Impacting Rural Middle Schools Through School-University Partnerships: The Middle School Parent-Teacher Leadership Academy

Impacting Rural Middle Schools Through School-University Partnerships: The Middle School Parent-Teacher Leadership Academy

M. Blake Berryhil (The University of Alabama, USA), Holly G. Morgan (The University of Alabama, USA) and Elizabeth Wilson (The University of Alabama, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0280-8.ch014

Abstract

Effective family-school partnerships can enhance family-school involvement, and increase school and student outcomes. In low-resourced rural areas, many challenges hinder the development of such collaborative relationships, including expansive geographic distances between families and schools and the multiple roles that teachers and administrators assume. School-University partnerships can potentially help meet these challenges. This chapter describes a School-University partnership program, the Middle School Parent-Teacher Leadership Academy (MPTLA). MPTLA equips rural middle school parents and teachers to impact school and student outcomes. The chapter highlights the need for school-university partnerships in rural areas, discusses the uniqueness of the middle school context, explains the structure of the MPTLA and the partnership team model, provides two examples of the MPTLA partnership model in action, and recommends universities implement similar programs.
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Middle School Context

Family-school involvement and school-family partnerships can predict student success during the middle school years (i.e., Hill & Tyson, 2009). Compared to elementary school, caregivers are likely to become less involved in their child’s school during this time (Epstein & Dauber, 1991; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005). Attitudinally, caregivers believe that by not participating, they are supporting their child’s normal developmental trend toward autonomy (Halsey, 2005, Lam & Ducreux, 2013). This, combined with the increasing likelihood that students do not want caregivers to participate in school activities as often, may contribute to decreased involvement. Other factors that inhibit involvement also include the caregiver’s own negative middle school experiences and the lack of confidence in the learning content during the middle grades (Lam & Ducreux, 2013).

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