Family engagement initiatives must include a concerted focus on developing adult capacity, whether through pre- and in-service professional development for educators; academies, workshops, seminars, and workplace trainings for families; or as an integrated part of parent-teacher partnership activities. In a school where families are truly partnering with educators, families know how to support their child’s learning both in and out of school. Schools engage families by providing welcoming and trusted environments, and educators understand the value of having on-going communication with and involvement of families. Schools that focus on enhancing the capacity of both school staff and families to cultivate and sustain respectful and effective partnerships are able to more effectively support children’s learning and development. Click here to learn more about the Dual-Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships.
In their seminal work, Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships, Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp describe the “types” of family-school partnerships most often observed in schools. At the low end of the scale are schools that are unwelcoming to families, that do not recognize the value and importance of having families involved in their child’s educational experience, and that underestimate the capacity of families to contribute to the school community. On the opposite end of the continuum are schools characterized by highly-collaborative relationships among staff and families, where mutual trust and respect and a shared responsibility for the success of the school are evident throughout the school community. GPS draws on Beyond the Bake Sale as a framework for helping schools identify their strengths and areas for growth as they seek to strengthen relationships with families.
To learn more about the research and best practice in the area of School-Family Partnerships, read the Handbook on Family and Community Engagement, published in 2011 by researchers at the School Community Network.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) serves as the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Parent and family engagement and consultation have always been a key piece of the law, with particular focus on supporting the family engagement practices in schools that receive Title I funds. Under ESSA, each public school district is required to reserve at least one percent of its Title I funds to carry out parent and family engagement activities. Ninety percent of these “set-aside” funds must be distributed directly to schools, with priority given to “high-need” schools.These parent and family engagement funds must be used to support activities that the district believes will increase the engagement of families, including supporting schools in training school staff regarding engagement strategies and disseminating information on best practices focused on engagement.
Title I funds can be used by a school for the purpose of strategic planning, in particular plans that involve conducting assessments, to identify major factors in schools that affect student academic achievement. As documented in a recent review of the literature published by the Nellie Mae Foundation, time and again, research shows that parent engagement is highly related to student success in school. GPS supports schools in using an assessment of family engagement practices to develop a plan for improving the quality of family-school partnerships, all while working cooperatively and collaboratively with the families they serve.
Click here to learn more about how Title 1 funds can support Family Engagement Activities in your district.
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