The Influence of Parent and Community Involvement on Local School Councils in Massachusetts
This dissertation has been moved to the following series:
Education reform efforts in the last fifteen to twenty years at the state and federal levels have provisions for family/community involvement in the schools based on beliefs that partnerships lead to higher student achievement and better outcomes for students, parents and teachers. These requirements have embraced the concept of parent and community involvement in various forms including some aspects of school governance. The Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 included this concept of participatory governance with the establishment of local school councils (LSC). The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe the function and influence of local school councils on school improvement and to provide a better understanding of the role of parent/family and community involvement in those efforts. Data was gathered over a nine month period in three elementary schools in different communities through observation of school council meetings; interviews with various members of the school community, and review of relevant materials. Results of data analysis showed that the function and influence of local school councils on school improvement, and the impact of parent and community involvement on school council function were related to the overall culture of the school. Parent involvement in the school and parent influence on the work of the school council was strengthened by the relationship with the parent organization and other parent involvement activities in the school. The attitude and commitment to parent involvement present in the school culture, as well as, the efforts to recruit parent and community members with the resulting parity in membership also influenced the work of the school council. The results mirrored previous research that showed inconsistencies in the implementation of school councils across the country, that the evidence of their influence on school improvement has been limited, and that schools with existing parent involvement activities before the initiation of school councils had more positive influence on school improvement. Recommendations for further research in family-school relationships, training and oversight of school councils, training for educators, and the allocation of more state and local resources to support school improvement efforts are discussed.