect a gap between reality and the ideal. For this study, 88 special educators, 67 regular educators, 75 parents of children with disabilities, and 46 parents of typically-developing children completed a survey measuring perceptions of typical and ideal practices in school responsiveness to families, the quality of specialized services, school atmosphere related to parents, and school encouragement of parent advocacy. The survey used was the Family Centered Elementary School Practices Scale (McWilliam, Sloper, & Maxwell, 1996). An adaptation of the Help-giving Practices Scale (Dunst, Trivette, & Hamby, 1996) was used to validate the Family Centered Scale. Family-centered practices as described by this study have potential for providing a new way for education professionals to establish partnerships with families, empower them, and attend to family-level needs. The authors conducted sophisticated analyses of the data, but further studies would be appropriate to determine the "ceiling effect" of the rating scale.

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