A Comparative Study of Latina Mothers and Teachers’ Experiences with Special Education Partnerships
thesisposted on 01.08.2019, 00:00 by Molly Kett Buren
Family engagement with schools, and parental involvement with the IEP process, are linked to positive student outcomes. Increased family engagement with school activities, such as helping with homework, attending parent-teacher conferences, and volunteering in schools impacts student academic achievement (Jeynes, 2007). With the re-authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004), increased expectations for family involvement has become standard practice (Harry, 2008). However, families in Latino, Spanish-speaking communities report barriers to inclusion in school communities and often have limited engagement with school personnel (Olivos, 2009; Salas, 2004; Turney & Kao, 2009). The purpose of this comparative study was to dissect the concept of family engagement and the collaborative process through the perspectives of Latino, Spanish-speaking caregivers of children with disabilities and special education teachers. The study explored three key dimensions of collaborative relationships: (a) expectations and experiences around family engagement, (b) definitions and engagement with collaboration, and (c) the role and impact of advocacy on partnerships. The results deepen our understanding of what different stakeholders, from diverse backgrounds, expect from collaborative partnerships. The study contributes to family engagement literature by extending research on culturally relevant approaches to collaboration with Latino families. This qualitative study is designed to compare the perspectives of Latino caregivers and school professionals (special education teachers, general education teachers, principal) through focus groups, interviews, and observations with field notes. The research interprets and analyzes the experiences of each stakeholder group to identify areas of alignment and divergence around collaborative relationships, advocacy, and family engagement.