Research Spotlight

Dana Griffin, John Galassi study parent perceptions in a rural middle school

Dana Griffin

Dana Griffin

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John Galassi

John Galassi

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Published in The Carolina Slate, Spring 2009

Dana Griffin, assistant professor of school counseling, is working with her colleague John Galassi, professor of school counseling, to explore family-school-community collaboration in a rural middle school.

Research has shown that parents’ attitudes, behaviors and involvement influence student academic success. Research also has shown that parental involvement tends to decrease in middle and high school, and that rural schools often have fewer resources to support academic success than suburban and urban schools. Griffin and Galassi are studying parent perceptions of barriers to academic success of children who attend a rural middle school.

They conducted focus groups of parents of both successful and at-risk students, asking parents to talk about obstacles to students’ academic success. All the parents expressed concern about five barriers: lack of consistent communication with teachers; teachers’ preconceived notions about students; students’ fear of asking for help; an overemphasis on high stakes testing; and lack of available resources in the school and community.

Additionally, parents of at-risk students identified four other major barriers: children not fitting in; children focusing on friendships and romantic relationships; teachers and students not getting along; and parents not being involved. Parents were asked to suggest additional resources that would be helpful.

The results of the focus groups suggest that the following additional strategies might help address at-risk students’ barriers to academic success: regular parent-teacher communication; greater parental involvement in the school; and affordable summer programs.