Guilford Parent Academy is modeled after a number of existing strategies for involving parents in educational activities, particularly successful programs in Miami, Fla., Norfolk, Va., and other communities nationwide.
Additionally, more than 50 independent studies indicate a strong tie between parental involvement, support and communication, and school success for students.
Parent involvement is defined in a variety of ways in the research literature; however, most current studies acknowledge that involvement is multidimensional and must be culturally sensitive in order to be effective.
The majority of definitions in the research literature suggest that parent involvement in education comprises activities in multiple contexts (e.g. home, school and community), but also involves parental beliefs, knowledge and practices that support children's learning.
In addition to reviewing successful programs and the research literature regarding parent involvement, the project team and Guilford County Schools conducted a principal survey, public opinion poll of parents and community members, a communications audit and a parent survey regarding program interests and concerns.
The Parent Academy team uses the research results to plan Guilford Parent Academy programs and services. Special thanks go to Businesses for Excellence in Education for providing the funding for the public opinion polls, which are statistically valid at the 95 percent confidence level, and communications audit, which included more than 20 focus groups with parents, educators and community members. The public opinion polls are conducted annually.