“White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement” Was Held Today

I had previously posted about the Kellogg Foundation-sponsored White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement, and it was held today.

I’d be interested in hearing a report from anyone who attended.

Here’s the information I have about it so far:

White House symposium focuses on family engagement appeared in The Washington Post, but says surprisingly little about what actually happened at the event.

The Kellogg Foundation put-out a press release
this morning about the event. The most interesting info in it is a summary about a poll they had taken of parents. Here are some results:

The event also dovetails with the release of a recent public opinion poll, commissioned by the Kellogg Foundation*, of 1,000 parents nationwide, which found that 96 percent of parents believe they play a role in ensuring their child has a quality education, but that teachers (73 percent), principals (58 percent) and local officials (46 percent) also have meaningful roles. Among other findings:

U.S. parents believe that involvement in their child’s education is most critical between birth and pre-school (42 percent). That percentage increases among African American and Hispanic parents to 51 and 47 percent, respectively.

Ten percent of all parents, rising to 18 percent of Hispanic parents, say they are actively involved in their children’s education, but do not feel welcome to participate. However, the majority of parents (82 percent) do say they are actively involved and feel welcome.

Forty-six percent of U.S. parents report that lack of time is an obstacle that may prevent them from fully engaging in their child’s education. Nearly 1 in 5 reports that a lack of understanding of what their child is learning also serves as a significant barrier facing diverse and low-income families.

Apparently, they invited one of the co-authors
of the very unhelpful book, Broken Compass, to speak (see The Best Commentaries On The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book). I hope they had other people there to set the record straight.

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“Stop blaming black parents for underachieving kids”

Andre M. Perry makes some thoughtful points in this Washington Post piece, Stop blaming black parents for underachieving kids.

Here’s an excerpt:

Clearly, there is widespread belief that black parents don’t value education. The default opinion has become “it’s the parents” — not the governance, the curriculum, the instruction, the policy, nor the lack of resources — that create problems in urban schools. That’s wrong. Everyday actions continuously contradict the idea that low-income black families don’t care about their children’s schooling, with parents battling against limited resources to access better educations than their circumstances would otherwise afford their children.

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“Home Visits Lifted Up as Best Practice by U.S. Department of Education”

I’ve written a lot about the Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project, including our school’s — and my — active involvement in it (see The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits).

I’ve also posted about the U.S Department of Education’s “Parent and Community Engagement Framework,” which they released in April and which talks about home visits (see Department of Education Releases New Parent and Community Engagement Framework).

The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project has just issued a press release talking about the framework and, though it’s a bit late, it does say some useful things about parent engagement and home visits.

So, I’ve decided to reprint it here:

Local Grassroots Effort Highlighted in National Education Policy
Home Visits Lifted Up as Best Practice by U.S. Department of Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An elementary school in crisis that was trained by the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project (PTHVP) has been recognized as a best practice in the U.S. Department of Education’s report “Partners in Education: Dual Capacity Framework for Family Engagement.” The document, meant to guide policy and funding priorities, explains the characteristics of “high-impact” family and community engagement that makes the most difference to student performance.

The findings were researched and written by Dr. Karen Mapp, a Harvard University expert on family engagement, and her Harvard colleague Paul Kuttner, a researcher and author focused on community-based school reform.

The much-anticipated report has emerged at a time when the practice of home visits is expanding: PTHVP, originally a grass roots organization in Sacramento, has now set up a national office which supports local affiliates in 15 states.

The report is also timely for experts in family engagement who are themselves engaged in debate. Books such as “Broken Compass: Parental Involvement with Children’s Education” by Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris have inspired the media to issue provocative headlines, such as “Parental Involvement Is Overrated” in a New York Times (April 13, 2014). In engagement efforts, the definition of parental involvement varies widely. In some programs, it has a social service bent, where adults are enticed to learn parenting skills with a free dinner, or giveaways of diapers or toys. Another family engagement approach is academic. If parents can be taught classroom subjects like long division, say theorists, they can help their children be more successful.

So what, according to the report, makes a program “high-impact?”

First of all, activities must be relational. Trust and respect must be established between a school and its community before any progress can be made. Barriers to this relationship may include the fact that the school staff is different ethnically and/or culturally from their students’ community, and all parties may have had negative experiences or associations from the past. PTHVP trains participants to identify and reflect upon their previous assumptions. Once they connect with a shared vision, their hopes and dreams for their children, teachers and families have a common language and action plan for the child’s success.

Secondly, programs must have “dual capacity building” outcomes. This means that the program raises the competence, and confidence, in everyone involved (teachers, families, students) instead of knowledge being transmitted in only one direction. For example, at PTHVP, evaluations show that home visits result in improved academic performance and positive behavior in children. But the benefits don’t just go one way: teachers and family members experience transformation as well. Parents and guardians report more trust and collaboration with the teacher, which often leads to increased involvement in the school. And they feel better equipped to help their child achieve their goals. For teachers, they report a deeper knowledge of their student’s lives, which helps them differentiate curriculum and make the classroom more relevant. Teachers also report that doing home visits teaches them to leave negative assumptions behind, and see families as essential partners in their mission to teach. Despite the extra effort, teachers credit home visits with more rewards and less burnout.

In addition, the researchers find that the highest impact engagement methods are collaborative. Strong, sustainable efforts that stand the test of time are supported by more than one agency. This aspect is also relevant to the PTHVP model. In fact, the project was born as a collaboration between a community organizing group, ACT, the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), and the local teachers union, CTA. The unusual coalition focused on building trust between teachers and parents, and developed a model that endured and was replicated in districts across the US, each with their own collaboration of local stakeholders.

And lastly, family engagement activities must be linked to learning in order to have the highest impact. In the home visit model, the first visit to a family home is an opportunity to make a personal connection, and the second visit is used to discuss how to support the child with academic enrichment. PTHVP has also teamed with Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT), pioneered by Maria Paredes and WestEd, and has collected data that shows that when academic parent teacher meetings are preceded by home visits, both attendance and performance rises dramatically.

Looking for examples of programs that built trust and increased capacity in families and schools at the same time, the authors lift up the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project (PTHVP) method of home visits in the first of three case studies in the DOE report, which chronicles the turnaround of Stanton Elementary School in Southeast Washington DC.

In 2010, Stanton Elementary was in crisis, and the district brought in new administration, teachers, and a myriad of reforms to turn around what was the lowest performing school in the district. Traditional strategies such as improved instruction and a new behavior management system were implemented, along with traditional engagement activities such as bake sales, dances, and parent teacher conferences, which were poorly attended. Things actually got worse: a year later, test scores were down, and suspensions were up.

Then in the summer of 2011, a partnership between local Flamboyan Foundation and DC Public Schools brought PTHVP in to train the staff to do home visits. And this, say Stanton teachers and parents, is what made the difference. The staff did 450 visits during the 2011–2012 school year, and followed the visits with 30 APTT meetings for families. By the end of the 2012 school year, the report states, Stanton increased their math scores more than 18% and reading scores by more than 9%. And both staff and families reported a transformation in the culture of the school, crediting the relationships established by the visits.

Engagement programs across the country, with their diverse goals and strategies, have some self-reflection in store. How close does their program come to the DOE’s recommended framework? Do they build capacity in both families and schools? Do they mutually build trust and respect? And are they linked to learning? How will our answers to the above questions change our ideas of what is effective family engagement? Will it change what we fund and what we do? With time and funds in short supply, schools and districts, as well as parents and communities, must address these questions in light of the research.

For more information

Partners in Education: The Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships at the Department of Education, www.ed.gov

The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project www.pthvp.org

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“Federal Data-Privacy Guidelines Urge Better Communication With Parents”

Federal Data-Privacy Guidelines Urge Better Communication With Parents is a new post over at Education Week.

Here’s how it begins:

The tug-of-war over student data privacy continues.

Friday, the U.S. Department of Education released new, non-binding guidance containing suggestions for schools and districts to better inform parents about how their children’s sensitive educational data is being used.

Some privacy advocates, however, were less than enthusiastic.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco.

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“Raising Readers” Is A Scholastic Program For Teachers To Use With Spanish & English-Speaking Parents

Raising Readers is from Scholastic, and it has a lot of free materials — in both English and Spanish — to help promote activities parents can do with their children to encourage reading.

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure exactly how useful they are, but it’s always nice to have some decent materials in a language other than English for parents.

So, I’m adding it to The Best Multilingual Resources For Parents.

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“Clinton launches Talk, Read, Sing campaign”

Ed Source reports on a recent visit by Hillary Clinton to Oakland:

Hillary Clinton spoke to a friendly crowd at Oakland’s UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on Wednesday about her new campaign (no, not that one) to get parents to spend more time talking, singing and reading to their young children.

“Brain research is showing us how important the first years of life are,” Clinton said, “and how much a simple activity can help build brains.”

Oakland will be the second city – the first was Tulsa, Oklahoma – to receive a concentrated dose of messaging about the importance of verbally engaging infants and toddlers. As part of the “Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing” campaign, residents can expect a multimedia campaign featuring television commercials, a radio spot, billboards and bus station ads. Local retailer Oaklandish will also be launching a new clothing line for babies that includes onesies that read, “Let’s talk about hands and feet,” and baby blankets proclaiming, “Let’s talk about bedtime.” For every item purchased, Oaklandish will donate one item to a family in need.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap.”

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Feds Open Civil Rights Investigation Into What’s Going On In Newark

I’ve published quite a few posts about the craziness that’s been going on in Newark schools — the misuse of Zukerberg’s millions in donations, their “Twilight Zonish” perspective on parent engagement, their banning of a parent leader from school grounds.

Well, now the U.S. Department of Education has begun an investigation:

The deeply flawed state school reorganization plan known as “One Newark” faces a federal investigation. In response to a detailed request for a probe from PULSE New Jersey, a parent activist group founded by Johnny Lattner and Sharon Smith, the U.S. Department of Education will determine whether the plan–which has confused the lives of thousands of city children and their parents–violates the civil rights of Newark parents.

Lattner and Smith, joined by national Journey for Justice director Jitu Brown, will announced the details of the investigation Wednesday at noon during a press conference scheduled for the steps of City Hall.

“We made the case that One Newark’ discriminates against children, parents, and teachers, especially in the South Ward,” said Smith, who has been working on bringing the feds into Newark for months.

Smith says she hopes the investigation, authorized by Title 6 of the federal Civil Rights statute, will be prelude to suspending the “One Newark” plan and replacing it with what Brown calls “sustainable school transformation.”

Read more about it at:

Feds will investigate “One Newark” by Bob Braun

Civil Rights Officials Investigating Complaint Against ‘One Newark’ Plan at Ed Week.

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New Congressional Effort To Generate Funds For Community Schools

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. have announced they are introducing a Congressional bill that would generate funds to support the development of community schools.

You can read more about it at:

Bipartisan House Bill Would Boost Community Schools at Ed Week

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Expand Community Schools at the Coalition For Community Schools.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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British Prohibition On Taking Kids Out Of School Reaches New Low: “Mother of terminally-ill boy fighting fine for taking son on ‘last holiday’”

I’ve posted a lot about the ridiculous British policy of fining parents if they take their kids on a trip while school is in session.

The Telegraph reports on a new low in this article: Mother of terminally-ill boy fighting fine for taking son on ‘last holiday’

The headline says it all…

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“Want More Kids to Graduate? Report Suggests Starting with Mom and Dad”

Want More Kids to Graduate? Report Suggests Starting with Mom and Dad is the headline of a post over at Education Week.

Here are a some excerpts:

A new report released today by the Foundation for Child Development and CLASP, a Washington think tank, finds that although parents’ education has a huge effect on their children’s future health and educational attainment, there are very few programs focused on improving education for the entire family….

The report called for policymakers and education officials to look for ways to develop more-holistic “dual generation” anti-poverty programs to educate parents and children at the same time.

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Odd Question: Are Parents “Assets Or Liabilities”?

John Merrow, who produces education-related segments for the PBS News Hour, recently published a post about parent engagement titled Assets or Liabilities?

Though certainly there are teachers who are not very positive about working with parents, my suspicion is that they are in the distinct minority. Merrow appears to think otherwise.

His post is a prelude of sorts to a segment about a parent involvement program in Philadelphia. It’s supposed to air in a few weeks. It should be interesting.

You might also be interested in The Best Reasons Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.

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“Engaging Immigrant Parents with Improved Systems of Interpretation & Translation”

Engaging Immigrant Parents with Improved Systems of Interpretation & Translation is a useful short explanation of how and why one school district makes it a priority to offer several different types of translation services available.

The article includes research references and links for more details on how the system operates.

Thanks to Edublogs for the tip!

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