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A Comparison of Parents of Children with and without Developmental Disabilities: We are looking for parents of elementary school-aged children with developmental disabilities to participate in a study about parents sense of empowerment in dealing with the school system. This study is being conducted in the department of Psychology at Queen’s university. We are hoping to gain information that will help us to understand the factors that encourage positive participation of parents in the school system.

Background and Rationale
Recently, the concept of empowerment has become increasingly important to parents and educators of school-age children, partcularly  parents of children with developmental disabilities. The inclusion of parents in the educational process recognizes their knowledge and  experiences as caregivers for their child with a developmental disability.
Fine and Gardner (1994) argue that a sense of collaborative  consultation between parents and professionals requires the acquisition of knowledge, skills and understanding by both parties. Three  main factors are relevant to a parent’s ability to act in a positive, collaborative, and empowered manner. Qualities of the parent  themselves are important, as are the needs of their child. Particularly relevant to the examination of parental empowerment is the  nature of service delivery in the school system.

Purpose of Current Study
The purpose of this study is to clarify how characteristics of the child, the parent, and the school contribute to a sense of empowerment  in the parent, promoting positive interactions between the parents and professionals.

Parents who are interested are asked to contact the researcher, who will send a questionnaire package.
The questionnaires take  approximately 1 to 2 hours to complete. Addressed, stamped envelopes will be included so that the parent can mail the package back  to the researcher. The results of the study will be made available to participants.

Contact the Researcher
The principal researcher is Jennifer Nachshen, in the department of Psychology at Queen’s University. To contact Jennifer, please call  (613) 532-2915 or email her at:
thank you very much!

The Down Syndrome Educational Trust is a charity, based in the United Kingdom, that works to advance the development and  education of individuals with Down syndrome.

Parent survey helps set direction for education improvements
News release from the Ontario Ministry of Education)

TORONTO-Ontario’s first-ever parent survey will provide important feedback to determine future steps to improve student  learning,  Education Minister Janet Ecker said today.

“It is important that we are accountable to parents and that parents have a strong voice in our education system,” said Ecker, who  addressed the Canadian Summit on Performance Accountability and Assessment in Education. “Much like province-wide standardized  tests help to identify areas where students are doing well or need help, feedback from parents  helps to identify additional steps we  can take to improve student learning and achievement.”

The first annual parent survey on education is included as an insert in the government’s Winter 2001-02 on Magazine, which is  being  distributed to all households starting this week. A focused telephone survey of parents will be conducted province wide  this  winter to  complement this initiative.

The parent survey will look at a number of areas, such as parents’ priorities for education, parents’ satisfaction with their children’seducation and school safety. The results of the survey will be made public in the spring.

The parent survey is part of the Ontario government’s plan to improve student learning and achievement. In her speech, Ecker also  spoke of other initiatives to improve student learning and to ensure Ontario’s education system is accountable to parents, including:

 A more rigorous province-wide curriculum that sets clear expectations for what students should learn in each grade level;
 New report cards that clearly explain how well students are doing;
 province-wide standardized tests to ensure students are learning the new curriculum; and
 the Ontario Teacher Testing Program, which includes a Bill currently being debated in the Legislature that, if passed,  would give parents and senior students input into the assessment of teachers.

Ecker said parents want to know that their children are developing the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful.  “Technology and globalization are changing everything around us – from where we work and how we work, to the skills we need to  bring to the workplace today and our ability to learn new skills tomorrow,” said Ecker. “That is why we are setting high standards to  ensure that our students can fulfill their potential.”