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This study is intended to analyze the problems associated in as well as the best practices for educating fatherless young adult male students. This study will be a contribution to the growing literature on educational reform and high school dropout problem. The acquisition of a high school diploma is a traditional achievement that allows a student access to a greater number of employment and education opportunities (Bridge, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006). For schools, graduation and dropout rates are a frequently used indicator of success and failure. At the same time, there are a number of forces that may conspire against both school and student in terms of high school graduation: increasing teacher shortages, reduced funding, and ineffective instruction, to name but a few. As such, America's schools are confronted with the challenge of preventing students from dropping out of schools. On a global scale, the United States educational system is tasked with shaping its students into literate citizens equipped with skills to aid them in learning beyond high school graduation in order for the US to be competitive in worldwide economies (Cochran, 2008).
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was created to address inequities in academic achievement and includes graduation rates as part of the mandated adequate yearly progress (AYP) of schools. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) (United States Department of Education [USDOE], 2009) resulted in mandates by the state and federal governments that require high schools graduate 100% of its students by 2014. Although high school reform is a researched, discussed, and thoroughly documented topic, the stakes were raised significantly by NCLB. Researchers advocate that high school reform is necessary for students to become independent thinkers, problem solvers, and better prepared for the challenges of today's global economy. Despite this focus on combating illiteracy and lowering dropout rates, the US high school dropout rate is increasing and remains higher than that of other countries (Benninga, Berkowitz, Kuehn, & Smith, 2006). Increasingly, high schools face the problem of student retention (Yanghee & Baylor, 2006). Blume and Song (2009) reported a 14.2 percent dropout rate for the 2007-2008 school year. Conversely, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education, approximately 7,000 children drop out of high school every day (Wise, 2008). Society, according to Batiuk, Lahm, Mckeever, Wilcox, and Wilcox (2005), spends $11,000 per year for medical, housing, and food assistance support for each high school dropout. In addition, according to Hankivsky (2008), various researches have documented that dropouts earn $10,000 less per year, perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Dropping out of high school places a financial burden on taxpayers and public agencies, as high school non-completers are more frequently in need of the services provided by welfare and correctional agencies. Therefore, despite higher expectations and the pressure on all fronts to raise graduation rates, US high schools seem to be failing in their attempts to retain these at-risk students until they complete high school (Yanghee & Baylor, 2006).
Parent involvement has been found to be related to higher academic achievement (Fan & Chen, 2001). This research has caused parent involvement to be embraced by educators and legislators as one way to improve student achievement. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires schools to show that they are offering options for parent involvement. However, it is also a fact that there is an increase in the number and proportion of lone parent households because of the high rates of divorce. Moreover, other social changes are occurring, aggravating the situation. Fewer people married, and more chose to cohabit before or instead of marrying. More children were born outside marriage. These changes created several routes into fatherless households and this have significant effects on children, on different aspects, one of them in their learning capabilities and how they receive their education. Few studies had looked into the phenomenon, such that the current study is a proposal to close that gap.
Background of the Study
Recent investigation has recognized the many forms of parent involvement (Fantuzzo, Tighe & Childs, 2000). It is important to examine the construct of parent involvement to insure the forms utilized vary by ethnicity and family culture. Although many early childhood programs are providing parental support programs, there are still barriers that prevent parents from becoming involved. These barriers include lack of communication, misunderstanding the concept of early childhood education, linguistic and cultural differences, employment and other family obligations (Epstein & Salinas, 2004). Early childhood programs must begin to plan to overcome these and other possible barriers while encouraging the participation of parents. Research supports the fact that the earlier in a child's educational career parent involvement begins; the more powerful the effects will be (Cotton & Wikelund, 2001).
The benefit of parental involvement in the education of children has been repeated throughout literature (Delandes & Bertrand, 2005 Musti-Rao & Cartledge, 2004). Research continues to support the notion that parent involvement remains an important goal for educators and policy makers (Henderson & Mapp, 2002).
Lack of parental involvement in community based early childhood centers within urban school districts is problematic. Parents are not attending conferences or meetings, there is no communication between staff and parents, and there is no home school connection program in place. The educational and family support staff of the centers described in the study realizes that parental involvement has an impact on the academic success of students.
According to Anderson and Minke (2007) and Christenson (2004) there is a connection between parent involvement and student success. Educators agree on the need for parental involvement in the education of children. There are many possible factors that contribute to lack of parental involvement. These include linguistic and cultural diversity, how teachers and parents view their roles, and lack of communication (Keyes, 2000). Most strategies and programs have been designed to serve families who are English speaking, have economic resources, and possess cultural perspectives that allow them to feel comfortable with the educational process. Educators and schools need to understand and address the cultural perspectives and differences of all families as well as those families who may not respond to the traditional methods of engaging parents for establishing a family/ school partnership.
According to Epstein (2002) teachers and administrators are interested in finding effective and positive ways of working with parents and families. Knof and Swick (2006) stated that early childhood educators need more specific guidance and ideas for developing positive relationships for involving families in the preschool classroom.
Finding realistic and workable ways to involve parents in planning, establishing policy and making decisions regarding mainline educational issues can help to create a positive atmosphere and working relationships. The parent involvement policy in schools and community based early childhood centers must address the issue of barriers to involvement and develop and design ways to engage families (U.S. Department of Education, 2002).
A study conducted by Kessler, Sklar, and Baker, 2000 reported that most family school partnerships were directed towards changing the behavior of parents, rather than creating equal partnerships. Parents who are involved in their child's education exhibit increased self confidence in their parenting skills and have more knowledge of child development (Epstein, 2001). Researchers have also reported that parent involvement increases the parents understanding of appropriate educational practices for their preschool children (Bryant, Peisner-Feinberg & Miller-Johnson, 2000).
Partnership programs take time to develop and must be reviewed and should be continuously improved (Epstein, 1995). The opportunities to encourage involvement in community based early childhood settings must also accommodate the differing needs of families as children grow and families change. Parent involvement opportunities exist on a wide continuum that allow for both creativity and responsiveness to the needs of individual families. Early childhood educators are in the position to facilitate and support the development of strong partnerships which will ultimately benefit early childhood settings, schools, parents and children.
Parent involvement is beneficial for the students, schools, and community. It is important to understand the mechanisms involved in parent's decisions to participate and teachers' decisions to facilitate involvement.
Parent involvement has several implications to affect social change within the field of early childhood. Research reports positive correlation between parental involvement and student achievement (Epstein & Salinas, 2004; McDermott & Rothenberg, 2000). Different perceptions and ideas of the roles surrounding parental involvement challenge the formation of partnerships between teachers and parents. Community based early childhood centers need to implement programs for parents and families that teach them how to become more involved in their child's education.
By training teachers how to encourage parents to more actively participate in their child's education, we are taking the first steps towards creating a strong parent and family involvement program. Janet Lewis (1996) reported that parent involvement is compelling not only in terms of what it will demand of us, but also in terms of what it can offer us. Successful parental involvement programs provide the link between the home and school that is essential to the growth and development of children, and enable principals, teachers, and parents to work together towards a shared mission on behalf of learners.
According to Schecter and Sherri, (2008) the term parent involvement in education has become a common lens through which to explore and understand the relationship between families and schools. Henderson and Mapp (2002) reported that schools do not always know how to involve parents in their children's education. Understanding the many influences in the lives of children, both inside and outside of the classroom can enrich the parent and teacher relationship (Christenson, 2004). Parent involvement has been examined from different perspectives. Epstein, Coates, Salinas, Sanders, and Simon (1997) developed a framework based on the theory of overlapping spheres of influence. This theory proposed that parents and teachers are partners and share the responsibility and interest of the children while creating a caring and learning community.
Katz (1984) described and defined the differences in the roles and spheres of the responsibility of teacher and parents. Katz reports that the teacher's role is specific to schooling, while the parent's role is universal in all aspects of the child's life. Katz further stated that the role of the teacher should be more objective and that the role of the parent is shaped and influenced by the child. Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological model described how the parent and teacher are influenced by the child to form partnerships. In this case the child is the common interest. The teacher and the parent meet together, each bringing their life experiences. The social system provides the framework for the interaction.
As teachers think about their work with parents and families, they often have mixed feelings (Keyes, 2000). Keyes further reported that unlike other relationships, parent teacher pairing occurs by assignment rather than by choice. Communicating with parents is an important job for the early childhood educator (Loop, 2009). Communication between the child's teacher and parent is a vital part to creating a classroom that encourages the involvement of parents. Early childhood educators have the opportunity to help bridge the family home life of a child and his school world at a beginning level (Loop, 2009).
Research reports that effective parent and teacher relationships are founded on the understanding of the unique elements of the roles of the parents and teachers and how they complement each other (Keyes, 2000). Jacobson (2005) examined the perceptions of novice teachers regarding interactions with parents. Jacobson's survey reported that many new teachers felt unprepared to deal with parents, and they also felt that they did not receive any support from the school administrators. Numerous studies have shown that school practices to involve parents and conveyed attitudes and or perceptions towards parents are critical factors that influence how parents respond (Epstein &Connors 1994; Pryor & Favorini, 1994). The importance of establishing a rapport with families and encouraging involvement has become common knowledge among early childhood professionals.
Research reports that strong parent and teacher relationships lead to increased parent involvement (Lawson, 2003; Mann, 2006).Parent involvement has been shown to have a significant and lasting effect on the academic achievement of children (Lawson, 2003). Emphasis should be placed on creating family friendly environments where parents and teachers are made to feel welcomed and know that their voices will be heard and valued.
According to Miedel and Reynolds (1999), families involved in children's early childhood education lead children to achieve greater success in elementary education. Various researchers also show the positive relationship between family involvement in education and young children's academic success (Henderson & Berla, 1994; Izzo, Weissbert, Kasprow & Fendrich, 1999; Powell, 1989).
Review of early childhood education and intervention literature illustrate that these have effects on parents' current and future beliefs and practices (Barnard, 2001). Barnard also demonstrated that parents of children who participate in preschool activities have higher occupational goals for their children, experience higher satisfaction with regard to their children's school performance, and are more involved in their children's elementary years, both at home and in school (Barnard, 2001).
RQ1: What is the association between being fatherless as dropout predictor variable of young adult males?
RQ2: What are the problems faced by fatherless young adult male students?
RQ3: What is the best way to educate or teach fatherless young adult male students based on these problems?
Nature of the Study
The methodology for this research project is qualitative. Qualitative data will be collected in the form of a Focus Group interview and surveys with students known to be fatherless. Student perceptions will be the focal point of the survey instruments used in this methodology. The approach for this qualitative proposed research is non-experimental. Non-experimental research is conducted in a natural setting and includes observation as things occur. The researcher does not have control over the variables and their relationships and influence on one another. Additionally, interventions are not planned (Adam, 2009). The geographical focus of this study Fulton county, Georgia.
Significance of the Study
Despite preventive measures implemented by the federal government and the concerns voiced by advocacy organizations, a steady increase in dropout rates has occurred over the past decades. The effects of dropping out of high school permeate outwards from the personal failure associated with leaving high school without a diploma. Higher crime and poverty rates and the economic impact of fewer skilled workers make high school dropout a social problem worthy of attention. As such, measures to prevent high school dropout must remain an important focus of education researchers and practitioners. The population of individuals who did not complete high school has a demonstrably negative effect on society as a whole.. For working non-completers, the standard of living is measurably lower. Rouse (2005) stated that those who did not complete high school earned an estimated $10,000 less than their counterparts with diplomas did and $250,000 less than high school completers throughout their lifetimes do.
The proposed study is designed to provide a reliable and statistically sound foundation for a process that educators and administrators can use for the early identification of students who are at-risk of dropping out. In addition to identifying potential non-completers, this study will allow school officials to formulate a proactive plan for intervening in the cycle of high school dropout. A plan should be developed for each student identified as at-risk. The plan should include short-term and long-term goals for academic, behavioral, attendance, and vocational performance. Counseling, mentoring, and the development of life skills should be a part of the plan for fatherless young adult male students. Once these goals are developed, a plan of action can be set forth that includes school officials, community services and any other contracted services to cater to the needs of this group of students facing certain unique difficulties in school because of their problems in school.
According to relevant research, student dropout has reached alarming levels that require immediate attention. One of the ways that student dropout can be approached is through preventive measures. Preventive measures are developed through the identification of factors affecting students' academic performance or hindering teachers' teaching performance. One of these could be the family problems that children face. In particular, this study seeks to find out the effects of being fatherless on young adult male students' academic performance and how best to educate them. The next chapter is the review of literature.