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The National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools

Supporting School, Family, and Community Connections to Increase School Success

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Connection Collection

Tips for Interpreting the Records in the Connection Collection

The annotations are intended to be summaries of the cited item, with cues interwoven in the text to guide the reader in identifying possible limitations of the piece and implications for practitioners. In the case of most research and evaluation literature, we used the following outline to write the annotations: purpose, results, method, implications for practitioner, and limitations (usually related to methodology design). For the other literature, the annotations were written following this outline: main points and key issues, conclusions, implications for practitioners, and limitations. As you read, you should expect the annotation to follow this format.

Research methodology A variety of research methods and designs were used in the studies included in this collection. The reader should keep in mind that studies may have different purposes and each should be read and interpreted according to that purpose. Studies may use varying degrees of experimental designs, with features such as control and experimental groups, random assignment, and large sample size. Non-experimental designs, such as case study, survey research, descriptive research, and correlation studies that use different statistical analysis techniques to determine association or causation, are also included. Research studies may also differ in whether data were collected as part of the study or whether researchers relied on previously collected data that may be available through data sets, particularly when there is a need for longitudinal and large scale analysis. Evaluation studies use similar methodology as research studies, but they differ in that evaluations are more concerned with the process or outcome of implementation of a program or practice, with the purpose of informing and improving that program or practice.

Many of the research studies and program evaluations included in this database refer to data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) and to Epstein's Framework for Six Types of Involvement. For the reader's convenience and quick reference, descriptions of NELS:88 and Epstein's Framework are included here.

NELS:88 Many research studies and program evaluations included in this bibliography used data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88), a large-scale national study conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics. This study followed a cohort of students as they moved from middle grades to high school and into post-secondary schooling or careers. The original sample of 24,599 students from 1,052 public and private schools in the United States was surveyed in 1988 about their attitudes and experiences in school as eighth graders (Base Year), and then again in grades ten (First Follow-up), twelve (Second Follow-up), and then two years after high school graduation. Surveys were administered to principals and to two teachers per student in the Base Year, First Follow-up and Second Follow-up to obtain information about their schools. A total of more than 20,000 parents were surveyed in the Base Year and Second Follow-up to provide data about family life and involvement in school-related activities.

Despite its immense potential the NELS:88 cannot be used to address all questions about family involvement in the middle and high school grades. As in all large scale surveys the NELS:88 data tend to be broader than they are deep, with only a few items to explore each of the many facets of school and family life that are addressed in the surveys. NELS:88 does not necessarily measure all forms of family involvement. There is also lack of detailed information from teachers about their attitudes and practices of involving families in the middle grades. The reader should be cautious not to overestimate the cause-effect relationship of statistical analyses when interpreting results from studies analyzing the NELS:88 data, due to the non-experimental nature of the data and design. Also, results should not be generalized to settings beyond middle and high schools. It is also important to keep in mind that researchers used a variety of subsets from this data, so the sample size is not the same in all studies. When researchers used a subset, the annotation includes the specific sample size used in the study. If sample size is not mentioned, the reader may assume the use of the entire NELS:88 sample size of 24,559 students. More information about the NELS:88 data can be found at: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/nels88/

Epstein's Framework of Six Types of Involvement
Epstein's framework outlines six dimensions of parent-school partnerships:

Type 1 Parenting--assisting families with parent skills and setting home conditions to support children as students. Also, assisting schools to understand families.
Type 2 Communicating--Conducting effective communications from school-to-home and from home-to-school about school programs and student progress.
Type 3 Volunteering--Organizing volunteers and audiences to support the school and students. Providing volunteer opportunities in various locations and at various times.
Type 4 Learning at Home--Involving families with their children on homework and other curriculum-related activities and decisions.
Type 5 Decision Making--Including families as participants in school decisions, and developing parent leaders and representatives.
Type 6 Collaborating with the Community--Coordinating resources and services from the community for families, students, and the school, and providing services to the community.

In addition to searching for resources, you may also click here to browse the citations by connection type.

Free Webinar Series
The U.S. Department of Education and its partners invite you to view the archive for the webinar, Bringing it All Together: Family and Community Engagement Policies in Action, which took place on November 16, 2011.

This is the ninth and final webinar in the series, Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement.