- This study used a nationally representative dataset of 21,260 kindergartners, Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001a), and a conceptual framework of theories of cultural and social capital (Bourdieu, 1986) embedded in an ecological framework (Bronfenbrenner, 2005) to identify unobserved socio-cultural classes in families of kindergartners and investigate these families' involvement at school. The study focused on the differences between families of children with and without disabilities.
Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was used for determining unobserved group membership in parents. First analysis revealed four socio-cultural classes: a low class of predominantly White, English-speaking, low education, and low socio-economic status (SES) parents; a middle class of predominantly White, educated, English-speaking, and high SES parents; a high class of educated, high SES parents, regardless of race or home language; and an "atypical" class of moderately educated, non-White, and non-English-speaking parents, regardless of their SES. Presence of disability did not influence socio-cultural class membership, but within each class, families of children with and without disabilities differed on a number of characteristics.
The second analysis identified three groups of parents based on school involvement: low, medium, and high involved. Group membership was predicted by four family factors: socio-cultural class, family structure, family-school ethnic match, and family's perception of school's involvement practices. Two-parent families, of higher socio-cultural class, with higher ethnic match, and with more positive perceptions of school practices belonged to the higher involvement group. School and teacher factors, including resources, views, and practices, had a weaker influence on parent involvement. School practices for parent-school involvement had only an indirect effect on parent involvement, through parent's perception of school practices. Disability status did not predict parent involvement group membership; however, within each group, the parents of children with disabilities were generally more involved, especially in the low-involvement group. The parents in the atypical and the low socio-cultural classes differed on a number of characteristics, including prevalence of disability and school involvement, differences that a classical SES categorization would more likely obscure. The study has important implications for informing better school-family connections.