14 SES 02 A, Policies and Actions to Promote School-Family-Community Links II
It takes a village to raise a child.”-says the old African proverb. One good way to interpret this saying is to suggest that adults need to work together to establish the necessary conditions for children to learn. The same is true for parental involvement in policymaking. Parents, as important actors in the education system, should be there when decisions regarding their children’s education are made and policymakers should be mindful of them when policies are implemented.
It has been proven internationally that the appropriate involvement of parents has a positive impact on their children’s educational career.(Meta-studies by Henderson, 2002; Jeynes 2005) It is only logical, that from the policymaking point of view parents are an important stakeholder group. Scholars dealing with regulation and governance tend to agree that governments have lost their central roles as they have to take into consideration many actors that intervene in complex policy-making processes among them the so called “lay actors” such as parents. Even if they are not invited they are going to intervene in the process. (Pons, 2007). While some researchers investigating policy implementation have a say in this matter as well, the resistance or support from parents exerts an influence on effectiveness implementation. Lack of buy in from their part can slow the process down (Aladjem, 2010) It can also otherwise be an obstacle in the way by for example weakening teachers’ motivation to learn or in more serious cases even by rewriting conditions through leaving the school(van Twist – van der Steen, 2013) Some actors, for example leaders of effective education systems (Mourshed et al., 2010) have realized the importance of engaging parents for the aim of improving student outcomes. However, it does not seem to be widely acknowledged, that reform and policy efforts should take parents into consideration. A recent study on NCLB’s parent involvement program shows how even if a centrally initiated policy has a parent involvement measure, due to lack of adequate implementation parents can still easily be „left behind”. (Webster, 2010)
It has been shown in an international survey based on the parental questionnaire of the 2009 OECD PISA survey, that Hungary is still far behind in the degree of parent involvement. (Borgonovi, 2012) Genuine invitations for parents to participate in the school’s life and the issues of their children’s education happen rarely. Much rather parents and schools have a hierarchic relationship where schools are often considered unquestionable centres of authority (Fáy, 1996). Parents are expected to comply with school rules, but are not given much say in the way the school functions and there are many cases where schools, parents, and even policymakers blame each other for student failure. In many cases, the parent school relationship takes form of traditional, routine encounters and one-sided and/or problem centered communication (Tárki-Tudok, 2013). This also seems to be a problem that can be conceptualized as shared by countries in Eastern Europe. A recent piece of large scale quantitative research exploring parent involvement in South Eastern European countries has found that schools’ relationship with parents is largely traditional and excluding.(Kovács-Cserovic et al., 2010)
The aim of my research was to investigate the involvement of parents in the life of Hungarian schools and the issues of their child's learning and the connection of such involvement to policy implementation. I had two main questions:
1, What is the degree and the quality of parent involvement in Hungarian elementary and secondary schools participating in curriculum-oriented developmental programs funded by the European Union?
2, How does the degree and quality of parent involvement in such schools influence the implementation of these programs?
Aladjem et al. (2010): Achieving Dramatic School Improvement: An exploratory Study, U.S. Department of Education. Borgonovi, F., & Montt, G. (2012): Parental Involvement in Selected PISA Countries and Economies. OECD Education Working Papers. Fazekas, Á. (2014): A szervezeti jellemzők hatása a fejlesztési programok iskolai szintű megvalósulására. [The impact of organizational characteristics on the class-room level implementation of development programs].Neveléstudomány online, Budapest. Fáy, Á. (1996) Szülő és Iskola kapcsolata. [The relationship between parent and school] Retrievable: http://www.alkotmanyossagi-muhely.hu/szulo_iskola_kapcsolat_1995.htm Henderson, A. T., Mapp, K. L., & Buttram, J. (2002): A New Wave of Evidence. National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Jeynes, W. H. (2005): A Meta-Analysis of the Relation of Parental Involvement to Urban Elementary School Student Academic Achievement. Urban Education, 40(3), 237-269. Kovacs-Cerovic et al. (2010): Governance and Social Inclusion. Parent participation in the life of schools in South East Europe. CEPS, Ljubljana. Mourshed, M. – Chijioke, C. – Barber, M. (2010): How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better. Mckinsey&Company Pons, X. (2007). Knowledge circulation , regulation and governance. Literature review. Know and Pol Research Project TÁRKI-TUDOK (2013) Értjük-e egymást szülık és pedagógusok? Összefoglaló tanulmány egy a szülők és pedagógusok körében végzett on-line kutatásról. [Do we, parents and teachers understand each other? Research report from an online survey.] Retrievable: http://www.t-tudok.hu/files/2/kutatasi_jelentes_a_szulo-pedagogus_kommunikaciorol.pdf Van Twist, M., M. van der Steen, M. Kleiboer, J. Scherpenisse and H. Theisens (2013): Coping with very weak primary schools: towards smart interventions in Dutch education policy. A Governing Complex Education Systems Case Study, OECD. Webster, A. K. (2010) Parents Left Behind. A Top Down Policy Study of Section 1118 of No Child Left Behind. Universal-publishers.
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