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A doctoral research study [McCormack, P. (1995)]. Catholic Elementary Schools as Agents of Parent Formation Needs as Perceived by Parents] sought to discover how well the Catholic elementary school functioned as an agent of formative parenting for parents whose children were enrolled in the K-8 Catholic elementary schools of a small diocese in northern California. The study incorporated a quantitative, descriptive, time bound, cross-sectional evaluative survey which utilized both questionnaire and interview format to assess the issue. Parent selection for inclusion in the study was determined by a purposive stratified proportional random sampling. A representative sample of 332 parents participated which presented a response rate of 94%. The study revealed agreement in parent perceptions which transcended socio-economic status, ethnicity, parental experience and parental education.

Data collected suggested a need to prepare parents or increase parent adequacy to be intentional in the process of providing for the whole person development of their children. Specific parent formation needs surfaced which included:

Establishing a comprehensive program of formative parenting became the topic of follow up research with parents of children enrolled in grades K - 12 in 15 Catholic elementary schools and one high school in the diocese of San Jose, CA.

Principals were asked to identify one student per grade who could be described by the following profile characteristics:


Letters were sent to the parents of 160 children to invite the parent to participate in a five night research project that would result in the development of a Parent Advisement Handbook. Ninety-three families (156 parents) met within K-12 grade groupings to relate what parenting practices they had applied during the previous year that may have contributed to the development of security, autonomy, initiative and industry in their child. Similarly, 56 children in grades 6-12 met on one evening to suggest what they believe their parents did to establish those characteristics within them. The children also suggested advice for parents of children who seem to lack those characteristics. The data gathered from the parent and child research sessions form the basis of formation information that is delivered through Formative Parenting Support Services. It is data that transcends race, socio-economic status, education, and religious training or beliefs. Although research participants were clients of Catholic schools, the data gathered is applicable to the general parent and teacher population.