A study of parental involvement practices of Jamaicans in an urban area in Connecticut

Date of Completion

January 2003


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




Family participation in schools and in their children's education is considered by educators both in the United States and internationally to be as extremely important in terms of students' outcomes. Studies by Comer (1980), Epstein & Connors (1992) and Henderson (1988) report that students perform better and are more adjusted at school when their parents are actively involved in the education process. Many studies have explored the relationship between parents from different immigrant groups and the school systems in the host country. No research, however, has explored the nature of the relationship between first generation Jamaican immigrant parents and the school system in the United States. ^ This research, a qualitative study, examines the parental involvement practices of Jamaican immigrant parents in the education of their children in an urban school district in Connecticut using Epstein's six typologies as its theoretical framework. Four research questions were generated with the intent of understanding the relationships that exist between this group of parents and the schools that their children attend. The study used individual interviews, participant observation, focus group interviews, and document analysis as its basic research techniques. ^ Participants for the study were drawn from parents, teachers, administrators, students, and community leaders from one school district. Data analysis occurred during and after data collection, and focused on searching for patterns and idiosyncrasies with the intent of generating a model that describes the parental involvement practices of this population. Various strategies were employed to assure trustworthiness. ^ Findings suggest that the Jamaican parents practice both selective and private involvement in their children's education. The selective involvement includes the areas that pertain to the school. The private involvement describes home practices that support their child's education. The study also found that parents have clearly defined their role and the role of the school in their child's education. ^ The need exists for further research on this immigrant population to investigate whether assimilation and adjustment have effectively changed their parental involvement practices. ^