The purpose of this mixed-methods research study is to find evidence which supports building principals in the implementation of research-based practices which engage students’ families in ways which contribute to student learning and achievement. The accountability inherent to educational reform efforts, resulting competition among schools and school districts to attract students and families who have begun realizing their options for school choice; and the tendency for parents and community members to “shop” for schools using the internet, social networking, and established relationships has placed the building principals in a position of extreme challenge. The growing expectation that educational leaders use digital communications and social media to engage others, market their school, and promote their school district has been met with some success by some building administrators and school district leaders.
This study focuses on the specific communication skills and behaviors of effective principals and the resulting effects on public perception, and parent and community engagement which leads to improved student achievement. Qualitative, focus-group interviews were conducted, with principals at both the elementary and secondary levels purposely selected to participate. Data was gathered from parents and community members in an effort to measure attitude, perspective, and impact. Questions guiding this study include the following:
1. In what ways do building administrators use digital communications and social media tools to communicate with and engage staff members, parents, and community members?
2. Is there a significant relationship between communication efforts of the building administrator and the level of parental and community engagement in individual schools?
3. Is there a significant relationship between the strategic communications and marketing strategies of a building administrator and the resulting image and reputation of the school?