Preferred Name

Silver, Samantha

Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Dr. Debi Kipps-Vaughan

Dr. Patti Warner

Dr. Tammy Gilligan

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that when parents are involved in their children’s academic and school life, children experience improved language achievement, overall behavior, grades, test scores, have improved attendance, and a lower chance of dropping out of school (Friend and Cook, 2007). Despite the growing diversity of U.S. schools, there is a still a systemic lack of effort to include parents of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. This research study sought to examine barriers to establishing a successful collaborative relationship with these families from the perspective of elementary, middle, and high school teachers using an online survey. A total of 39 teachers from various grade levels responded to the survey. Responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics and a Cut and Sort method for open-ended questions. Responses indicated that currently, teachers in a large Northern Virginia school system perceive language differences and time constraints as the biggest barriers to establishing effective communication with culturally diverse families. Additionally, they feel like the parent’s lack of knowledge of the U.S. educational system impedes this relationship as well. While there are many supports currently available in the school system, results indicated that they are not being frequently used. Teachers suggested what supports they would find helpful (e.g. more translation services, compensated home visits, alternative meeting spots, family literacy programs) for upcoming school years. Overall, teachers felt that this is an issue that should be more of a priority in the school system. Implications of this study and recommendations for future research are included.