Date Approved

2013

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

David Anderson, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Eboni Zamani-Gallher

Committee Member

Jaclynn Tracy

Committee Member

Malverne Winborne

Committee Member

Blandina Rose

Abstract

During this time when schools are publicly ranked according to their students’ achievement on standardized exams, when many of the lower-ranked schools are concentrated in urban, low-income, and high-minority populated communities, and when those same schools receive the least amount of state-funding per-pupil, this study is born from the inspiration to further advocate the development of a school improvement strategy that can have a beneficial impact on a school’s culture and a small demand on that school’s budget. This study seeks to learn of the relationship between parental involvement and school culture. It evolves from personal inspiration to professional legitimacy by building upon Dr. James Comer’s School Development Program (SDP). The SDP, also known as the Comer Process, provides structure and strategies for schools to engage and involve the parents and communities of the families they serve. The Comer Process has proven successful in developing positive school culture and raising student achievement. Plymouth Educational Center (PEC) serves as the setting for this researcher’s exploration of the Comer Process.

This study begins with a broad historical overview of public education in Detroit since the 1960s. Then the research lens narrows onto decentralization, charter schools, and eventually PEC. This study seeks to contribute to and extend previous research by exploring advocating that the more parents and communities are involved with and in a school, the more likely it is that that school’s culture, consisting of a positive and respectful climate, will have a constructive impact on student achievement.

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