Navigating the Parent Involvement Terrain – The Engagement of High Poverty Parents in a Rural School District

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Dwan V Robinson
Lauren Volpe


This research explored parents’ perceptions of engagement experiences in the school life of their children. This qualitative study included a multi-site exploration of parents at two elementary public schools in an Appalachian school district.  Participants for this inquiry included 16 high poverty parents for the individual and focus group interviews.  Parents were identified as high poverty based on their child’s eligibility for free and reduced lunches under the U.S. National School Lunch Program. Interview protocols were designed to examine themes of school culture and climate, educational policy, and parental involvement.  The research team collected interview transcripts from conversations with parents at the studied school sites..   In examining data from the transcripts, several prominent themes emerged as findings. These findings included the fact that a) parents were motivated to be involved in schools; b) parents grappled with constraints limiting their time to be engaged in schools; and c) issues emerged suggesting that there were attitudes of in-group marginalization amongst parents in the schools.  Recommendations are provided for educational leaders, teachers, and other school district personnel.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Dwan V Robinson, Ohio University College of Education

Educational Studies,

Assistant Professor

Lauren Volpe, Ohio University College of Education

Teacher Education
Doctoral Student