Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Teaching and Learning (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Batya Elbaum

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Harry

Third Committee Member

Wendy Cavendish

Fourth Committee Member

Heather Henderson


Parent involvement is recognized as an important factor in the education of students receiving special education services. Research indicates that parents of students with disabilities often experience barriers to their participation in their children’s education, and that the efforts put forth by school personnel to engage these parents may be insufficient. Using data collected as part of a larger study of parents’ and professionals’ perceptions related to schools’ engagement efforts, this study compared the perspectives of 25 parents and 26 professionals from five middle schools located in four school districts in a large southeastern state. The analysis of data aggregated across participants from all five schools yielded four themes: (a) the quality of the school’s efforts to engage and collaborate with parents, (b) the frequency, variety, and effectiveness of communication, (c) the quality of services, placement, and education, and (d) beliefs and values about parent involvement. When parents and professionals from each school were considered as separate units of analysis, important differences emerged across schools. In one school, there was a high level of agreement between parents and professionals in relation to the themes; in the other four schools, the perspectives of parents and professionals were consistently different. The findings of this study add significantly to the literature on parent-school collaboration and highlight important school-level variation in the degree of congruence between parents and professionals. Insights gained from the study can inform middle schools’ future efforts to develop effective educational partnerships with parents of students receiving special education services.


parent involvement; schools’ engagement efforts; students with disabilities; middle schools