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Final Report The Qualitative Study of Community Opinions on Parental Engagement in the Schools of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Northwest Corridor March 2014


ISSN:  Pending     Executive  Summary  of  the  Final  Report  on  the  Qualitative  Study  of  Community   Opinions  on  Parental  Engagement  in  Schools  in  Charlotte,  North  Carolina’s   Northwest  Corridor     Katrina  L.  Bledsoe,  Ph.D.,  Author   Education  Development  Center,  Inc.     Northwest  Corridor  Working  Paper  Series   A  publication  of  Smith  Institute  for  Applied  Research   Johnson  C.  Smith  University,  Charlotte,  North  Carolina   March  2014  

Acknowledgements Immense thanks and gratitude to the publisher and funder of this working paper: Johnson C. Smith University, the Smith Institute for Applied Research, and Dr. Diane Bowles, Vice President, Government Sponsored Programs and Research & Executive Director of the Smith Institute for Applied Research. Thanks to the invaluable cooperation of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, West Charlotte High School, Indaba Council of Elders, community activists, participating parents, and the attendees of the Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium. Special thanks and gratitude to Johnson C. Smith University President, Dr. Ronald Carter, for his continued vision and support of this work.

Smith Institute for Applied Research Johnson C. Smith University 100 Beatties Ford Road Charlotte, NC 28216 704.378.1202


Executive Summary Purpose of the Executive Summary The purpose of this document is to provide a concise summary of the findings from a qualitative study of vested Charlotte, North Carolina Northwest Corridor constituents’ opinions concerning parental engagement in the educational pursuits of students in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). It is designed to provide interested communities a general understanding of the issues underlying parental engagement in schools, and the work in which Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is contributing to help foster engagement on a community level. Historical Background of the Parental Engagement Initiative With the hiring of Dr. Ronald Carter JCSU’s President in 2008, a community-focused agenda was launched. In particular his goals were to: a) foster a collaborative partnership with the Northwest Corridor, and b) serve as the information center concerning research (specifically, participatory action research) on the activities and concerns of the community in the Corridor. To demonstrate this agenda, President Carter instituted a variety of strategies including, opening the campus to the community, representing the University at community coalitions and events, and developing and engaging in a participatory action research agenda focused primarily on the Northwest Corridor. Background Literature on Parental Engagement in Schools Research indicates that parental engagement is multifaceted1. For instance, parental engagement has been shown to have an effect on children’s educational and socio-emotional outcomes. Work by Dr. Karen Mapp of Harvard University and her colleagues2, has emphasized that engagement and involvement at the family level are crucial to encouraging and fostering student success. Their guide to fostering collaborative family-school partnerships is detailed in their seminal work, Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships. The Present Study The present study was part of a four-pronged approach: a) participatory action research, b) development of tools and practices that could be actively used by the community, c) community engagement involvement, and d) community collaboration. This qualitative work served to address the first strategy of the agenda by assessing the opinions of Northwest Corridor residents of the Charlotte community to ascertain a cohesive understanding of parental engagement in education.

                                                                                                               

Goodall, J. (2013). Parental belief and parental engagement: How do they interact? Journal of Beliefs & Values, 34, 87-99. Lowe, K & Dotterer, A. (2013) Parental monitoring, parental warmth, and minority youths’ academic outcomes: Exploring the integrative model of parenting. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 1413-1425. 2 Henderson, A., Mapp, K., Johnson, V. & Davies, D. (2007) Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to FamilySchool Partnerships. New York, NY: The New Press. 1

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Table 1. JCSU Community Focused Agenda Strategies 1. 2. 3. 4.

JCSU Community Focused Agenda Strategies Participatory action research Development of tools and practices that can be actively used by the community Community engagement involvement Community collaboration

Research Questions and Study Question Categories Two research questions guided the work on this study. The first was, what are the varying perspectives on parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor? The second was, what strategies can be enacted to increase parental engagement in communities? In addition, there were several categories that guided study question development. These are illustrated in the table below. Table 2. Study Categories 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Study Categories History of CMS and the Northwest Corridor Challenges and successes of CMS and the Northwest Corridor Parental engagement Culture and climate of the Northwest Corridor JCSU’s collaboration with the Northwest Corridor

Method Two research questions guided the work on this study. The first was, what are the varying perspectives on parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor? The second was, what strategies can be enacted to increase parental engagement in communities? In addition, there were several categories that guided study question development. These are illustrated in the table below. Participants An available sample of forty-eight individuals participated in the study. Participants were from Charlotte, North Carolina and included high school students in grades 9-12 from West Charlotte High School (N = 24); parents from the Northwest Corridor community (N = 14); Charlotte Mecklenburg School District personnel ranging from school principals to the district superintendent (N = 7); and JCSU administration and staff ranging from the University President to the administration of the Smith Institute for Applied Research (N = 3). See Table 3 for the illustrative breakdown.

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Table 3. Number of Study Participants by Category

Study Findings The study sought to answer the two overarching research questions concerning the varying perspectives on parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor, and the strategies that can be enacted to increase engagement in the Northwest Corridor community. QUESTION ONE: What are the varying perspectives on parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor? Findings summary. Gaining a general overarching definition of parental engagement proved somewhat challenging with respondents using involvement and engagement interchangeably. However, all participant groups coalesced on the point that parental engagement was not the responsibility of one single group, but of all groups that includes parents, teachers, students, and community members. That is, parental engagement is a collaborative activity and a relationship between all invested parties. QUESTION TWO: What strategies can be enacted to increase parental engagement in communities? Findings summary. Respondents stated that the discussion of parental engagement seemed to be ongoing and somewhat stagnate; thus the desire was to begin to provide concrete and actionable strategies that can foster engagement. Interview and focus group participants offered a wide variety of strategies to increase parental as well as community engagement between the schools and parents. Although each participant group suggested a variety of strategies, it was noted that these would need to be carried out in a collaborative manner, guided by those entities that have resources to lead engagement efforts.

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Discussion The qualitative study of parental engagement served to provide a general “big picture” understanding of the perspectives and thoughts of the Charlotte, North Carolina Northwest Corridor including parents and students, and the administrations from CMS and JCSU. As expected and desired, the study provided an opportunity to hear a variety of perspectives concerning parental engagement, and to see what actionable strategies might be suggested from study constituents. While participants were happy to focus on parental engagement, it was recognized that a series of factors had to be acknowledged in providing a definition, and by extension, subsequently suggesting an action-oriented pathway upon which to follow. To that end, the results indicated several issues that impede the engagement of parents, students, and Northwest Corridor residents. Factors include continued institutional and social racism, disparities in socio-economic status, lack of community responsibility for insuring success in education, disparities in educational opportunities for minorities, and individual and personal responsibility for one’s educational success. See Table 4 for a listing of factors that impede parental engagement in education. Table 4. Listing of Factors that Impede Parental Engagement in Education 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Listing of Factors Continued institutional and social racism Disparities in socio-economic status Lack of community responsibility for insuring success in education Disparities in educational opportunities for minorities Individual and personal responsibility for one’s educational success

Reflections from Conversations at the Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium The Smith Institute for Applied Research’s Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium focused on results from both the parental engagement qualitative opinion study and the quantitative behavioral study of the 2013 MayFest event. The two study presentations, as well as that of Dr. Mapp generated a free-flowing discussion that further corroborated the data obtained from the qualitative study. Two main themes, 1) community and family involvement versus singular parental engagement, and 2) moving toward action-oriented steps, were central to the discussion, and provided additional support for continued movement towards community-based strategies to foster family and community engagement in schools. See Table 5 for a summary of the themes.

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Table 5. Summary of Symposium Discussion Themes Symposium Theme #1: Community and family involvement versus parental engagement • Symposium attendees expressed that while engagement is indeed a parent’s individual responsibility, the need was to move to family involvement, supported, enabled, and engaged by the larger community. In short, attendees saw engagement as a community responsibility. • Symposium attendees noted that a closer relationship was desired with CMS, but wanted to engage in a bottom-up collaboration, rather than be recipients of a top-down approach. • CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison echoed this sentiment and indicated that CMS was committed to increasing the strategies that the district takes to not only be collaborative, but also work in a community-focused manner. Symposium Theme #2: Moving toward to action-oriented steps • Although symposium attendees were extremely receptive to the study findings and felt confident that research corroborated their thoughts and informal discussions, they also noted that agenda needed to move from research to action. • The work of Dr. Mapp provides actionable strategies that can be implemented to foster engagement and involvement. • Community members expressed the desire to participate in the discussions of what strategies are realistic and can be accomplished. Recommendations Given the results of the study, informal conversations with community members, post-study reflections, and conversations from the community participants attending the Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium, there are several recommendations that are suggested for moving forward on the agenda of increasing parental engagement in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and in the Northwest Corridor in general. See Table 6 below for the listing of recommendations.

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Table 6. Listing of Recommendations Recommendations 1. Consider the issue of parental engagement as multifaceted (i.e., moving from the singular view of parental engagement to that of family involvement and engagement) and use a variety of strategies to insure its success. 2. Engage in earnest conversations about the successes and challenges in CMS and within the Northwest Corridor. 3. Consider the cultural context and understand the sociopolitical issues that influence it. 4. Continue to advertise and market the activities of JCSU and establish the University as a collaborative partner with CMS as well as the Northwest Corridor. 5. Continue participatory action research on the topic of how to continue to foster family involvement and engagement in the Northwest Corridor. Future Directions The Qualitative Study of Community Opinions on Parental Engagement in the Northwest Corridor Research Initiative is the first in a broader portfolio that includes a long-term agenda of developing activities designed to increase family and community engagement and establishing model strategies for JCSU to work with the residents of the Charlotte, North Carolina community. Two directions have been suggested for moving forward, 1) dissemination of research findings, and 2) continued research on parental engagement and its associated factors. See Table 7 for the summary of future directions.

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Table 7. Summary of Future Directions Future Direction #1: Dissemination of research findings • Continue to disseminate results within the JCSU community as well as the more communityfocused Smith Institute for Applied Research Annual Symposium. • Develop publications and written reports designed for the larger Charlotte community. These include but are not limited to working papers, white papers and journal articles. • Present to a wide variety of audiences such as those that attend local conferences and community forums. • Have the Johnson C. Smith University sponsored Indaba Council of Elders serve as a conduit for issues that face students, families, and community members of the Northwest Corridor, and within the CMS school district. Future Direction #2: Continued research on parental engagement • The Smith Institute for Applied Research is sponsoring a request for research proposals that provide funding to faculty-initiated projects that address parental engagement and family involvement in schools within the Charlotte Northwest Corridor to a) engage the community, and b) begin to establish JCSU as the resource center and gate-keeper of research on Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor. • Actively engage parents in the process of reflecting upon and assessing the schools in which their students attend. This work begins in the spring of 2014 and is being conducted in collaboration with CMS. Concluding Remark The parental engagement study was designed to provide a general understanding of the opinions of the parents, students, schools, and Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor, and how these entities interact with one another. It is hoped that this initiative will foster a long-standing agenda that promotes continued collaborations and further study in the Northwest Corridor.

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Table of Contents Executive Summary ............................................................................................................ 3 Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................. 10 List of Tables and List of Appendices ............................................................................................ 11 Purpose of the Report ...................................................................................................................... 12 Section 1. Introduction and Purpose of the Study ............................................................ 12 Historical Background of the Parental Engagement Project ........................................ 12 Brief Background Literature on Parental Engagement in Schools............................... 13 The Present Study ............................................................................................................... 14 Purpose of the Request for Work ..................................................................................... 15 Section 2. Study Procedures and Research Activities ........................................................ 15 Research Questions and Study Question Categories ..................................................... 15 Research Questions ............................................................................................................. 15 Study Question Categories ................................................................................................ 15 Method ................................................................................................................................. 16 Interview Protocol ................................................................................................. 16 Focus Group Protocol ........................................................................................... 16 Participants .......................................................................................................................... 17 Study Procedures ................................................................................................................ 17 Data Analysis Strategy ........................................................................................................ 18 Section 3. Study Findings ................................................................................................... 18 Research Questions ............................................................................................................. 18 Question One....................................................................................................................... 18 Findings Summary................................................................................................. 18 Interview Findings with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’ Administration ....................................................................................................... 19 Focus Group Findings with Students .................................................................. 20 Focus Group Findings with Parents .................................................................... 20 Interview Findings with Johnson C. Smith University’s Administration ..... 21 Question Two ...................................................................................................................... 22 Findings Summary................................................................................................. 22 Interview Findings with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’ Administration ....................................................................................................... 22 Focus Group Findings with Students .................................................................. 23 Focus Group Findings with Parents .................................................................... 24 Interview Findings with Johnson C. Smith University’s Administration ..... 24 Section 4. Discussion of the Findings ................................................................................ 25 Section 5. Reflections from Conversations at the Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium............................................ 26 Section 6. Recommendations ............................................................................................. 27 Section 7. Future Directions and Concluding Remark ..................................................... 30 References.......................................................................................................................................... 32 Appendices ........................................................................................................................................ 33

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List of Report Tables and Figures Table 1.

Study Sub-Question Categories

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Figure 1.

Number of Study Participants by Category

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Table 2.

Study Recommendations

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List of Appendices Appendix A. Listening Group Discussion Questions-Parents

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Appendix B. Listening Group Discussion Questions-Students

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Appendix C. Interview Protocol – Select Johnson C. Smith University Administration

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Appendix D. Interview Protocol – Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Administrators

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Final Report on the Qualitative Study of Community Opinions on Parental Engagement in Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina’s Northwest Corridor Purpose of the Report The purpose of this report is to disseminate the findings from a qualitative study conducted with Charlotte, North Carolina Northwest Corridor residents, to ascertain their opinions concerning perceptions of parental engagement in the educational pursuits of students in Charlotte Mecklenburg County Schools. The study took place over a period of five months, beginning in July 2013 and ending November 2013. This report is considered a follow-up to the briefing report, which was presented at the Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium in November, 2013. The current document details the premises, activities, results, reflections, recommendations of the study, as well as suggested future directions. Subsequent reports may be in the form of executive summaries, oral presentations, and the publication of working papers, white papers and/or scholarly journal articles, The proceeding sections cover the following: (a) the background of the project, (b) study procedures activities, (c) findings from the study, (d) observations and reflections from the community presentation at the Smith Institute of Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium, (e) recommendations; and finally (e) future directions for the research agenda. Section 1. Introductions and Purpose of the Study Historical Background of the Parental Engagement Project Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is a premier independent new urban University in the center of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Northwest Corridor. Having been part of the Charlotte community since 1867, the University has provided education to Charlotte as well as other state, national, and international residents with a focus on developing and graduating primarily (although not singularly) urban Black professionals. Despite this illustrious reputation, the University and Northwest Corridor resident “Town-Gown” relations were considered distant, with JCSU having been described as being somewhat removed and uninvolved with community concerns. With the hiring of Dr. Ronald Carter as the University’s President in 2008, a community-focused agenda was launched, with Dr. Carter expressing a desire to make service and commitment to community “a primary mission”. In particular his goals were to a) foster a collaborative partnership with residents and stakeholders of the Northwest Corridor, and b) serve as the information epicenter concerning research (specifically, participatory action research) on the activities and concerns of the Corridor’s residents, small businesses, and other institutions. To demonstrate this agenda, President Carter instituted a variety of strategies including, opening the campus to the community, and representing the University at community coalitions and events, engaging CMS and its superintendent, and developing and executing a participatory action research agenda focused primarily on the Northwest Corridor. To assist in facilitating these strategies and the larger plan, Dr. Carter assembled and brought together an 12

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Indaba Council of Elders (a community-based and community–focused group that gathers to share ideas and work together towards the common good) to work closely with one another, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, the Northwest Corridor, and JCSU to provide support, service, and leadership to the Charlotte community. In late 2012, the Indaba Council of Elders identified the issue of increasing parental engagement in schools as one of its key priorities. This priority came to the forefront in response to the Gallup Poll Study of Charlotte and subsequent follow-up study by the Knight Foundation focusing on the “Soul of the Northwest Corridor”, the hiring of the new but responsive CMS school superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison, and the need to continually increase test scores among students of all grade levels and backgrounds particularly in light of the institution of the Common Core State Standards. Brief Background Literature on Parental Engagement in Schools The topic of parental engagement and specifically, parental engagement in schools is not a new one. Engagement by parents has been cited as a key impact factor as to how students will perform in school and eventually, become good civic-minded and successful citizens (e.g., Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2007). Yet, even under the best circumstances of what might be considered good and appropriate engagement, parental engagement can still falter. What is defined as engagement seems to imply a value judgment of what is considered correct and productive engagement. As well, it is difficult to discern how much parental engagement is enough and in what manner parents should be engaged to insure educational success. The Gallup Poll study indicated that Charlotte community members seemed to place less emphasis on educational pursuits than on other community concerns. However, the Knight Foundation’s follow-up study, “Soul of the Northwest Corridor”, which specifically analyzed Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor found that parents do indeed value educational pursuits. Thus, the issue for JCSU, the Indaba Council of Elders, CMS, and the residents of the Northwest Corridor has been to identify ways parental engagement can be fostered to encourage successful academic performance of students and pursuant of advanced educational goals. Research indicated that parental and family engagement is multifaceted (e.g., Goodall, 2013; Lowe & Dotterer, 2013). For instance, parental engagement has been shown to have an effect on children’s educational and socio-emotional outcomes. Researchers such as Low and Dotterer (2013) found that the relationship between parental monitoring and parental engagement is important to students’ academic and developmental outcomes, especially for racial and ethnic minority students. This finding is further corroborated by the work of Clark, Sheridan, Kim, Kupzyk, Knoche, Ranson, and Sjuts (2012). Clarke et al, found in their Getting Ready Program intervention that “at risk” students demonstrated an increase in social and emotional competencies as well as language and literacy skills when parental engagement was increased. Work by Karen Mapp and her colleagues (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2007), has consistently shown that engagement and involvement is crucial to encouraging and fostering student success in and outside of the classroom. Their guide to fostering a family-school partnership is detailed in their seminal work, Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships. Although research has found that parents’ engagement in students educational pursuits is key to successful performance, among other aspects, the term “engagement” carries a different A publication of Smith Institute for Applied Research at Johnson C. Smith University - SmithInstitute.JCSU.edu

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denotative as well as connotative meaning than involvement, and suggests that at the very least, almost a psychological and emotional presence, if not a concrete physical one (e.g., Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2007). No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards define parental engagement as involvement, consisting of the following: a) assisting in the child’s learning; b) being actively involved in the child’s education at school; c) serving as full partners in the child’s education and being included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of the child; and d) the carrying out of other activities such as but not limited to, outreach (NCLB, 2014). Merriam Webster’s Oxford Dictionary (2013) defines engagement as a meshing with, involvement of, and intense attention. Yet parental engagement is influenced by several indicators including but not limited to, relationships and contexts (Henderson, et al, 2007). These considerations undergird JCSU’s quest for discerning the most appropriate and accurate understanding of parental engagement as it relates to, and is defined by, Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor. The Present Study As part of the participatory action research and community agenda, JCSU’s Indaba Council of Elders began grappling with the topic of parental engagement in the fall of 2012. Initial conversations were in reaction to the Soul of the Northwest Corridor Study and beliefs by participants as well as other constituents that the results of the Gallup Poll Study and subsequent follow-up by the Knight Foundation had, at the very least, a kernel of truth. This was especially disconcerting to community members who were concerned that this might be a phenomenon among low income and/or community of color residents who reside in the Northwest Corridor. These groups in particular had been perceived as not being as engaged in educational pursuits as they were with other community-level concerns. Additionally, issues of culture, race, and continued segregation and discrimination in general, as well as the school system, permeated initial conversations. Although the interest has been on increasing parental engagement, after several community forums it became clear that there was little consensus on what was considered engagement (or involvement for that matter). Thus began several conversations about what JCSU could do to further what was clearly an important topic and one that was also a multifaceted and complex one. The study is part of a four-level approach that includes a) participatory action research, b) development of tools and practices that can be actively used by the community, (c) community engagement involvement, and (d) community collaboration. The current qualitative study served to address the first aspect of the agenda by assessing the opinions of the residents of Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor to try to ascertain a cohesive understanding of parental engagement in education.

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Purpose of the Request for Work Dr. Diane Bowles, Vice President of Government Sponsored Programs and Research and Executive Director of the Smith Institute for Applied Research of JCSU, commissioned the work. Through an ongoing collaborative relationship between JCSU and Education Development Center, Inc.’s Dr. Katrina L. Bledsoe, Senior Consultant and Senior Evaluation Specialist, EDC was asked to conduct a qualitative opinion/needs assessment study designed to provide a better understanding of how various Northwest Corridor members view parental engagement in schools, and their perceptions of the needs of the community. Section 2. Study Procedures and Research Activities Research Questions and Study Question Categories Research Questions As mentioned previously, although JCSU, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, the Indaba Council of Elders and other stakeholders expressed several informal and anecdotal theories as to how parental engagement in schools occurred and/or should occur in the Northwest Corridor, there was a lack of consensus of what comprised parental engagement, and what strategies should be conducted to encourage such engagement. Given the aforementioned there were two research questions that guided the work on this study: 1. What are the varying perspectives on parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor? 2. What strategies can be enacted to increase parental engagement in communities? These qualitative exploratory and descriptive questions were designed to (a) provide participants an opportunity to discuss a wide range of related topics, and (b) allow for a variety of opinions to be heard within the community. Study Question Categories To address the research questions, study items were divided into five categories. Each question had one to five “probe” questions that allowed participants to further elaborate on their answers. The five categories are listed in Table 1 below. Table 1. Study Categories 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Study Categories History of CMS and the Northwest Corridor Challenges and successes of CMS and the Northwest Corridor Parental engagement Culture and climate of the Northwest Corridor JCSU’s collaboration with the Northwest Corridor

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These categories were designed to provide an overall context and understanding of the Northwest Corridor and CMS, and to provide an understanding of how parental engagement in schools is viewed among the various invested constituents. Although the categories and topics were identical across participant groups, specific questions were adapted to address the uniqueness of each respondent group. See Appendices A-D for specific questions of each participant group. Method To address the research questions listed above, it was determined in consult with JCSU that qualitative methodology and methods should be used. Using such methodology and methods provides a robust and contextual understanding of the perceived issues rather than simply providing numerical data without interpretation. To this end, both interviews with key constituents (such as Title I officials, associated JCSU faculty, staff, and administrative participants, and select CMS officials and administrators) and discussion groups with parents and students were conducted. Interview protocol. Ten interviews, three with JCSU administration and staff, and seven with CMS administration were conducted in July 2013 and October 2013. The interview protocol was semi-structured to insure that the key topics would be covered but also allow participants to provide a wide variety of observations and perspectives. Protocols ranged from 12 to 20 questions depending on the participant and contained a number of probes to help facilitate the conversation. Sample questions included but were not limited to, “Please tell me a little bit about your understanding of the history of CMS and the Northwest Corridor.” “How would you define parental engagement?” and “Please describe the culture of the Northwest Corridor.” Interviews ranged from 30 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes and were held at the JCSU campus and at CMS headquarters. Focus group protocol. Two focus groups, one with parents and one with students were held in community settings within the Northwest Corridor. Similar to the interview protocol, the focus group protocol was semi-structured to insure that the key topics would be covered but also allow participants to provide a wide variety of observations and perspectives. Focus group protocols also ranged from 12 to 20 questions depending on the participant group and contained a number of probes to help facilitate the discussion. Similar to the interview guide, sample questions included but were not limited to, “Please tell me a little bit about your understanding of the history of the Northwest Corridor.” “How would you define parental engagement?” and “Please describe the culture of the Northwest Corridor.” Both groups were approximately one hour and were held at West Charlotte High School (student group), and a prominent community member of the Indaba Council of Elder’s home (parent group).

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Participants An available sample of forty-eight individuals participated in the study. Participants were from Charlotte, North Carolina and included high school students in grades 9-12 from West Charlotte High School (N = 24); parents from the Northwest Corridor (N = 14); Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools personnel ranging from school principals to the district superintendent (N = 7); and JCSU administration ranging from the University President to the Director and the administration of the Smith Institute for Applied Research (N = 3). Please see Figure 1 below for the breakdown of participants. Figure 1. Number of Study Participants by Category

Study Procedures Interviews and focus groups took place over a five-month period and occurred in person, although one interview was conducted via teleconference to accommodate the schedule of the interviewee. Interviews were conducted onsite during the workweek at CMS and JCSU. Focus groups were conducted at West Charlotte High School during students’ lunch period, and in the evening in an Indaba member’s home. Due to the timing of the focus groups, a lunch or dinner was served to accommodate the participants’ scheduled routine. To insure accuracy of answers, all interviews and groups were tape-recorded. All interviewees and focus group respondents verbally provided their consent to engage in the conversation after the interviewer and focus group moderator read the study procedures and consent form. Consent was based upon agreement to share knowledge with the study, being tape recorded (confidentiality was assured), questions being asked, benefits of the study, main stakeholders, and the ability of the participant to conclude the interview at any time without consequence.

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Data Analysis Strategy A qualitative data analysis strategy was used to analyze the data. Specifically, data were analyzed using a “recursive abstraction� technique. A recursive abstraction strategy allows for data to be iteratively summarized without coding, until a general, more compact summary of the data is discerned. The advantage of this technique is that it allows for a quicker analysis of the data and shortens the timeframe for reporting. That said the data were initially summarized then resummarized an additional time. Notes taken by the researcher, recorded conversations, and oral conversations, both formal and informal with community members, JCSU administration and staff, as well as CMS officials, informed these additional summaries. These summaries were used to address each of the research questions, as well as the study question categories.

Section 3. Study Findings As mentioned in earlier sections of this report, this study sought to answer the two exploratory research questions concerning the varying perspectives on parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor, and the strategies that can be enacted to increase parental engagement in communities. To address these questions, several sub-categories were developed including, (a) the history of CMS and the Northwest Corridor, (b) challenges and successes of CMS and the Northwest Corridor, (c) parental engagement, (d) the culture and climate of the Northwest Corridor, and (e) JCSU’s collaboration with the Northwest Corridor. In this section, results are presented by question and respondent type, and quotes are provided as needed to illustrate the finding. Research Questions The research questions for this project were designed to gather descriptive and qualitative information that can establish a foundation upon which future participatory action research projects can be developed. The next section details findings from interviews with CMS and JCSU administrations, and focus groups with students and parents on the two questions of interest. A findings summary of each question and then a summary finding of each respondent group are presented. QUESTION ONE: What are the varying perspectives on parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor? Findings summary. Gaining a general overarching definition of parental engagement was somewhat challenging; respondents used the terms involvement and engagement interchangeably. However, all participant groups coalesced on the point that parental engagement was not the responsibility of one single group, but of all groups that included parents, teachers, CMS, students, and community members. That is, parental engagement is a collaborative activity and a relationship between all invested parties. While the details might vary, all respondent groups felt that CMS and teachers were as responsible for engaging parents as the families, and should enact strategies that encouraged collaboration between all parties. Respondents agreed that while there was a level of individual responsibility that must be borne by parents, and in some cases, parents had not shown as much of an interest in educational pursuits

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as much as others, lack of engagement sometimes stemmed from ancillary issues. These issues included parents’ previous educational experiences as well as perceived continued discrimination, and cultural differences. Some participants opined that before engagement could be fostered, larger conversations about race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status needed to occur. Student respondents further contended that sometimes getting their parents engaged was difficult because of the aforementioned issues, and felt that parental engagement was not only a parent’s and the school’s responsibility, but the student’s as well. A quote from a student respondent underscores the finding. “I think of parent engagement as an interaction and relationship between parents and their children and teachers, and them being involved in their school and their extra-curricular activities.” – Student Respondent Interview findings with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’ administration. Interview data from CMS administration indicated that the district does understand the issue of trying to engage parents in the educational system and they expressed a sincere desire to work with parents. Most indicated that they had personally instituted strategies within their schools and classrooms that were designed to foster a collaborative relationship. When asked what they considered to be parental engagement, respondents overwhelmingly saw it as a collaborative, reciprocal relationship between families and schools. An illustrative quote is provided below. “Family engagement is parents being able to communicate with and to schools on behalf of their child; engagement means you’re participating in a two way-dialog and communication, and schools have a distinct responsibility, as do families, to work to facilitate that engagement.” – CMS Administration Respondent CMS officials did note that issues with “history” such as reduced state and local funding, and the sometimes-strained cultural relationships between groups can and does challenge schools’ ability to engage parents and/or the community. “We came about during the CHOICE Era, during the time when we were making the decision of not using race to diversify schools. It really showed what the values were, and how committed we were to diversifying. And in many ways, some would say, CHOICE re-segregated the schools system. It was an interesting time in Charlotte. As you know, Charlotte was the first school district to desegregate…. We are as a community, racially attuned, we are aware. Race is something that we talk a lot about, we talk, talk, talk about race…We are tackling issues related to racial equity in schools.” – CMS Administration Respondent Nonetheless, participants indicated a sincere desire to work with parents and students, and reiterated that the larger administrative agenda was to bring CMS together throughout Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor and beyond.

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Focus group findings with students. Although students provided a succinct definition of parent engagement (see summary section), focus group findings indicated that they felt somewhat ambivalent about parental engagement; many saw it as parental monitoring, thus indicating that they didn’t always support that level of collaboration between schools and families. Participants cited the need to have a level of independence as they continued to progress through high school. This was qualified by comments from students who indicated that sometimes their parents were embarrassingly uninformed (which could likely be considered part of an adolescent developmental phase). To that end, many group respondents said that they would like parents to have a better understanding of what is needed to succeed at the secondary and postsecondary levels. “I know people who don’t want their parents to come to school because they’re just so uninformed and they’re embarrassing. They don’t want their parents to be seen by other students or the teachers because they [parents] don’t know and they’re [students] afraid to be associated.” – Student Respondent Students also noted that they were aware of the cultural divide in educational opportunities that Northwest Corridor residents endured, in comparison to other communities, and that this “divide” was also acknowledged by their parents. They acknowledged that cultural differences also affected parental engagement. “I think in our community, we’re not always pushed to succeed in the manner that they might be in a school like Hopewell. I should say they [White people] want us to succeed but they don’t want us to do better than them. And that makes it harder to succeed” – Student Respondent That said, students provided a unique perspective in defining the term; participants felt that for true engagement to occur, students, as well as parents, CMS, and the community needed to be involved. They noted that students and parents needed to be actively informed to facilitate engagement that would foster student progress and success. “Parents don’t always have the knowledge to know what you need to do to succeed…they do want to support you, and I think that they want to know but are just not sure what to do. That’s why it’s important for families, students, and teachers to talk. Like, I sometimes feel the pressure to do this by myself and my mom knows it’s stressful but she doesn’t always know how to support me.” – Student Respondent Focus group findings with parents. Participants who were part of the parent focus group indicated that parental engagement was not only a family affair but also a community affair. In many ways, parents tried to distinguish between involvement and engagement but more often than not, ended up using the terms interchangeably. Group participants felt strongly that parents have an immense responsibility to be involved in students’ everyday lives in general, not just their educational pursuits. To that end, parents needed to pursue individual responsibility and proactivity.

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“I try really hard to be involved in my child’s education; it sometimes requires me to leave my job and be present. Because some of these schools, they just assume that if you’re from a Title 1 school, you’re just not as concerned, you’re just not present.” – Parent Respondent Respondents recounted stories in which some parents did not engage with schools in a responsible manner, and indicated that this made it difficult to gain credibility with school personnel as being a conscientious and participatory parent. Parents also desired to be engaged and involved with students’ educational pursuits, and wanted a greater understanding of available educational resources in order to support the schools. Despite this desire, several factors prevented them from doing so at the level they desired. These include lack of time due to family and employment commitments, lack of connection with the schools and school personnel, and their own previous educational experiences, some of which were not positive. Finally, they also noted that there is an issue of equity based upon race; many perceive that some schools have access to fewer resources than others. An illustrative quote is provided below. “We’re facing low expectations, perceptions of failure that we’re just getting by. Look, if you live on the south and the north side of the city, the message is totally different…there’s a disparity that I can go to one side of the city, in the very same school system and can get treated completely different.” – Parent Respondent Interview findings with Johnson C. Smith University’s administration. Interviews with JCSU administration focused on the desire to help the Northwest Corridor in a participatory manner, and to facilitate the Indaba Council of Elder’s agenda of fostering parental engagement in Charlotte schools. Part of facilitating the Indaba’s agenda includes developing a partnership with CMS; to this end a close relationship has developed between the President of JCSU and the Superintendent of CMS. Like other respondent groups, JSCU interviewees reiterated that parental engagement was a multifaceted issue, one that required a, “it takes a village” perspective. It is also considered a collaborative partnership that best succeeds when there is a personal relationship. Although interviewees had certainly heard a variety of perspectives concerning engagement in informal settings, and what is valued as the correct process and level of such engagement, they noted that the goal of participatory action research is to allow the community to define parental engagement and to facilitate that definition and subsequent agenda. “You see I don’t have a definition of parental engagement. I’d really like to hear what the parents want to tell us is parental engagement. I want the parents to tell me what they want it to be…The eyes can only see what the mind can comprehend, I want the parents to tell us what they’d like us to do, what they want us to comprehend.” – JCSU Administrator

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Despite this desire to have the parents and Northwest Corridor to define engagement, and for JCSU to serve as a conduit, administrators were aware that there is a divide in the educational system. One respondent noted that the University did have a clear understanding of the racial divide that permeates the system, and this impinged upon developing a collaborative relationship between families, schools, and by extension, JCSU. “One of the comments from the Indaba is that cultural competence has always been an undercurrent to the whole Northwest Corridor, not just the school system. And with that conversation still having no resolve, we continue to grapple with the long standing issue of race and race relations in Charlotte, North Carolina.” – JCSU Administrator QUESTION TWO: What strategies can be enacted to increase parental engagement in communities? Findings summary. Interview and focus group participants offered a wide variety of strategies to increase parental as well as community engagement between the schools and parents. Respondents stated that the discussion of parental engagement seemed to be ongoing and somewhat stagnate; thus, the desire was to begin to develop concrete and actionable strategies that could foster engagement. Although each participant group suggested a variety of strategies, it was noted that these would need to be carried out in a collaborative manner led by those entities that have resources to do so. Suggested strategies included but were not limited to, increasing the use of non-traditional approaches to reach parents such as text messaging and social media, as well as reaching out to instigate personal relationships between families and the schools. Some respondents indicated that although the suggested strategies were already in place, others strategies should consider non-traditional avenues, and/or be culturally responsive to the context and the community. Interviews findings with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’ administration. CMS interviewees noted that efforts to engage parents could and did vary across each unique school setting. Many said that it was up to the CMS administration to set the culture and tone of engagement as well as the strategies that schools would use to work with parents and families. Participants emphasized that before any strategy could be implemented, a working and equal status relationship needed to be established. To this end, interviewees described strategies that were designed to instigate and maintain a collaborative relationship. For instance, most of the respondents admitted to placing personal calls to home, engaging in social networking (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), and instituting regular correspondence via emails. Participants also acknowledged that non-traditional ways to connect with parents needed to be considered and some noted that cultural responsiveness should be present in any strategy developed.

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“At our school, we’ve realized that you can’t use the old ways of communicating with parents. Flyers often don’t make it home, and no one has a landline anymore so we’ve started communicating by text and Facebook. There’s a lot of support for doing it [communicating] this way, but this has to be instituted into the culture of the school. And the principal has to lead that culture change charge.” – CMS Administrator Respondent While the CMS administration admitted that parental engagement was a reciprocal relationship (families to schools, schools to families), that relationship needed to be cultivated by the school. Specifically, the culture and the climate of the school district should be one that considers parents equal and necessary partners in educating its students. Several respondents mentioned that with the recent change in leadership at CMS there was increased confidence and support for development of an overarching strategy to engage all residents of Charlotte in the educational process, not just those who are in resource wealthy areas. “The Civil Rights issues that were in the 40s and 50s still continue, but we’ve made it our mission that our goal is to alleviate inequities. We still need strategies to help close the gap between the African American and Latino students and the White students” – CMS Administrator Respondent Focus group findings with students. When asked what kinds of strategies or resources should be used to engage parents of the Northwest Corridor, like other respondent groups, students suggested that a relationship between schools and families needed to be developed first. In particular, they mentioned that the most successful engagement strategies were those that specifically helped to cultivate ongoing and constant contact between parents and students. Several students noted that parents who were encouraged to attend meetings or education-based field trips by educators seemed to be more engaged and concerned. However, students also mentioned that they felt that many parents were uninformed about educational options available to students and how to leverage them (e.g., how to seek out college education institutions). To this end, students suggested that schools should, in some ways, market to parents in the same manner they would to students by hosting college information sessions and hosting parent only and parent/student field trips to local colleges. When asked if students and their parents had experience with JCSU, many noted that they knew the college existed, but they had not considered it an option for college. Students suggested that initial parent college information sessions could be conducted by JCSU in collaboration with the high school. “It’s not that the parents don’t want to be there [education focused events], we just need to spread the word, and they have to understand that there are people who are single parents and may not have a lot of time. So there has to be a way that both can exist—being respectful of their time but also getting the word out so they would come.” – Student Respondent

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Focus group findings with parents. Parent focus group respondents felt it was important to establish that they were aware that it was their personal responsibility to make sure that they stayed engaged with schools. That said, they noted that many of the strategies used by schools were often outdated, and not especially responsive to the family and economic responsibilities that parents face. However, like other respondent groups, parents reiterated that a personal relationship needed to be established before strategies could be enacted. To this end, participants noted that connecting with parents in “real-time” (rather than through flyers or parent teacher nights, for example) would increase engagement. Participants understood that schools’ schedules often conflicted with traditional workplace and work hour schedules, but did feel that some accommodation on the part of the schools was important. “I remember one time I reached out to my son’s math teacher because he had not been performing. I requested a meeting to see if we could get a sense of how to improve his grade. When I sent an email requesting a meeting, I was told that Parent Teacher conferences were in two weeks and that we could talk about the issue then. I was shocked! Here I am trying to reach out now and I’m being told two weeks before I can get an answer as to why my child is not performing?” – Parent Respondent One respondent noted that if the school could meet them half way, they could do the same. Many participants echoed this sentiment that schools and families would have to negotiate the best ways to engage families, and this should be done in a collaborative bottom-up way, rather than a top-down information-provision manner. Some suggestions included instituting ongoing and regular meetings beyond the traditional semester parent/teacher conferences, especially if parents were making efforts to engage. Interview findings with Johnson C. Smith University’s administration. Interviews with the JCSU administration focused on the manner in which JCSU has been and plans to be engaged with parents and the Northwest Corridor. In particular, the administration considered the Indaba Council of Elders as a way to continually connect JCSU with community concerns, as well as provide guidance on how to connect with parents. Respondents noted that the Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium had become a way to engage interested community members and was entering its fourth year. It was noted that the campus had transitioned from a closed campus to the community, to an open one, with activities and events such as MayFest, a parental engagement participatory action research effort being hosted on an annual basis. Participants noted that the goal was to serve the community in whatever way possible, including working with CMS to provide access to educational resources. For instance, respondents pointed to the development of a website that is specifically designed to provide educational resources, information, and tools designed to promote family engagement. Finally, it was noted that the larger Indaba agenda was focused on parental engagement, and that each research study, community event, and future dissemination piece of the project would be focused on assisting Superintendent Morrison’s agenda to build bridges between families of Charlotte, particularly those in the Northwest Corridor, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

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“Part of the Smith Institute’s focus is to conduct applied action research that is designed to focus on and inform the community. Since the president’s arrival, the agenda has always been about working and collaborating with the Northwest Corridor, schools, and with the school district. We have encouraged our faculty to engage in more action research and have provided small grants to encourage these types of research projects that engage students and engage the community.” – JCSU Administrator Section 4. Discussion of the Findings The qualitative study of parental engagement served to provide a general “big picture” understanding of the perspectives and thoughts of the Charlotte, North Carolina Northwest Corridor including parents and students, and the administrations from CMS and JCSU. As expected and desired, the study provided an opportunity to hear a variety of perspectives concerning parental engagement, and to see what actionable strategies might be suggested from study constituents. While participants were happy to focus on parental engagement, it was recognized that a series of factors had to be acknowledged in providing a definition, and by extension, subsequently suggesting an action-oriented pathway upon which to follow. To that end, the results indicated several issues that impede the engagement of parents, students, and Northwest Corridor residents. Factors include continued institutional and social racism, disparities in socio-economic status, lack of community responsibility for insuring success in education, disparities in educational opportunities for minorities, and individual and personal responsibility for one’s educational success. These factors can instigate a level of learned helplessness (a feeling and learned behavior that nothing can be accomplished because past or present circumstances continually hinder efforts). Thus, the person, or in this case, the community, does not respond, even when presented with so-called opportunities. For instance, almost all participants noted that there was continued institutional and social racism which they felt was indicated by perceived resource and educational disparities. Participant examples included budget cuts, changes in state testing standards, and re-segregation of schools. Continued racial communities tensions can hamper any engagement not only on a family but also on a community level. A second issue that became apparent throughout the entire study is how important community engagement is to residents of the Northwest Corridor, JCSU, and CMS. Participants in all groups suggested that success in education for students of the Northwest Corridor was a larger community effort, rather than an individual one and requires a concerted and coordinated set of resources. As one participant noted, the goal is to maximize all resources, which would benefit Charlotte intellectually, socially, politically, and economically. One of the challenges of increasing engagement is addressing the disparities in educational opportunities for minorities. Participants, especially students, raised the issue of availability of educational opportunities for minorities. Most participants expressed the opinion that minority students and those from the Northwest Corridor often ended up with more inexperienced and “potential” talent than more affluent areas of Charlotte. However, students felt that schools in the

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Northwest Corridor were also more focused on the success of communities of color than schools that did not have a prominent minority population. That said, the challenge seems to be in harnessing equal resources to enable students and parents to have access to the same opportunities that are available in the North or South sides of Charlotte. Finally, similar to the earlier conversations upon which the participatory action research was based, parent and student participants emphasized that parental engagement was both a community and personal responsibility. Students noted that schools provide an opportunity for them to become independent and learn to make appropriate educational and life decisions. Parent participants opined that families needed to be advocates for their children’s educational pursuits. This comes with a caveat; responsibility can only be taken when there is equity in opportunities, and there are facilitators rather than barriers, to success.

Section 5. Reflections from Conversations at the Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium The Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Symposium focused on results from both the parental engagement qualitative opinion study and the quantitative behavioral study of the 2013 MayFest event. Two presentations were given to parents, faculty, community members, CMS Staff, as well as to Superintendent Morrison, and Dr. Karen Mapp of Harvard University. The presentations, as well as that of Dr. Mapp (based upon her work on increasing family engagement and involvement in schools) generated a free-flowing discussion that further corroborated the data obtained from the qualitative study. Two main themes were central to the discussion, and provided additional support for continued movement towards community-based strategies to foster parental and community engagement in schools. • •

Community and family involvement versus singular parental engagement Moving toward action-oriented steps

Community and family involvement versus singular parental engagement Symposium attendees expressed that while engagement is indeed a parent’s individual responsibility, the need was to move to family involvement, supported, enabled, and engaged by the larger community. In short, attendees saw engagement as a community responsibility. Participants noted that in many ways, parents seemed to singularly shoulder the blame of engagement (or lack thereof) when students were not performing as well as could be expected. Yet, schools sometimes do not make the effort to meet the needs of parents and families to engage them, or to understand the unique issues that might face residents of the Northwest Corridor. Additionally, community members recounted incidents in which the schools were not as receptive to families and their needs. Examples ranged from delayed discussions on student progress, to non-response to parent requests for meetings. Symposium attendees noted that a closer relationship was desired with CMS, but wanted to engage in a bottom-up family-driven collaboration, rather than top-down information provision approach. Such an approach was needed to insure that a partnership between the Northwest Corridor and CMS would be

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developed. CMS Superintendent, Dr. Heath Morrison, echoed this sentiment in his address and indicated that CMS was committed to increasing the strategies that the district takes to not only be collaborative but also work in a community-focused manner. Moving toward action-oriented steps. Although symposium attendees were extremely receptive to the research findings and felt confident that research corroborated their thoughts and informal discussions, they also noted that the agenda needed to move from research to action. Some community members responded that these conversations seemed to have been ongoing for a number of years with no real overt change. It was acknowledged that JCSU and CMS had been engaged in several strategies to foster not only parental engagement but also community engagement. However a larger concerted effort needs to occur. The work of Dr. Mapp was used as an example of strategies that can be enacted to foster family engagement and involvement. Such strategies provide opportunities for schools and communities to work together. Finally, community members expressed the desire to be included in the discussions of what strategies are realistic and can be accomplished. Section 6. Recommendations Recommendations Given the results of the study, informal conversations with community members, and post-study reflections and conversations, as well as comments from the community participants attending the Smith Institute for Applied Research Fourth Annual Invitational Annual Symposium, there are several recommendations that are suggested for moving forward on the plan of increasing engagement in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and in the Northwest Corridor in general. The reader is urged to keep in mind that the recommendations are based upon those who participated in the study, and those who attended the annual symposium. See Table 2 for the listing of recommendations. Ăźďƒź Consider the issue of parental engagement as multifaceted and use a variety of strategies to insure its success. As noted earlier, the data, informal conversations, and conversations at the annual symposium indicated that parental engagement in general is and continues to be a multifaceted issue, one that has to be addressed in a collaborative manner between students, parents, teachers, CMS, and the general community. While the propensity is to lay the responsibility of the leadership of increasing engagement with the parents, almost all constituents admitted that the engagement of families, especially in schools, needed to be facilitated by the support of appropriate contexts and environments, and an engaged school system that includes teachers, administrators, funding, curriculum, and the like. In addition to the aforementioned strategies that may be related to in-school engagement, it is recognized that opportunities beyond the school setting can also be pursued to facilitate this agenda. Some of these are already in progress and have included town hall meetings and activities such as the JCSU sponsored MayFest. It is also possible that activities that draw large crowds (such as athletic events) can and should be used to instigate family involvement in educational pursuits. Finally, the Smith Institute for A publication of Smith Institute for Applied Research at Johnson C. Smith University - SmithInstitute.JCSU.edu

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Applied Research has also taken the lead and is developing educational tools that will be accessible by parents, students, community members and school officials on the University website. Continued work in this area and continued development of task forces, as well as the fostering of collaborative relationships between the community and schools will certainly serve to increase engagement on a “meta-level.” ü Engage in earnest conversations about the successes and challenges in CMS and within the Northwest Corridor. Conversations should be instigated concerning the successes and challenges in CMS and within the Northwest Corridor. These might include open conversations about resources available to schools that are often divided by indicators such as socio-economic and ethnic status. Town Hall Meetings, as well as JCSU’s annual symposium has helped to facilitate these conversations, however, these discussions should be a regular consideration for all constituents. Additionally, conversations concerning capitalizing on the success of programs such as Parent University can help to provide guidance to both families and schools about increasing engagement. Such conversations serve to provide a continued “mid-course correction” of challenges, while allowing the celebration of success in fostering and maintaining family involvement in education. ü Consider the cultural context and understand the sociopolitical issues that are imbued within it. It is important to consider the cultural context in which the Northwest Corridor resides. Study results, informal conversations, as well as opinions and comments expressed at the annual symposium indicated that continued conversations about racial and ethnic re-segregation in both the schools and throughout Charlotte must continue. Although all participants acknowledged the cultural divide, CMS staff, JCSU Administration, students and parents felt strongly that these conversations should be conducted by all parties, rather than “sweeping the issues under the rug.” Specifically, some of these conversations and comments indicated that students and parents were acutely aware that there is a cultural divide of resources for black and African American students and parents. They are also aware of the stereotypes and in some cases, discriminatory practices that sometimes occur due to perceptions. These practices were perceived to spill over into the fostering, or lack thereof, of educational pursuits by all parties. ü Continue to advertise and market the activities of JCSU and establish the University as a collaborative partner with CMS as well as the Northwest Corridor. Participants in the study as well as attendees at the annual symposium who were and were not knowledgeable about JCSU’s community-focused agenda overwhelmingly stated that the University should continue to sponsor activities that specifically cater to and sustain the Northwest Corridor. Sponsoring activities such as MayFest and an “open” campus for homecoming serve to: a) demonstrate JCSU’s long-term commitment to the community, especially to the Northwest Corridor, b) provide opportunities for families to engage in educational pursuits, and c) re-introduce the University to the prospective student population of the Northwest Corridor. To a large degree, the Smith Institute is already executing the participatory action research agenda by encouraging faculty and staff to take a larger role in conducting research within the Northwest Corridor. It is anticipated 28

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that these research projects and work within the community will be disseminated to a wide variety of constituents within the Northwest Corridor, CMS, and at the state and national levels. Ăźďƒź Continue participatory action research on how to continue to foster family and community engagement and involvement in the Northwest Corridor. As mentioned earlier in this report, JCSU’s four-level participatory action research agenda is in progress with the commencement of this study as well as the study of the 2013 MayFest. Additionally, the Smith Institute for Applied Research desires to continue workshops for faculty, further encouraging them to conduct more applied and meaningful communityfocused research. For the second year in a row, the Smith Institute is hosting a Request for Proposals to conduct participatory action research in the Northwest Corridor, and there is monetary incentive to include JCSU students. Both of these initiatives have been well received by faculty, students and staff who are informed of the agenda. However, informal conversations have indicated that there is a large constituency who is not aware and continues to be somewhat removed from the participatory action research plan as well as the community. Continuing to market this agenda to faculty through workshops, research opportunities, as well as conferences, and community activities will build the network of researchers who address the needs of the Northwest Corridor and solidify collaborative community partnerships. Table 2. Study Recommendations 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Recommendations Consider the issue of parental engagement as multifaceted and use a variety of strategies to insure its success. Engage in earnest conversations about the successes and challenges in CMS and within the Northwest Corridor. Consider the cultural context and understand the sociopolitical issues that are imbued within it. Continue to advertise and market the activities of JCSU and establish the university as a collaborative partner with CMS as well as the Northwest Corridor. Continue action research on the topic of how to continue to foster family and community engagement in the Northwest Corridor.

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Section 7. Future Directions and Concluding Remark The Qualitative Study of Community Opinions on Parental Engagement in the Northwest Corridor project is the first in a broader portfolio that includes a long-term agenda of developing activities designed to increase family and community involvement and establishing model strategies for JCSU to work with the residents of Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor. Two directions have been suggested for moving forward. • •

Dissemination of research findings Continued research on family and community involvement and engagement

Dissemination of research findings. Preliminary discussions have commenced concerning where and the manner in which the current research and the MayFest quantitative study should be disseminated. As mentioned elsewhere in this report, results from both have already been disseminated within the JCSU campus community as well as the more community-focused Smith Institute for Applied Research Annual Invitational Symposium. Additional outlets include the publication of written reports distributed to non-academic communities, working papers, white papers and journal articles in scholarly publications. For instance, tentative plans are to publish articles in a variety of academic journals including education, community action and research, program design, and journals that focus on research methodology and program evaluation. White papers would be designed to address ongoing political conversations with regards to the Northwest Corridor, especially as these conversations are related to CMS and their collaborations with families. While it is likely that the updates on the accomplishments of the project will continue to be disseminated at the annual symposium, it is anticipated that presenting in other venues such as conferences, and community forums will encourage continued dialog in the community and in the field of education. These oral dialogs and conversations will serve to inform further development of strategies to increase family and community involvement. Finally, as the Indaba Council of Elders expands its knowledge, it is expected that the Council will serve as a conduit for issues that face students, families, and community members of the Northwest Corridor and within CMS. Continued research on family and community involvement and engagement. Because the parental engagement project is considered an ongoing and long-term commitment of the Indaba Council of Elders, JCSU, and by extension, CMS, an additional research plan is being developed to further expand the work completed thus far. For instance, as mentioned in the recommendations, the Smith Institute for Applied Research is sponsoring an RFP that specifically focuses on funding faculty-initiated projects that address family involvement in schools. The expectation is that these projects will a) engage the community, and b) begin to establish JCSU as the resource epicenter on research on Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor. Further research plans are to actively engage families in the process of reflecting upon and assessing the schools in which their students attend. This work is being considered for the spring of 2014 and in collaboration with CMS. Based upon the work of Dr. Karen Mapp of Harvard University (Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships), the goal of

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the project is to provide CMS with evidence-based feedback from families about schools’ efforts to facilitate family involvement and engagement in the Northwest Corridor. The parental engagement project (more appropriately titled family involvement and engagement) is designed to provide a general understanding of the opinions of the parents, students, schools, and Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor, and how these entities interact with one another. It is hoped that this initiative will foster a long-standing agenda that promotes continued collaborations and further study within the Northwest Corridor.

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References Clarke, B., Sheridan, S., Kim, E., Kupzyk, K., Knoche, L., Ranson, K., & Sjuts, T. (2012). School readiness outcomes for preschool children at risk: A randomized trial of a parent engagement intervention and the role of parent depression. Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families, and Schools. Goodall, J. (2013). Parental belief and parental engagement: How do they interact? Journal of Beliefs & Values, 34, 87-99. Henderson, A., Mapp, K., Johnson, V., & Davies, D. (2007). Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships. New York, NY: The New Press Lowe, K., & Dotterer, A. (2013). Parental monitoring, parental warmth, and minority youths’ academic outcomes: Exploring the integrative model of parenting. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 1413-1425. Public Education Network and National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education. NCLB action beliefs: Parental involvement. Retrieved February 4, 2014 http://www.ncpie.org/nclbaction/parent_involvement.html

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APPENDICES Appendix A Listening Group Discussion Questions-Parents Thank you for participating in this group! Let’s start with a round of introductions. As I mentioned, this is an opportunity to gain an understanding of parents’ opinions and thoughts on parental engagement in the school setting. As a start, I’d like to get a little bit more understanding about CMS in general, as well as the Northwest Corridor. History and Description of CMS and Its Relationship to the Northwest Corridor • Can you tell me a little bit about your understanding of the history of the CMS school district (rephrase as: history of the schools in which you’ve been most involved)? o What are some general historical milestones a) you personally have heard about and/or b) of which you’ve been a part? •

Please give a general description of the student and parent population of the Northwest Corridor. o Probes: Who is the population served? In what manner have they been served? What access to resources do they have? • Sub-probe: Who are the faculty and staff of CMS that serve the Northwest Corridor? • Sub-Sub probe: Please provide any examples you think provide a picture of your thoughts.

Thanks so much for your comments on the rich history of CMS. Now I’d like to gain an understanding of some of the concerns facing the Northwest Corridor Community and how these are related to the educational pursuits of students, families, etc. •

What are some of the concerns facing parents? Facing families? Facing students? o Probes: Are these concerns known to CMS (e.g., teachers, administrators)? Are there plans or initiatives in place to address these concerns? In what manner? By whom?

Thank you for your insightful and honest comments. Now, what are some major successes of CMS? •

What are some of the major successes of families? Of students? Of community members? o Probes: What have students and families been able to accomplish in the school system? In what ways are parents, families, students, and the Northwest Corridor resilient? (rephrase as: coming together?)

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Are these successes known to others (e.g. teachers, CMS, the larger Charlotte Community, the state, nationally)? o Probes: Are there plans to engage constituents in these successes (e.g., outreach, parent groups)? In what ways? Are there plans or initiatives to expand, model or capitalize upon these successes? In what manner?

Thanks so much! I’d like to get into exploring the concept of Parental Engagement. As I mentioned, this is a top area of focus for JCSU and the Indaba Council of Elders, especially as it relates to parental engagement in schools and to student educational pursuits and achievement. So I’ll be asking questions that will help us get at this elusive concept. Parental Engagement: As we have discussed, Johnson C. Smith University and its Indaba Council of Elders have identified parental engagement in CMS schools as a topic they would like to explore. o Have you been made aware of this topic? o What are your thoughts about this? o What kind of information would you like to generate from this exploration? Who would be the audience? o What’s the relationship been between JCSU and the Northwest Corridor? § Probe: What kind of relationship would you envision between JCSU and the Northwest Corridor? Parents? Students?

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Please give me a definition of parental engagement. Is this definition being demonstrated in CMS? In what ways? o Probes: Some people have said that parental involvement is a synonym of engagement. What are your thoughts about this belief?

Please describe your personal perception of parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor. o Probes: from your perception, how engaged are the parents? The students? The community? In what ways? o Probes: what would you like to see happen in terms of parental engagement from parents’ perspective? From the school perspective? From students’ perspective?

Please describe the relationship between parents and CMS (e.g., past, present). What are some issues that have come up that have bonded and divided the two groups?

Are you aware of any initiatives being enacted by CMS to increase parental engagement? Student engagement? Upon what are these initiatives based? o Probe: If not, what kinds of initiatives should be enacted?

What are some of the challenges in fostering parental engagement? That parents face? That CMS might face? That teachers might face?

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If you had the opportunity and infinite resources, what would be your dream scenario for CMS schools?

Thank you again for your comments. Now, I’d like to focus on your perception of issues related to culture and climate of Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor. •

How would you describe the culture of the Northwest Corridor? Of CMS? The climate?

Are there any cultural norms, practices or behaviors that are unique to the Northwest Corridor?

If you had to describe the values of the Northwest Corridor, what would they be? Are values shared between CMS and the Northwest Corridor? o Probes: At times are there perceptions that there is a shared a sense of values between parents, students, teachers, the school district? Others? Upon what do you base your perceptions?

Concluding Comments •

Are there any issues that need to be considered for next steps related to parental engagement?

Are there any other comments that you wish to discuss before we conclude our conversation?

We have reached the end of our discussion and I want to thank you for your cooperation and consideration in speaking with me. I’m sure we will be speaking again but I just want to let you know that I’ll be in touch to confirm our discussion points within the next several weeks. However, if you need to speak with me in the interim, here is my card. I can be reached at any time. Again, thank you for your time. It was a pleasure to speak with you!

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Appendix B Listening Group Discussion Questions-Students Thank you for participating in this group! Let’s begin with a round of introductions. •

What does parental engagement mean to you? o Probes: Some people have said that parental involvement is the same as parental engagement. What do you think?

Please describe your personal perception of parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor.

In what ways should parents be engaged? Is there a particular way parents should be engaged in the schools? o Probes are: Do parents want to be engaged in school activities? If so, why? If not, why not?

How do you think your school views parents of the Northwest Corridor? How do you think parents view the schools? o Probes are: Tell me a little bit about your view of the relationship between parents, students, and schools?

How engaged would you say parents are in your school? o Probes are: how engaged is your parent in your school activities?

What are some of the challenges in getting parents engaged in the schools?

If parents are engaged, why do you think this is? If not, why not? o Probes are: What keeps them engaged? What keeps them un-engaged?

Are students satisfied with the level of engagement from parents? o Probes are: are you satisfied with the level of engagement from your parents/guardians? § Sub-probes are: What would you like to see in terms of engagement?

If you had your way, what would parental engagement look like?

Are you aware of any activities being conducted by the schools to increase parental engagement? o Probe: If not, what kinds of activities should be developed

As we have discussed, Johnson C. Smith University is interested in encouraging community and parental engagement. o Have you been made aware of this interest? 36

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o What are your thoughts about this? o What would you like to see come from this interest? o Can you tell me a little bit about your thoughts of the relationship been between JCSU and the Northwest Corridor? § Probe: What kind of relationship would you like to have between JCSU and the Northwest Corridor, if any? Parents? Students? Thank you again for your comments! Now, I’d like to focus on your thoughts of issues related to the Northwest Corridor. •

How would you describe the Northwest Corridor? o Probes are: Tell me a little bit about the area, the people, the neighborhoods, the attitudes

Are there any norms, practices or behaviors that are unique to the Northwest Corridor? o Probes are: are there any “rituals” or “ways of doing things?” Do the schools understand these rituals? Do the schools share these rituals? o Probes are: Is there is a shared connection between parents, students, teachers, the school district? Others? What makes you think this way?

Concluding Comments •

Are there any issues that need to be considered for next steps related to parental engagement?

Are there any other comments that you wish to discuss before we conclude our conversation?

We have reached the end of our discussion and I want to thank you for your cooperation and consideration in speaking with me. I’m sure we will be speaking again but I just want to let you know that I’ll be in touch to confirm our discussion points within the next several weeks. However, if you need to speak with me in the interim, here is my card. I can be reached at any time. Again, thank you for your time. It was a pleasure to speak with you!

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Appendix C Listening Session Protocol for Johnson C. Smith University Project Focusing on Parental Engagement – Interviews with Select JCSU Administration Introduction: Thank you for speaking with me today! As you know, I am Dr. Katrina Bledsoe and I am Research Scientist and Senior Research Consultant from Education Development Center (EDC), located in Washington, D.C. Prior to arriving to EDC, I became acquainted with the Smith Institute for Applied Research and Johnson C. Smith University back in 2010 when I was asked to come discuss cultural competence in applied research and evaluation. So I am well aware of JCSU’s action research plan and work with Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor. I know that part of that plan includes a variety of strategies including developing community-based and community-focused activities for all in the Charlotte community, but particularly for those in the Northwest Corridor. One of these strategies includes working closely with the Indaba Council of Elders as well as with the CMS system. Of course, you know that one particular topic that has sparked a good deal of interest among the Indaba Council of Elders is that of parental engagement in the CMS school system and in education in general. In light of this, I have been conducting listening sessions with CMS staff as well as parents, community members, students, and JCSU staff to get a sense of what parental engagement means, how it occurs, and what might be some of the facilitators and barriers to that engagement. For my discussions with JCSU, I am interested in finding out more about this agenda, the strategies that are being undertaken, and what outcomes JCSU hopes to achieve with this ongoing project. The expectation is that these conversations will help inform JCSU, CMS, the Indaba Council of Elders and the greater Charlotte community, as well as other interested constituents who in the quest to continually engage in community collaboration and partnerships. Consent: I am speaking with you today, to generate information that will be helpful in gaining a better sense of what parental engagement means for JCSU, especially since it is situated in the heart of the Northwest Corridor. I anticipate this conversation will be about 30-45 minutes although you may speak for as long or as little as you would like. Although this conversation is not considered of a sensitive nature, I want to assure you that no names or identifying information will be shared with anyone outside of EDC and the research team of Johnson C. Smith University. Although I will be taking notes and our conversation will be confidential, there is no right or wrong answers. This conversation is based upon your opinions, knowledge, and thoughts. Also, please be aware that you do not have to answer any question that you do not wish to answer and that you may conclude this discussion at any time. Again, this is simply an opportunity for me to gather information to better understand the concept of parental engagement. Any information I report will always be reported in aggregated and no information will be discussed without your know knowledge of the reporting. Do you consent to speak with me on this topic? To better insure that I capture correct information, may I tape record this session? If so, this recording will not be available to anyone except me, and all precautions such as storage on a secure and firewall system at EDC will be enacted. Before we begin our conversation, are there any questions or comments you’d like to talk about?

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Great! Let’s begin: Let’s start off by getting a little information about how you came to Charlotte and to JCSU, and how you became involved with this initiative. Participant Background: Please tell me a little bit about your personal background, and your history with JCSU. o Probes: How many years have you been with JCSU? What is your position? What were previous positions you had prior to this one? Great! Thank you so much sharing your story. Now I’d like to get a little bit more understanding about the Parental Engagement Initiative, starting with a little bit of history. History and Description of JCSU and Its Relationship to the Northwest Corridor • Can you tell me a little bit about your understanding of the history JCSU? Probes: Who is the population that is served by JCSU? In what manner have they been served? What access to resources do they have? o Sub-probe: Please give a general description of the student and parent population of the Northwest Corridor, JCSU, and of CMS. •

What is the perception of the Northwest Corridor of JCSU? o Probes: What are some general historical milestones of JCSU in the Northwest Corridor that a) you personally have heard about and/or b) of which you’ve been a part? § What are some of the historical milestones of the Northwest Corridor? Of CMS? o Probes: What incidents have taken place that have peaked JCSU’s interest in the topic of Parental Engagement, especially in the CMS system?

Tell me a little bit about JCSU and in particular, the Smith Institute for Applied Research’s Community Engagement Agenda. o Probes: Can you provide a bit more information concerning the Indaba Council of Elders? Who comprises the group? How did this group come to be?

How has the Smith Institute for Applied Research been involved in this agenda? What kinds of activities are being undertaken to further this agenda? o Probes: What relationship does JCSU, and by extension, the Smith Institute have with the Northwest Corridor, and with CMS?

Thanks so much for your comments! Now I’d like to gain an understanding of some of the concerns facing the Northwest Corridor and how these are related to the educational pursuits of students, families, etc.

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From your understanding, what are some of the concerns facing families in the Northwest Corridor? Facing CMS? Facing students? Facing faculty and administrators? o Probes: Are these concerns known to constituents (e.g., parents, students, the city, the state, nationally)? Are there plans or initiatives in place to address these concerns? In what manner? How does JCSU fit into this complicated relationship? o Probes: In what ways has JCSU been a part of these concerns? Have they added or detracted from them?

Thanks so much! I’d like to get into exploring the concept of Parental Engagement. Again, I know from conversations with the Indaba, this is a top area of focus, especially as it relates to parental engagement in schools and to student educational pursuits and achievement. So I’ll be asking questions that I hope will help us get at this elusive concept. Parental Engagement: As we have discussed, JCSU and the Indaba have specific views of what they perceive facilitates or hinders parental engagement. • Can you provide me a few perceptions that have been expressed?

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What does JCSU thinks about the parental engagement initiative? o Probes: What are your thoughts about the Indaba’s role in this agenda? What kind of information would you like to generate from this exploration? Who would be the audience for the findings?

Please give me a definition of parental engagement. Is this definition being demonstrated in the Northwest Corridor? o Probes: Some people have said that parental involvement is a synonym of engagement. What are your thoughts about this belief?

Please describe your personal perception of parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor. o Probes: from your perception, how engaged are the parents? The students? The community? In what ways?).

What initiatives are being enacted by JCSU to increase parental engagement? By CMS? Upon what are these initiatives based? Are CMS and JCSU working together on initiatives?

What are some of the challenges in fostering parental engagement? That CMS faces? That teachers face? That parents face? That JCSU faces?

If you had the opportunity and infinite resources, what would be your dream scenario of parental engagement within the Northwest Corridor? o Probe: What would this look like?

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Thanks again for your great comments on this topic! As you can see, it is quite a broad concept. I’d like to get a sense of awareness of JCSU’s initiative with CMS and the Northwest Corridor in general. Collaboration with JCSU • How much collaboration has taken place between JCSU, parents, the Indaba and the Northwest Corridor? In what ways? •

Is the community aware of JCSU’s work on parental engagement? o Probes: If yes, what collaborations have taken place? In what ways? If no, why not? o Can JCSU be a key player in encouraging parental engagement in schools? In what ways?

Thank you again for your comments. Now, I’d like to focus on your perception of issues related to culture and climate. •

How would you describe the culture of the Northwest Corridor? Of JCSU? Of CMS? o Probes: Are there any issues that have been at the forefront of that community? (here, the goal is to get at underlying issues such as racism, etc.)

Are there any cultural norms, practices or behaviors that are unique to the Northwest Corridor?

If you had to describe the values of the Northwest Corridor, what would they be? Are values shared between JCSU and the Northwest Corridor? Between CMS and the Northwest Corridor? Between JCSU and CMS? o Probes: At times are there perceptions that there is a shared a sense of values between parents, students, teachers, the school district? Others? Upon what do you base your perceptions?

Concluding Comments •

Are there any issues that need to be considered for next steps related to parental engagement?

Are there any other comments that you wish to discuss before we conclude our conversation?

We have reached the end of our discussion and I want to thank you for your cooperation and consideration in speaking with me. I’m sure we will be speaking again but I just want to let you know that I’ll be in touch to confirm our discussion points within the next several weeks. However, if you need to speak with me in the interim, here is my card. I can be reached at any time. Again, thank you for your time. It was a pleasure to speak with you!

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Appendix D Listening Session Protocol for Johnson C. Smith University Project Focusing on Parental Engagement—Interviews with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) District Personnel Introduction: Thank you for speaking with me today! My name is Dr. Katrina Bledsoe, and I am a Research Scientist from Education Development Center (EDC). EDC is working with Johnson C. Smith University on their project concerning community engagement in the Northwest Corridor. Part of that project includes a variety of strategies including developing communityfocused and community-based activities for all in the Charlotte community, but particularly for those in the Northwest Corridor. As well, the JCSU’s President Carter has worked closely with the community having asked the community to collaborate by having members of and Indaba Council of Elders, consisting of members of families, schools, and various community constituents to work together on the goal of developing and engaging community. One particular topic that has sparked a good deal of interest among this particular group is that parental engagement in the CMS system and in education in general. In light of this, EDC has been asked to have listening sessions with CMS staff, as well as other constituents such as parents, community members and staff to get a sense of the parental engagement, how it occurs, and what might be some of the facilitator and barriers to that engagement. The expectation is that these conversations will help inform JCSU as well as CMS, the Charlotte community and other interested constituents in their quest to continually encourage community collaboration and partnerships. I am speaking with you today to generate information that will be helpful in gaining a better sense of what parental engagement means for CMS and especially in the Northwest Corridor. I anticipate that this conversation will be about 30 minutes although you may speak as long or as little as you prefer. Although this conversation is not considered of a sensitive nature, and that I want to assure you that no names or identifying information will be shared with anyone outside of EDC and the research team of Johnson C. Smith University although I will be taking notes; our conversation will be confidential. There is no right or a wrong answer, this conversation is based upon your opinions, knowledge, understanding, and expertise. Also, please be aware that you do not have to answer any question that you do not wish to answer and that you may conclude this discussion at any time. Again, this is simply an opportunity for me to gather information to better understand the concept of parental engagement. Any information I discuss will always be reported in aggregate and no information will be disclosed without CMS’s knowledge of reporting. Do you consent to speak with me on this topic? To better insure that I capture correct information, may I tape record this session? If so, this recording will not be available to anyone except me, and all precautions such as storage on secure and firewall systems at EDC will be enacted. Before we begin our conversation, are there any questions or comments you’d like to talk about?

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Great! Let’s begin: Let’s start off by getting a little information about how you became part of CMS. Participant Background: Please tell me a little bit about your personal background, and your history with CMS o Probes: How many years have you been with CMS? What is your current position? Have you had any other positions? Great! Thank you so much sharing your story. Now I’d like to get a little bit more understanding about CMS in general, as well as the Northwest Corridor. History and Description of the CMS School District and Its Relationship to the Northwest Corridor • Can you tell me a little bit about your understanding of the history of the CMS school district? o Probes: What is the organizational structure? E.g., how many schools, how are these serviced by the district? By the state? What are some general historical milestones a) you personally have heard about and/or b) of which you’ve been a part? •

Please give a general description of the student and parent population of the North Corridor, and by extension, of CMS. o Probes: Who is the population served? In what manner have they been served? What access to resources do they have? § Sub-probe: Who are the faculty and staff of CMS? What kind of resources does the school district maintain? Do thee

Thanks so much for your comments on the rich history of CMS. Now I’d like to gain an understanding of some of the concerns facing CMS and the Northwest Corridor Community and how these are related to the educational pursuits of students, families, etc. •

What are some of the concerns facing CMS? Facing students? Facing faculty and administrators? Facing parents? Facing families? o Probes: Are these concerns known to constituents (e.g., parents, students, the city, the state, nationally)? Are there plans or initiatives in place to address these concerns? In what manner?

Thank you for your insightful and honest comments. Now, what are some major successes of CMS? • What are some of the major successes of CMS? Of students? Of families? Of community members? o Probes: What has CMS been able to accomplish for students? Faculty? What would CMS like to continue and/or capitalize on?

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Are these successes known to constituents (e.g. parents, students, the state, nationally)? o Probes: Are there plans to engage constituents in these successes (e.g., outreach, parent groups)? In what ways? Are there plans or initiatives to expand, model or capitalize upon these successes? In what manner?

Thanks so much! I’d like to get into exploring the concept of Parental Engagement. As I mentioned, this is a top area of focus for JCSU and the Indaba Council of Elders, especially as it relates to parental engagement in schools and to student educational pursuits and achievement. So I’ll be asking questions that will help us get at this elusive concept. Parental Engagement: As we have discussed, Johnson C. Smith University and its Indaba Council of Elders have identified parental engagement in CMS schools as a topic they would like to explore. o Have you been made aware of this topic? o What are your thoughts about this topic? o What kind of information would you like to generate from this exploration? Who would be the audience? •

Please give me a definition of parental engagement. Is this definition being demonstrated in CMS? o Probes: Some people have said that parental involvement is a synonym of engagement. What are your thoughts about this belief?

Please describe your personal perception of parental engagement in the Northwest Corridor. o Probes: from your perception, how engaged are the parents? The students? The community? In what ways?).

What initiatives are being enacted by CMS to increase parental engagement? Student engagement? Upon what are these initiatives based?

What are some of the challenges in fostering parental engagement? That CMS faces? That teachers face?

If you had the opportunity and infinite resources, what would be your dream scenario of parental engagement within CMS schools?

Thanks again for your great comments on this topic! As you can see, it quite a broad concept. I’d like to get a sense of your awareness of CMS’s collaboration with JCSU. Collaboration with JCSU • Are you aware of the Indaba Council of Elders? Have you interacted with them? If yes, in what ways?

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Were you aware of JCSU’s work on parental engagement? o Probes: If yes, have you been involved in a collaboration? In what ways? In what ways can JCSU encourage parental engagement in schools? Learning?

Thank you again for your comments. Now, I’d like to focus on your perception of issues related to culture and climate. •

How would you describe the culture of the Northwest Corridor? Of CMS? The climate?

Are there any cultural norms, practices or behaviors that are unique to the Northwest Corridor?

If you had to describe the values of the Northwest Corridor, what would they be? Are values shared between CMS and the Northwest Corridor? o Probes: At times are there perceptions that there is a shared a sense of values between parents, students, teachers, the school district? Others? Upon what do you base your perceptions?

Concluding Comments •

Are there any issues that need to be considered for next steps related to parental engagement?

Are there any other comments that you wish to discuss before we conclude our conversation?

We have reached the end of our discussion and I want to thank you for your cooperation and consideration in speaking with me. I’m sure we will be speaking again but I just want to let you know that I’ll be in touch to confirm our discussion points within the next several weeks. However, if you need to speak with me in the interim, here is my card. I can be reached at any time. Again, thank you for your time. It was a pleasure to speak with you!

A publication of Smith Institute for Applied Research at Johnson C. Smith University - SmithInstitute.JCSU.edu

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Smith Institute Parental Engagement Final Report 2014