In recent years issues of disadvantage and academic achievement have stirred to the center of policy – makers’ schema and academic debate. Poor performance in mathematics is particularly recognized as a major problem in schools serving disadvantaged communities in Botswana. As clarified, in Chapter 1, mathematics is a mainstay of almost all the streams in academic areas. Given the vital role mathematics plays in tertiary education and most careers, it is not only constructive but also essential to establish some of the factors that enable achievement in mathematics in disadvantaged schools. This study will hopefully simplify the quest to improve performance in mathematics in disadvantaged schools and establish what schools can learn from one another. Although studies have been conducted in other countries regarding factors that facilitate achievement in mathematics and academically in terms of parental involvement, few such studies were conducted in disadvantaged schools in Botswana. In accordance to Hughes (1999) the most important assumptions from qualitative study on factors related to accomplishment in schools are that (a) teachers are crucial resources; (b) the alignment of the student body matters; (c) schools make a transformation, and (d) physical facilities, class size, curriculum, instructional strategies and other resources impact student learning indirectly through their effect on the conduct of teachers and students.
In today’s educational ground, it is essential for parents and teachers work hand in hand to better the educational capability of the child. In the beginning of formal schooling, however, parents had much more power and control concerning the education of their children. Typically children would interne in the family business, and teachers were hired by the family to school their children. That improved, however, during the past century. By the central of the 20th century, there was strict duty parting between families and schools. Schools were accountable for academic topics, and families were answerable for moral, cultural, and religious education. Today’s learning experience is much different. Educators often find themselves answerable for much more than academics. Milne and Plourde (2006) found the following: The responsibility of the teacher has taken on many descriptors over the past years. Today the work of the teacher is not only to simplify learning, but often includes being a nurse, social worker, parent, referee, advocate, and much, much, more. (p. 183) Parent participation is typically positioned into two categories – home-based and school based.
Leadership and Parent Involvement
The role of the principal is dire in establishing the significance of parent involvement in schools. It has been introduced the conception of Environmental Leadership, which combined the roles of leading internal (school related) and external (parents and community) contexts. Principals can no longer function as mere gatekeepers who try to limit parental and community involvement, but must become representatives who utilize complex strategies to balance institutional independence. This leadership style also includes being aware that parents have expertise which can help the school move forward. To achieve this, principals must guarantee they remove potential roadblocks to parents providing support. To make full use of the talent represented by the varied members of the society, it is essential to remove constraints that prevent capable people from selection for essential positions. Other schools have very wide parent involvement programs. Families may be involved in decision-making concerning a variety of items, such as dress codes or curricular choices. However, principals of schools which do not already have fixed parent participation programs may need to make adjustments to establish parent leadership in their schools.
Epstein and Jansorn outline 10 tactics school principals can use to develop school partnership programs with parents and the community:
1. Use the bully pulpit of the principal’s agency to let educators, staff, parents, and the community know that yours is a partnership school, and that the administration, staff, and action team will work with them to help all scholars succeed to their fullest potential.
2. Let all students know – regularly – how important their families are to the school and to the students’ development and success.
3. Allocate or budget funds for planned activities of school, family, and community partnerships.
4. At the year’s first faculty summit, talk about the Action Team for Partnership’s (consisting of teachers, parents, the principal, other educators, and community partners) mission, the importance of partnership teamwork, and the support that will be delivered.
5. Recognize teachers’ contributions to the school’s program of partnerships in activities they conduct with students’ families. Assist teachers become more effective in interacting with parents about learners’ homework, schoolwork, grade marks, and test scores, and in conducting parent-teacher-student conferences.
6. Broadcast scheduled participation activities during the course of the school year. Encourage involvement by teachers, parents, and others to develop a strong partnership program, a hospitable school climate, and sense of community.
7. Guide the Action Team for Partnership in making periodic reports on partnership plans and achievements to the school council, faculty, parent organization, local media, and key community groups.
8. Work hand in hand with community groups and leaders to pinpoint resources that will enrich the curriculum.
9. Identify and thank Action Team for Partnership leaders and team members, active family volunteers, business and community partners, and others for their time and contributions to participation activities.
10. Work with district administrators and principals from other schools to assemble professional development, share thoughts, solve challenges, and improve school, family, and community partnerships.
Parent Involvement Models
Epstein published the concept of five types of parent participation related to helping one’s child or school. The five areas were: Parenting, Communicating, Volunteering, Learning at Home, and Decision Making. In 1995 Epstein added a sixth area – Collaborating with the Community (Sanders & Epstein, 2000). Epstein’s framework of six types of involvement are as follows:
1. Parenting –Assist families with parenting skills, family support, understanding child and adolescent development, and setting home circumstances to support learning at each age and grade level. Assist schools in understanding families’ upbringings, cultures, and goals for children.
2. Communicating – Converse with families about school programs and learner progress in varied, clear, and productive ways. Create two-way interaction channels from school to home and from home to school, so that families can effortlessly keep in trace with teachers, administrators, counsellors, and other families.
3. Volunteering – Improve employment, training, activities, and programs to involve families as volunteers and audiences. Enable teachers to work with regular and random volunteers who assist and support students and the school.
4. Learning at Home – Involve families and children in educational learning activities at home, including homework, goal-setting, and other curriculum-related events. Encourage teachers to design assignment that enables students to share and discuss interesting work and concepts with family members.
5. Decision Making – Encirclement families as partakers in school choices, governance, and advocacy activities through school councils or development teams, committees, PTA/PTO, and other parent organizations. Help family and teacher agents in obtaining information from and giving information to those they represent.
6. Collaborating with the Community – Organise resources and facilities for families, students, and the school with community businesses, agencies, cultural and civic establishments, colleges or universities, and other community groups. Enable students, staff, and families to contribute their service to the community.