Report On “Promising Practices” For School/Family Engagement

The Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) and the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) have recently issue a report titled Seeing is Believing: Promising Practices for How School Districts Promote Family Engagement.

They describe it this way:

“Seeing is Believing: Promising Practices for How School Districts Promote Family Engagement spotlights how six school districts across the country have used innovative strategies to create and sustain family engagement “systems at work.” Our findings point to three core components of these successful systems: creating district-wide strategies, building school capacity, and reaching out to and engaging families.”

New Issue Of “The School Community Journal”

The School Community Journal, a free academic journal that’s available online, has just published its Spring/Summer 2009 issue (it’s a PDF download).

Two articles that look particularly intriguing are:

“Walking the Walk: Portraits in Leadership for Family Engagement in Urban Schools” by Susan Auerbach

“An Urban School District’s Parent Involvement: A Study of Teachers’ and Administrators’ Beliefs and Practices” by Natalie Conrad Barnyak and Tracy A. McNelly

You can review past issues at their site, too.

Recent Updates On Parents And Schools

Several new useful reports have come-out related to parents and schools since our final manuscript was submitted.  Here are links to several of them:

* The Community Agenda For America’s Public Schools

“A coalition of leading educators and community organizations has produced a “Community Agenda for America’s Public Schools.” The group, which includes Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, seeks to address complex social problems — including poverty, violence, substance abuse, and family instability — by focusing on schools. The agenda calls for more partnerships between public schools and local community groups, health-care providers, and other social services to help struggling students, especially in the nation’s urban and rural areas.”

From The Public Education Network Newsblast

* Most parents want to be involved in children’s education, report shows.

Education Week (10/23, Gewertz) reported, “The vast majority of parents believe it is important for them to be involved in their teenagers’ high school educations, a study shows.” But, according to a report released this week by the Washington-based nonprofit organization Civil Enterprises, “parents whose children attend high-performing schools said their schools do a far better job reaching out to them than did parents of children in low-performing schools.” Furthermore, “Barely half of parents in low-performing schools reported that they have had good conversations with most of their children’s teachers, compared with 70 percent of parents in high-performing schools.” Conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “The report is based on a nationally representative 2007 survey of 1,006 parents of current and recent high school students, and on focus groups conducted with parents in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and Nashville, Tenn.”

Study finds low-performing schools fail to communicate with parents.

The Christian Science Monitor (10/27, Khadaroo) reports on a new Civic Enterprises study called, “One Dream, Two Realities,” which argues, “If America is going to stem the dropout crisis, low-performing schools will have to do a better job of reaching out to parents.” The report found that “fewer than half [of parents surveyed] said the schools did a fairly good job communicating about their child’s academic progress.” Co-author and Civic Enterprises CEO John Bridgeland said that parents “need schools to provide good information and more tools — from homework hot lines to [guidance on] how to help their child get into college.” The study found that, “In schools considered high performing, 83 percent of parents say the school did a fairly good or very good job communicating about their child’s academic progress,” while “just 43 percent say the same of low-performing schools.”

New York School District Tries To Bridge Cultural Gap To Increase Parental Involvement.

The New York Times (11/12, A1, Hu) reports that “the Chinese and Korean families that flocked to Jericho [NY] for its stellar schools shared their Jewish and Italian predecessors’ priorities on excellent education.” However, “the new diversity of the district has revealed a cultural chasm over the meaning of parental involvement. Many of the Asian-Americans whose children now make up a third of the district’s enrollment grew up in places where parents showed up on campus only when their children were in trouble.” Jericho schools are now “trying to lure Asian parents into the schools with free English classes and a multicultural advisory committee that, among other things, taught one Chinese mother what to wear and what to bring to a bar mitzvah.” Meanwhile, the Parent Teacher Association “has been trying to recruit more minority members and groom them for leadership roles.

* Texas District Encourages Parental Involvement Through Workshops For Bilingual Families.

The Dallas Morning News (11/17, Chávez) reports, “Educators have long encouraged parental involvement, but some schools are taking a more aggressive, hands-on approach in showing parents — particularly those new to this country — that they need to help their children learn.” For instance, “at Watson Technology Center in” Garland Independent School District, “school officials this year began a series of workshops for the parents of children in bilingual education. The workshops are conducted by bilingual teachers, who show the parents everything from strategies for taking the TAKS test to how to conduct science experiments at home.” Also during the workshops teachers point out “the similarities of science vocabulary words in English and Spanish and [hand] out instructions for taking a ‘science walk’ or conducting a ‘science baking experiment’ at home.”

* Q-and-A: Community-school model shows promise, author says
Geoffrey Canada helped close the achievement gap by combining his charter schools with social services and classes for parents and young children, boosting students’ reading and math scores dramatically in just three years from 2004 to 2007. New York Times Magazine editor Paul Tough has written a new book about Canada’s experiment, and spoke about the model in an interview. (11/19)

* Secret Weapon Discovered: Parents!

Scientists say parents partnering with teachers can change the future of education.

* Parental Engagement in the 21st Century – Leveraging web 2.0 tools to engage parents in non-traditional ways

This is a link to an online presentation that was part of an annual professional development program (that’s excellent and free) called the K12 Online Conference.

What Does It Mean To Engage Parents?

What does it mean to engage parents?

For a preview of the book, you can read two articles I wrote for Public School Insights earlier this summer.  Here are links to all four in the series (two were written by Renee Moore, an exceptional teacher who is also a member of the Teacher Leaders Network):

Part One: How Much Parent Involvement Do Educators Really Want? by Renee Moore

Part Two: Parent Involvement or Parent Engagement? by Larry Ferlazzo

Part Three: Building Community Trust in Urban Schools is Hard Work by Larry Ferlazzo

Part Four: Education is Becoming More Consumer-Driven by Renee Moore


Even though the book Building Parent Engagement In Schools won’t be published until this fall, I thought I’d take advantage of the summer months to get this blog started.  One of my goals over the next month is to add quite a few useful links in the sidebar of this blog.

I plan on writing about one post each week.  Often, though not always, it will be a “round-up” of new (or, at least, new to me) articles and resources that I think will be useful to educators and parents grappling with parent engagement issues.

If you’d like to get in touch with me, you can leave a comment on one of the posts or use the “Contact Me” form at the top of the screen.