Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




James Thomasson


A cultural shift occurring in education today calls for more collaborative interaction between school personnel and parents. Many school leaders and most parents, however, lack experience with this type of interaction for school improvement. The three questions which framed this qualitative, multiple-case study were: 1) What are school leaders' conceptions of fully engaged parents in school improvement processes? 2) What do school leaders offer as evidence of parental engagement? 3) What do visiting school leaders offer as evidence of parental engagement? The theoretical framework for this study was derived from the research-base on parent involvement and the application of social capital theory to parent involvement, which included asset, market based and school centric approaches. An archival document review was conducted to collect and analyze accreditation self-studies and visiting team reports from five high schools. Follow-up interviews with each of the visiting team chairpersons were conducted. Data were analyzed using content analysis, replication logic and comparative contrast methods. Substantial differences were found between what school leaders provided as evidence of full parental engagement and what visiting team members expected to find as evidence. While school leaders most often presented one-way communication activities as evidence, visiting teams were expecting to find evidence of meaningful, decision-making. These findings led to the development of a project to engage parents alongside school leaders in on-going, collaborative problem solving and authentic decision-making for school improvement. Implications of positive social change from this project are that common experiences such as these, which lead to shared understandings, effect a substantial improvement in the relational dynamics of the home and school partnership.