An examination of Brazilian teachers' attitudes and parents' views on parental involvement in Brazilian state pre and primary schools
Parental involvement (PI) has increasingly become a major priority in the educational agenda. Parents are regarded as an important source for schools and teachers that largely contribute to good-quality education. Schools are expected to develop practices that include parents in activities that concern both the learning process and school practical aspects. Research on school effectiveness and improvement suggests that teachers and parents partnership is now strongly recommended in order to ensure children's school success (Mortimore et aI, 1988). This study discusses PI terminology and concepts; the process and the construction of PI theory with its models and typologies; research and evidence which has influenced this thesis; and evidence from Brazilian schools. PI typologies and models have greatly influenced this piece of work because it is argued teachers' preparedness for PI can only be examined from that knowledge. In particular, the study uses a typology of PI devised by Joyce Epstein (1989) based on PI research in American primary schools (1982, 1985, 1987, and later, extended to middle and secondary schools). Since little attention has been paid to school PI practices in Brazil, this research aims to understand and reveal Brazilian teachers' position to PI. To pursue this aim two studies were designed to collect parents' and teachers' views about PI practices taken from Joyce Epstein's typology, research and questionnaires. Eleven Brazilian state pre and primary schools were involved: 21 parents whose children were in the fourth grade were interviewed using a semistructured questionnaire, and 181 pre- and primary school teachers answered a structured questionnaire. Parents' data were qualitatively analyzed and teachers' quantitative data were analyzed using factor analysis. The results showed that Brazilian parents see PI in three different ways: help, involvement and communication. Help was related to the practical aspects of schooling; involvement was related to intellectual and2 I educational activities; and communication was seen as the tool for the other two categories that would need to be more effectively developed. The findings suggest that Brazilian teachers welcome parents' support in preparing children to go to school but seemed to reject the idea of parents' helping with curriculum-related activities in the classroom and school. However, they would like parents to follow their advice and instructions for activities developed at homne including homework. The importance of positive communication and parents and children's appraisal was also highlighted. Both Brazilian teachers and parents believed that two-way communication and integration of efforts are essential elements for effective in Brazilian schools.