Abstract: Promoting a Culture of Academic Optimism through Effective Parent/School Relationships: A Structural Equation Model using ESSP MAP Data (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

13030 Promoting a Culture of Academic Optimism through Effective Parent/School Relationships: A Structural Equation Model using ESSP MAP Data

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 10:00 AM
Golden Gate (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Heather A. Bower, MSA , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Doctoral Student, Chapel Hill, NC
Joelle D. Powers, PhD , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Clinical Assistant Professor, Chapel Hill, NC
Background & Purpose: School culture is increasingly recognized as a critical element of effective schools. Academic optimism is one form of school culture that has been linked to increased achievement (Hoy, Tarter, and Woolfolk Hoy, 2006). Academic optimism encompasses three distinct constructs: academic emphasis, faculty's collective efficacy, and faculty trust (a reciprocal relationship in which parents and teachers believe that the other will act in the students' best interests) (Hoy, Tarter, & Woolfolk Hoy, 2006). Accurately defining and measuring Faculty Trust using variables schools already assess is necessary to evaluate the culture on a campus to promote academic optimism.

Methods: The Elementary School Success Profile Model of Assessment and Prevention (ESSP MAP) is an online ecological assessment that collects data from 3rd through 5th grade students, teachers, and parents to provide schools with data for identifying areas for intervention (Bowen, 2006). ESSP measures were used to test the hypothesis that as Faculty Trust increases, parents' perceptions that teachers care about their children also increase. “School Performance” scores were also expected to increase as “Parent Educational Involvement” increased, which in turn was expected to result in increased “Faculty Trust.” The hypotheses were tested with structural equation models run in AMOS 17.0 using Full Information Maximum Likelihood Estimation with data from two school districts in North Carolina. In the first step of the analysis, the quality of the latent variables was assessed. In the second step, the structural model was evaluated. The unit of analysis was the child. ESSP data about a diverse sample of 451 students were obtained for this analysis.

Results: The model indicated good fit according to multiple fit indices. The chi-square (70.142, p=.000, df=31) remained significant due to the sample size. The CFI (.963, critical value of greater than .95) and RMSEA (.053, critical value of less than .06) indicated good fit. All regression weights were statistically significant (p<.001).

Conclusions and Implications: Results of the analysis identify good model fit for Faculty Trust and indicate ESSP data can be utilized to measure this aspect of school culture. The structural model of Faculty Trust demonstrated a critical association between parent-teacher relationships and school outcomes. The stronger the relationship between parents and teachers, the more parents believe teachers care about their children. Additionally, parents' involvement in their children's education at home increases academic performance. Unexpectedly, results also suggested that higher academic achievement improves the relationship between parents and teachers . This finding contradicts the commonly held belief that strengthening the relationship between teachers and parents will result in improved grades. Schools may need to further develop strategies to equip parents with skills to better support academic activities at home. Additional strategies for increasing faculty trust and promoting a culture of academic optimism will be addressed in the presentation.


Bowen, N. (2006). Psychometric properties of the elementary school success profile for children. Social work research, 30(1). 51-63.

Hoy, W.K., Tarter, C.J., and Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2006). Academic optimism of schools: A force for student achievement. American educational research journal. 43(3), 425-46.