Challenging assumptions about affluence: a study of socioeconomic status and parental involvement in middle school

This study examined the involvement activities and achievement measures of a small sample population of middle school students and their families in a coastal Southern California community. The sample population was comprised of both lowincome and income advantaged families of varied ethnic backgrounds. Farnily involvement was measured with the Family Involvement Questionnaire and considered with a multi-dimensional approach that categorizes involvement activities into three main types: Home-Based Involvement, School-Based Involvement, and Home-School Communication. Achievement measures included standardized test scores as well as grades. Supplementary data were also gathered through interviews and other school records. Themes that emerged included acknowledging the climate of the school as a factor in inhibited parent involvement, considering alternate methods of reaching hard-to-reach parents, and validating less visible but equally meaningful parent involvement activities. The findings challenge common assumptions about lower involvement levels of low-income families and highlight the need for improving school interactions with low-income families in a majority middle-income school community. Keywords: Parent involvement, middle school, low-income, multi-dimensional, involvement activities.