Teachers' perceptions on the impact of student academic achievement and parental involvement through the PowerSchool(TM) program in a Catholic school diocese
Table of Contents ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii DEDICATION vi LIST OF TABLES v I. INTRODUCTION 1 Parent Involvement 3 Teacher Communication 4 Internet Access 6 Problem Statement 7 Purpose of Study 10 Guiding Questions 11 Definitions 11 Limitations 14 Significance of the Study 16 Rationale/Theoretical Framework 18 Outline of Study 20 II. LITERATURE REVIEW 21 Parent-Teacher Communication 24 Teacher Communication .26 Internet Access 28 Availability to Grades 30 Classroom Technology 31 Professional Development 33 Connectivity 35 Summary 3 6 III. METHODOLOGY 39 Introduction 39 Research Design 39 Instrumentation 40 Procedures 43 Survey Instrument 43 Determination of Sample 45 Sampling Methods 45 Treatment of Data 46 v
DATA COLLECTION 4 9 Qualitative 4 9 Quantitative 71 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 120 Summary 120 Data Interpretation 121 Implications for Practice 135 Implications for Policy 139 Future Recommendations 142 Concluding Remarks 14 4 REFERENCES 14 6 Appendix A 152 Appendix B 154 Appendix C 159 Appendix D 181 Appendix E 190 vi
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TEACHERS' PERCEPTIONS ON THE IMPACT OF STUDENT ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AND PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT THROUGH THE POWERSCHOOL™ PROGRAM IN A CATHOLIC SCHOOL DIOCESE BY ADELE K. ELLIS Abstract No one can dispute the fact that Home-School connection is one of the most important factors affecting student achievement (Kerwin, 2005.) The increased use of technology in daily life can cement Home-School communication using the Internet to connect teachers and parents at another level. After the release of "A Nation at Risk" measurement of accountability was more significant in regards to student achievement. In striving to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 (U.S. Department of Education, 2003), more school districts are investigating how technology programs can help increase student success through increased parental involvement. Programs that are being evaluated are focused on teacher-parent communication via the Internet. This study measures the teacher perceived relationship between student academic success and parental involvement through the use of a specific diocesan sponsored Internet-based program, PowerSchool™. One of the major focuses of the research was to determine the relationship between the teacher's comfort level with the program, other
software programs and hardware using this additional avenue of communication to promote increased student success with increased parent involvement. The purpose of this study was three-fold: to determine whether there is a relationship between teacher use of the PowerSchool™ program and increased communication with parents in a Catholic school system, to determine if the teacher's ability to use PowerSchool™ with ease to communicate more effectively with parents will reflect positively in student achievement, and if the PowerSchool™ program increases teacher comfort level with technology through its usage. There were four specific questions to focus on the impact of the program as determined by the participants' responses. The research focused on: 1. What influence does teacher perceived comfort level (TPCL) have on actual technology use by the teachers? 2. How does TPCL influence successful parent communication? 3. How will the teachers use of the Internet-based SDIS program impact communication with parents with regards to the student's academic status? 4. How does TPCL in technology encourage teachers to seek access to professional development in technology? There is not a large amount of research in the area of perception of parental impact on student academic success with the use of this type of technology. As technology becomes more part of the educational training of a child it is a factor to be considered in their academic success.
1 Chapter I INTRODUCTION No one can dispute the fact that home-school connection is one of the most important factors affecting student achievement (Kervin, 2005.) The increased use of technology in daily life can cement home-school communication using the Internet to connect teachers and parents at another level. Excerpt from Alice in Wonderland (Carroll, 2004): ..Alice ...went on. ^Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?' ^That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat. yl don't much care where,' said Alice. AThen it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat. It seems that the educational system is repeating this sentiment with technology. Discussion at board meetings, faculty workshops, and parent nights illustrate the need to improve technology in our schools. After the release of "A Nation at Risk" measurement of accountability was more significant in regards to student achievement. In striving to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 (U.S. Department of Education, 2003), more school districts are investigating how technology programs can
2 help increase student success through increased parental involvement. Programs that are being evaluated are focused on teacher-parent communication via the Internet. One dimension of this issue is the comfort level of the teacher who uses technology to communicate with parents and students, and how that teacher can achieve this more effectively. Teachers and parents are not using technology efficiently to communicate with each other. The Milken Exchange on Education Technology (as cited in Nixon, 2002), part of the Milken Family Foundation, reported that in 2001 only 12 percent of U.S. elementary and middle school teachers used Internet access to communicate with parents. Teacher comfort correlates with preparation for class presentations rather than for communication. There have been several studies in the last 10 years regarding the need for more training and for guidance to achieve this goal (Bebell et al., 2003.) One objective of NCLB is to include teacher professional development as illustrated by 25 percent of monies being awarded for technology in a school. The availability of computers with Internet access in classrooms and the homes of faculty and students add another level of communication
3 to enhance student achievement. This study measures the teacher perceived relationship between student academic success and parental involvement through the use of a specific diocesan sponsored Internet-based program, PowerSchool™ (Pearson Education, 2006). One of the major focuses of the research was to determine the relationship between the teacher's comfort level with the program, other software programs and hardware using this additional avenue of communication to promote increased student success with increased parent involvement. Parent Involvement The old adage that "parents are a child's first teacher" is well known. This role does not stop at the school door when the child enters either pre-school or kindergarten (Heise, 2002.) As students go on with their educational path parental involvement diminishes at a time where continuation can have a positive effect on academic success (Henderson 2002.) At a middle school level the majority of parental involvement is absent. The faculty and staff must work with parents to increase the parents' ability to be as supportive as possible with the educational system (Brandes, 2005.) The current system of communication is restrictive in
4 the choices parents have to gather information to help their child succeed. Communication from the classroom to a student's home environment is not timely and has minimal impact (Kervin, 2005.) Many families must be enabled to interact with the teacher well beyond the 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day. Parents can not longer afford the luxury of conforming their workday with the typical school day schedule. Teacher Communication Schools provide general information through newsletters, websites, parent groups, and e-mails. Not all of those methods communicate pertinent data specific to the needs of each child. Parent-teacher conferences, progress reports, and report cards share personal achievements and concerns for the child; however most are accomplished at a time that has little potential for improvement by the end of the semester or year (Cameron & Lee, 1997). Progress reports in the 10 week cycle of a quarter are provided to parents only 3 weeks prior to the end of the quarter. Grades from report cards are finalized as a picture of the previous 10 weeks with no opportunity to improve. E-mail enables teachers and parents to be more communicative regarding concerns and has increased
5 parental knowledge of student progress. E-mail can provide teachers and parents with private, two-way messaging with benefits similar to phone calls, but without lost messages or leaving voice mail. Communication via e-mail allows teachers and parents to correspond anytime, day or night (Nixon, 2002). It is not used on a regular basis for all children. E-mail messages can also be misinterpret if not carefully written. Teachers have found that open communication with parents has a positive impact on student achievement (Henderson et al., 2002). The amount of time that middle school and high school teachers expend to communicate with the large number of parents of their students diminishes necessary professional planning time. Elementary and early childhood teachers have limited time during the school day as well. Although the number of students assigned to their care is smaller than the upper grades, these teachers have their students for longer periods in the day which reduces their communication time. Teachers have begun in the last decade to use computer-based grade books to record student grades (Nixon, 2002). Not all gradebook programs enable anyone
6 other than the author to view its contents. The teachers in the Diocese of Metuchen had the option to use gradebook programs of their choice until the 2008- 2009 school year. In the course of the next several years schools will be placed on a timeline to use the Internet-based gradebook, PowerTeacher™ (Pearson, 2006), a subprogram of PowerSchool™ (Pearson, 2006). Professional development will be needed to transfer knowledge of other systems to the diocesan-wide choice and to train teachers who have not used any computer- based program for grading. Internet Access To address this concern schools in the diocese have explored student database information systems (SDIS) to provide information not only to the parents, but to federal and state governments in order to qualify for funding and reporting statistics required by NCLB. SDIS that have an Internet access component for the visualization of student grades and attendance are becoming more utilized (Nixon 2002). These programs allow access to information from the home or work computer at any time of day or night. Parents will need to have access to the Internet either through home, work, or other local community sites. Schools
7 that provide this service will need to focus on providing forums for introduction and information to make the parents aware of the potential to assist their child. In some cases the schools will need to provide the avenue to access the program for parents who have no access to Internet services. Problem Statement The Diocese of Metuchen implemented an Internet- based program designed to share grades and assignments in cyberspace in order to increase student success through communication with parents online. The program, PowerSchool™ (Pearson, 2006), now owned by Pearson Education, formerly an Apple product, is new to the diocese on a trial basis in 2006-2007. It includes an e-mail component to enable parent communication with teachers regarding specific assignments and grades. Teachers must be trained to use this program effectively. At present many of the teachers have technology skills that can be considered marginal or at a beginner level. This program is designed to be used on a daily basis and will require a paradigm shift for many. In the 21st century most households are dual income earners. Fewer parents enjoy the ability to come to
8 the school during the day to speak to the teacher regarding their child's progress. Many of them would be more involved if they could do so during any time of the day or night (D'Orio, 2000). Teachers have many responsibilities and returning to the school for several evening meetings to meet the needs of the families is burdensome. In order to increase the communication level between home and school a process must be in place that can accommodate the schedules for all parties involved. Feedback on student progress should be available during the semester, not only during scheduled progress sessions or reports. Parents need the ability to respond and question student grades in the evening hours (D'Orio, 2000). To meet the requirements of increased student achievement for NCLB, schools are required to find ways to allow parents to become more of a part of their child's educational experience. The classroom learning has to be extended in the home, which can be facilitated with teacher use in technology. Homework is a factor in encouraging parental involvement in student work. Teachers using Internet- based programs that share homework assignments and
9 provide interaction through e-mail facilitate a parent's ability to participate in the extension of the lesson (Battle-Bailey, 2004) . The use of a SDIS will provide more detailed instruction and direction for parents to view and assist their child in its successful completion. The ability to gather information regarding future assignments in the classroom can also enable parents to help the child organize and structure the work process to increase success (Lynch 2004). Not all children provide their parents with sufficient notice or explanation of classroom requirements to foster a transfer of the school learning environment to the home. There are times that parents feel inadequate in their ability to assist their child with homework and continuing classroom assignments (Gifford, 2004). Parents do not feel enough information has been transferred from the school to the home. The diocese is interested in creating an environment where all families have the opportunity to optimize their child's success. The Diocese of Metuchen has implemented the PowerSchool™ (Pearson, 2006) program and trained teachers in its use to increase communication between
10 the parents of the students and the teachers. Teacher comfort level of the PowerSchool™ program needs to be addressed to determine if it is a successful addition to increase parent participation in student academic success. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is three-fold: 1. The study intends to determine whether there is a relationship between teacher use of the PowerSchool™ program and increased communication with parents in a Catholic school system. 2. The study seeks to determine if the teacher's ability to use PowerSchool™ with ease to communicate more effectively with parents will reflect positively in student achievement. 3. The study intends to determine if the PowerSchool™ program increases teacher comfort level with technology through use of the Internet-based program. The study intends to gather information to better understand how Catholic elementary teachers feel or think about the effects of the increased communication with parents through the PowerSchool™ program and if it has any effect on student academic achievement.
11 Guiding Questions Four questions helped to guide the researcher to focus on the main participants in the study and the impact of their individual and collective roles in student academic success. The research focused on the following qualitative questions: What influence does teacher perceived comfort level (TPCL) have on actual technology use by the teachers? How does TPCL influence successful parent communication? How will the teachers use of the Internet-based SDIS program impact communication with parents with regards to the student's academic status? How does TPCL in technology encourage teachers to seek access to professional development in technology? Definitions Terms used in the dissertation are defined as follows. NCLB - No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. All schools are required to increase student achievement by a rise in standardize test scores. Elementary School - Grades Pre-K through 8 in a
12 Catholic School setting. Middle School - Separated sections of grades 6, 7, and 8 in a Catholic School. SDIS - Student Data Information System. This system is Internet-based and provides those with authorized access up-to-date grades, assignments, and attendance information. Timely-manner - in this proposal, timely-manner is defined as posting grades within one week of test or assignment and posting assignments with at least three days notice prior to due date. Grades - will be defined as alphabetic; A+,A,B,B+,C,C+,D,F in core curriculum classes. The study will look specifically at grades for the end of a quarter. Grade Scale - in the Catholic school setting, percentage points on a scale of 100 translated into a representative letter and/or + symbol; A+=97-100, A=93- 96, B+=89-92, B=85-88, C+=80-84, C=75-79, D=70-74, all grades below and including 69=F. Quarter - The school year consists of four quarters that are approximately 10 weeks each for a school year of 40 instructional weeks. Core Curriculum Classes - five specific subject
13 areas: Language Arts, Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Religion. Parental Access - for the purpose of this study, parental access requires a specific identification password and passcode to access a website that contains student data for their child. Successful Parent Communication - for the purposes of this study, successful communication with parents will be defined as teacher interaction with parent through either email, in person, or on the phone contact at least once every two weeks. Student Academic Data - this study will concentrate on the alphabetic grades students receive from assignments. TPCL - for the purpose of this study, Teacher perceived comfort level will be the individual teacher's own assessment of his/her ability to use a computer or Internet-based program with minimal anxiety. Successful parent communication- for the purpose of this study, successful parent communication is the interaction of teacher and parent in which one party addresses the questions and concerns of the other party within 24 hours through any of the following; email,
14 phone call, letter, or in-person visit. Limitations The limitations of this study are as follows: The parents' willingness to use and view the data provided on the Internet supplied by the school. Internet connection disruptions are possible when using and viewing the program from parental home or office. Teacher's being able to input grades to the program and post in the timeline required by the school. There may be possible downtime of the SDIS, PowerSchool™ (Pearson, 2006), for upgrades. There could be possible Internet connection disruptions within the school community. Changes of faculty during the school year would create the necessity of training to use the program effectively. The teachers need to be willing to attend training sessions to provide knowledge and understand how to use the PowerSchool™ (Pearson, 2006) program. Although this is a mixed methodology study, an additional limitation is the number of participants. All participants were limited to those who use the
15 program on a regular basis and who contribute numerical value grades on a quarterly basis through a report card. Kindergarten classes provide report cards to the parent; however, these are graded on a standards basis that does not use numerical equivalent values. The study is also limited by the analysis of the qualitative data by perception of the researcher. The limitations of the quantitative data are restricted to the number of respondents. It is restricted to only the 14 schools in the Diocese of Metuchen who use the program and are in various stages of using the parent access portion. Delimitations In this study of teachers in a Catholic School the researcher limited the study to 14 schools from a district of 41 elementary schools. All schools in the Diocese are required to be using the PowerSchool™ (Pearson, 2006) system by 2009-2010. The 14 schools in this study volunteered to use the program in 2006-2007. The responses of those teachers in schools who are mandated to use the program by the end of the roll-out time line might be different than those who volunteer. The participants are limited to faculty of those schools who teach grades kindergarten through grade 8
16 and have access to the Internet who use the program provided by the school. Those participating in the program at the time of the study were in different stages of use with the parent access component of PowerSchool™ (Pearson, 2006). Faculty members began using the PowerSchool™ program with different levels of technology comfort. Some participants will have used some type of a gradebook program and others have only recorded and calculated grades by hand in a written journal. High schools were not invited to participate in the study. At present each has a different SDIS and none of the six schools are using the PowerSchool™ program. Significance of the Study School communities are consistently looking for avenues to increase student achievement and academic success. It is generally accepted that partnership with parents increases the success of the child in early education. As children become more independent, parents are not included as they were in the early years (Newman, 1997). Student success drops in proportion as the child matures in the school system. Middle school students increase academic success with
17 parent-teacher sharing positive strategies to support their learning (Wright & Willis, 2003.) Communication increases in the last few years have shown enhancement of student achievement through phone calls, notes home, and in the last several years, e-mails. Although these avenues do increase parent-teacher communication it may not be at a time in the grading period to influence a positive change in the child's average (D'Orio, 2000). According to Nielsen's net ratings over 75% of United States homes have Internet access as stated in March 2004 (Nielsen, 2004). In the Diocese of Metuchen, 99% of the schools have Internet access available for use for teachers, 92% in the classroom as of June 2006. Some families may have access at work if they do not have the Internet available to them in their homes. Libraries and other community arenas have Internet access available for public use. Use of Internet-based programs is becoming an important avenue of communication for all involved in the education of the child. This study will track teacher comfort level with the use of technology in the classroom, use of a specific SDIS system, PowerSchool™ (Pearson, 2006), and the teacher's perception of increased student academic
18 success with ease of parent communication. The ability to share data over the Internet is in its early stages of definition. At present in the diocese it is limited to assignments, grades, attendance, and access to a daily bulletin. Our diocese has started the process of implementation with 14 of its 41 schools. This study may be used in the future to further analysis the long term qualitative and quantitative effects of data shared between teacher and parent from early childhood grades. Rationale and Theoretical Framework In the 21st century many changes outside of education have great impact on changes needed in the field. Included in those factors are: Families. Not only have the number of dual working families increased in the last 20 years, the numbers of single parent families have increased significantly as well. These families are also affected by the decrease in extended families living in close proximity to assist in daily living and child-raising needs. Microelectronics. Education needs to keep up with technologic advancements and provide the professional development and encouragement for teachers to use these tools to facilitate learning for students.
19 A change in the Workplace. Education provides knowledge for students to eventually enter the work world. Educators must change curriculum delivery to address the needs of students to be technological savvy and to become more self-directed. Globalization. Students need to be able to use skills to compete in a globalized economy. Technology has provided access to people from all over the world to compete for job positions that were once only available to those who lived locally. Increasing the ability for teachers to communicate on a regular basis in more opportune timeframes with parents and students can affect positively in a cognitive framework. Jean Piaget, through his works starting in the 1920's (Montangero et al, 2007) developed a number of key concepts that relate to the behaviors of students when learning becomes a seamless interaction between home and school. The Three Stage Processing Model entails input, short term memory, and finally long term memory. As parents reinforce lessons from school on a daily basis it increases information retention rates. Using practice effects can not only increase retention of knowledge, it can also help the learner relate the information to other contexts and
20 increase critical thinking skills (Good and Brophy, 1990) . Outline of the Study This study is outlined as follows: Chapter I includes the introduction, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, guiding questions, significance of the study, limitations and delimitations, and definitions. Chapter II includes a review of the literature including the effect of parent involvement, accessibility to assignments and grades on the internet through SDIS, methods of teacher communication, and how technology professional development increases teacher usage as a form of communication. Chapter III is the methodology and describes the design of the study. An overview will be present for the qualitative and quantitative designs as well as the methods of sampling and instrumentation. Data collection and analysis will be defined. Chapter IV provides tables, raw data and graphs which will sum up the results of the surveys. Chapter V contains a discussion of the conclusion and interpretation of the results as well as providing insight for future studies. Appendices will contain tables, ANOVA tables, survey instruments, and documentation letters.
21 Chapter II LITERATURE REVIEW When children are surrounded by adults and communities that value education, they get the message that their education is important. (Riley, 1995). This chapter presents a review of the literature on the importance of cementing the School-Home bond in student academic success; parent-teacher communication, parent involvement, Internet access to student grades and assignments, teacher communication, classroom use and technology integration, and professional development. An overview of The National Education Technology Plan 2003 will also be presented. On January 8, 2007, President George W. Bush met with Congress to mark the fifth anniversary of the signing of the No Child Left Behind Act. President Bush plans to reauthorize the Act, stating: "This country needs to get it right when it comes to public education, and the bill that I was honored to sign is an important first step toward making sure every child