School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Gail Collins


Family–School Partnership Programs, Family–School Engagement, School Outreach, Decision-Making, Parent Involvement, Parent Engagement




The purpose of this single instrumental case study was to understand the decision-making practices of parents and elementary school leaders that lead to their beliefs and courses of action relating to participation in a family–school partnership program (FSPP). Two theories guided this investigation. Simon’s organizational decision-making theory demonstrated how institutions can follow a process for effective decision-making while also recognizing human limitations of the task. Epstein’s theory of overlapping spheres of influence contended that when schools, families, and communities work towards a common goal, student development and achievement is attainable at the highest level. The central research question asked, “How do the beliefs, experiences, assumptions, or goals of parents and elementary school leaders influence decisions regarding participation in an FSPP at one elementary school?” Data were collected from individual interviews of parents and school leaders, a focus group involving school leaders, a focus group involving parents, and document analysis in the form of participant letters. The data from this investigation were analyzed using Stake’s case study worksheets and steps for case study methodology: description, categorical aggregation, establishing patterns, and naturalistic generalization. The results of this study indicated that parents’ and elementary school leaders’ beliefs that lead to decisions to participate in FSPPs are school culture, inclusive partnership practices, commitments and responsibilities, learning environment, and approach to school leadership.

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