Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version

Fall 11-12-2014

Document Type



A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Under the Supervision of Professor Donald F. Uerling. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Joshua R. Cramer


This is a qualitative inquiry of the phenomenon of participating in a 4-component family literacy program comprised of adult education, child education, parenting classes, and Parent and Child Together Time® (PACT Time). PACT Time was the component of the program where the parent and child learned together. The case selected for this inquiry was the Jefferson County Public Schools Family Literacy Project in Louisville, Kentucky. Informants for this study included 7 immigrant parents, 4 teachers, and 2 principals. The parent participants spoke Spanish as their first language, and 100% were female. The number of informants interviewed for this study totaled 13 individuals.

After the interviews themes were used to construct the essence of the experience for each group. One finding of this study was that informant motivation to participate was a desire to help families reach their full potential—including, but not limited to, English language acquisition, attaining a GED, and/or supporting children in school academically. Informants described success in these same categories. Parents gained confidence, which led to more informed school-choice decisions, strong feelings toward teachers, and improved perceptions of teachers. Teachers used strategies to involve parents in the classroom such as offering volunteer roles, inviting parents to work with their child, encouraging the use of home languages, and encouraging students to complement their mothers. Teachers and principals described the importance of family engagement to education in general as a result of participation. Teachers and parents contextualized the experience within their shared gender roles.

Findings from the principals included recognizing family literacy as a strategy for improving ELL achievement. Principal motivation to host the program included helping families understand school culture and increasing engagement. Space and funding were limitations for principal participation. Principals raised issues linked to family literacy that provided areas for future research: family engagement as part of school improvement, Common Core State Standards, school safety, and family literacy and achievement (including one principal that linked family literacy directly to kindergarten readiness).

Adviser: Donald F. Uerling