Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Dr. Jacqueline Waggoner,

Second Advisor

Dr. Hillary Merk

Third Advisor

Dr. Bruce Weitzel

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Emily Milne

LC Subjects

Education; Elementary schools; Family; Family engagement; Indigenous peoples--Education--Canada; Parent Engagement; Parent involvement


Significant achievement and attainment gaps exist between students who are registered at their schools as Indigenous and students who are not registered as Indigenous. Research indicates that engaging parents of Indigenous students can improve student achievement outcomes. The purpose of this quantitative descriptive analysis was to describe practices schools use to engage parents of Indigenous students, principals’ perceptions of the effectiveness of parent engagement practices as measured by the Engaging Parents of Indigenous Students Survey for School Leaders (EPIS-SSL), and whether these engagement practices have a relationship with previously collected Indigenous student attendance and achievement data. This study used three instruments to examine practices schools use to engage parents of Indigenous students: the EPIS-SSL, Average Daily Attendance reports, and Alberta education assurance measures–First Nations, Métis, and Inuit reports. This study was unique from other studies of practices for engaging parents of Indigenous students as it sought to use quantitative measures to examine the effectiveness of those practices.

The study used a quantitative descriptive analysis design, which included both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Participants in the study included 30 principals across five school districts.

The study described several practices that schools use to engage parents of Indigenous students, including hiring school liaisons, facilitating cultural celebrations, initiating communication, offering transitional supports, encouraging parent council participation, building relationships, and offering Indigenous language programs. Effective strategies for engaging with parents of Indigenous students included having a liaison, facilitating cultural celebrations and informal events, and offering texting as a communication option. The study examined barriers to engaging with parents of Indigenous students, which included technological barriers, nonrecognition of family structures, and staff attitudes. The study revealed that schools that use texting as their primary form of communication scored higher on achievement tests.


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