“How Parent-Friendly is Your Campus?”

How Parent-Friendly is Your Campus? is a useful post in Ed Week by Stephanie Sandifer.

In the broader scheme of genuine parent engagement, I think there are far more important things that schools should be putting their energy into — like home visits and helping parents respond to neighborhood problems that affect both them and the school. However, many of the suggestions made in the post are pretty easy to do and can help parents feel welcome.

New British Study “Parents’ Effort Key to Child’s Educational Performance”

Here’s an excerpt from a report on a new British study titled “Parents’ Effort Key to Child’s Educational Performance.”

A new study by researchers at the University of Leicester and University of Leeds has concluded that parents’ efforts towards their child’s educational achievement is crucial — playing a more significant role than that of the school or child.

This research by Professor Gianni De Fraja and Tania Oliveira, both in the Economics Department at the University of Leicester and Luisa Zanchi, at the Leeds University Business School, has been published in the latest issue of the MIT based Review of Economics and Statistics.

The researchers found that parents’ effort is more important for a child’s educational attainment than the school’s effort, which in turn is more important than the child’s own effort.

The study found that the socio-economic background of a family not only affected the child’s educational attainment — it also affected the school’s effort.

You can read more at the above link.

Update On Newark’s Use Of Facebook Money

I’ve previously raised concerns about how the $100 million donation by Facebook’s founder to Newark schools is being used, specifically it’s misguided parent and community outreach efforts.

I’m not alone in raising those questions.

PENewark outreach to reform Newark schools is a waste of time, money, critics say is a recent local newspaper article describing the outreach process being used.

Shockingly to me, Frederick Hess (with whom I don’t ordinarily agree), articulate my perspective exactly:

“Once he’s banged on every door and heard a litany of complaints, I’m not sure how that will position him to better transform the Newark schools,” Hess said of Booker. “If they want the community and parents engaged in an improvement process, asking people to fill out a questionnaire on their doorsteps isn’t the way to do it. This feels more like the census than community organizing.”

“Parental Involvement Standards”

A newspaper in Tennessee has just published an article about “Parental Involvement Standards” that the state has developed.

They are:

Standard 1: Welcoming all families into the school community- Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class and school.

Standard 2: Communicating effectively—Families and school staff engage in regular, meaningful communication about student learning.

Standard 3: Supporting student success—Families and school staff continuously work together to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.

Standard 4: Speaking up for every child—Families are informed and enabled to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.

Standard 5: Sharing power—Families and school staff are equal partners with equal representation in decisions that affect students and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.

Standard 6: Collaborating with community—Families and school staff work together with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.

I’m personally skeptical about the effect any kind of state standards actually have “on the ground” in schools and in the classroom, but these do sound good. The only way they can hurt, though, is if it leaves people who publish them feeling like they’ve actually done something useful (like people who call into talk radio), and don’t feel like they have to actually help provide resources to schools to implement them and help teachers and administrators feel like it’s in their self-interest to do so.

“Building Local Leadership for Change: A National Scan of Parent Leadership Training Programs”

Building Local Leadership for Change: A National Scan of Parent Leadership Training Programs is the title of an important new report just published by the Annenberg Institute For School Reform.

Here’s a short summary from them:

The New York Senate recently authorized the City University of New York to create and operate a Parent Training Center for public school parents that will teach them to more effectively participate in school governance and support students’ educational success — reflecting a growing nationwide interest in parent leadership training.

In this report, Anne Henderson, senior consultant for community organizing and engagement work at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, describes four successful parent leadership training programs around the country, each with a different focus: leadership training, immigrant families, child learning support, and understanding and navigating the educational system. She then examines their structures, curricula, and best practices, and presents the findings of evaluations on their effectiveness.

In her analysis, Henderson offers up six key practices related to program success, as well as recommendations specific to New York City — strategies that can be used by cities and districts nationwide looking to implement similar initiatives.

“Parent and Community Involvement in a College/Career-Ready Culture”

“Parent and Community Involvement in a College/Career-Ready Culture” is a new report from the Texas Comprehensive Center.

Here’s an excerpt from its introduction:

The literature on parent and community involvement is extensive.
However, there is little rigorous, experimental research; rather, the
literature consists primarily of descriptive case studies or correlation
studies, along with numerous studies involving survey data. The
same holds true for research around development of career and
college readiness. Furthermore, there is very little to be found on
the combined topics of parent/community involvement, college/
career readiness, and student achievement.

The information provided in the research portion of this briefing
paper reports on experimental findings or literature reviews
published since the beginning of 2000.

It’s worth a look….

Well-Intentioned, But Unwise, For School To Have Race-Based Parent Meetings

An elementary school in Delaware is getting criticized for having separate meetings for parents from different ethnic groups (see Delaware schools: Race-based approach snarls plan for parental involvement).

I’m sure it was a well-intentioned effort to help engage parents, but I think it sends the wrong message. Parents from different ethnic groups might have some different concerns (for example, ELL parents are probably more concerned about services for ELL students than native speaker parents), but schools can also play a key role in helping parents connect with each other about common concerns and build relationships with each other. I could easily see some natural small group divisions that might tend to divide along ethnic lines when it comes to working on specific issues, but, as in effective community organizing, it comes from a united larger group where relationships have been built and done in the context of “dealmaking” (I’ll support you and you support me).

I support the idea of high school ethnic studies classes that are designed to help students see that the greatest racial equality efforts have come when different groups have worked together, and which have regular joint projects between those different classes. I think those are a bit different, though, because in those cases students are a “captive audience” and teachers can ensure that this message and those activities happen.

In parent involvement programs, it’s all voluntary, and schools need to work hard to make sure that divisions are not made worse in everything they do.

What do you think?

“No Bull’s-Eye for Parent Trigger Law”

Walt Gardner at Ed Week has some interesting thoughts in his latest post titled No Bull’s-Eye for Parent Trigger Law (I’ve written many times about my concerns regarding a “parent trigger” made into law here in California. Using a petition drive, schools can be converted into charters).

Here are some excerpts:

Supporters of the law are not sure how to read the less than enthusiastic response so far. It’s hard to disentangle genuine parent concern from outside pressure from charter groups. Parent Revolution, which was responsible for the Parent Trigger law, is not a parent group, despite its name. It’s essentially Green Dot public schools, the large charter management organization. As a result, there is rightful skepticism about conflict of interest.

Later, he writes:

All that is known to date is that most parents in California have been indifferent. However the Parent Trigger Law ultimately plays out there, I don’t think it will make much of a difference in improving schools. There are still too many factors that account for educational quality beyond the control of even the best teachers.

“Parent Trigger” Update

I’ve written many times about my concerns regarding a “parent trigger” made into law here in California. Using a petition drive, schools can be converted into charters (of course, the impetus behind the move came from a front group for a charter operator).

Susan Ohanian provides an update to what’s happening with it, including a reprint of a recent Wall Street Journal report on the topic.

“National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement”

From The Department of Education blog:

On Tuesday, more than 150 people representing families, communities, state and local governments, philanthropy, federal agencies, practitioners, and support organizations joined the U.S. Department of Education at the National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement. At the heart of the forum was discussion around systemic family and community engagement strategies that serve to promote student success.

It was nice to see that the DOE’s post about the event, at least, highlighted parent engagement/involvement efforts at non-charter schools. That hasn’t always been the case in the past (see Will Somebody Tell Secretary Duncan’s Staff That There Are “Regular” Public Schools Engaging Parents, Too?).

The blog post also says:

In the near future, we will be releasing a publication outlining the Forum’s highlights and resulting next steps; and the pre-meeting working paper will also be finalized and released.

I’ll look forward to seeing it…

My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2010

I thought readers might find it useful if I brought together my choices for The Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools during this past year.

You might also be interested in last year’s edition:

My Best Posts & Articles About Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2009

Here they are (not in any order of preference):

Teachers Have Got To Stop Blaming Parents

What A Terrible Video About Parents & Schools With A Terrible Message

Unusual — And Important — Parent Engagement Study Validated

Obama’s Blueprint For Reform Is Very Weak On Parent Engagement/Involvement

My Book On Parent Engagement Is Now Available On The Kindle

Can The Brookings Institution Really Be That Clueless?

Parent Engagement Interview

How NOT To Communicate With Parents

Latest Assessment Results From Family Literacy Project

Will Somebody Tell Secretary Duncan’s Staff That There Are “Regular” Public Schools Engaging Parents, Too?

New Article On Making Home Visits

Wow! What A Study On School Leadership…

Parent Engagement Interview

Great Teacher Home Visit Video Clip

Private Foundations Have a Place (& Have To Be Kept In Their Place)

Why Paying Parents To Attend School Events Is Wrong

Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project

Facebook Money Used To Talk To Parents — Uh Oh

Feedback is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to my other blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 500 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

Newark Update

I’ve previously posted about my deep skepticism about the “outreach” campaign being done in Newark with the $100 million dollar grant from Facebook’s founder (see Facebook Money Used To Talk To Parents — Uh Oh).

I continue to have the same concerns. I did think, though, that readers might be interested in this recent local newspaper story about the effort, which has begun — Newark residents request more parental involvement, better teachers during door-to-door campaign.

What Do Parents Want?

Linda Perlstein from the Education Writers Association makes a great point:

In the debate about public release about teachers’ value-added scores, you see a lot of quotes of the “parents would want to know” variety, but not a lot of quotes from parents themselves.

Typical of these quotes is one from Eric Hanushek, a proponent of making these scores publicly available: “Now that The L.A. Times has published these scores, I think the genie is out of the bottle, and parents are going to want this information,” he said in the NY Times.

As Ms. Perlstein writes:

I think we are due for some articles, in California and elsewhere, that really get into the issue of what parents want, or do not want, regarding this information…

I think reporters might find that parents have more pressing issues on their mind, and have more trust in their child’s teachers than many “school reformers” might believe.

“What Parent Engagement Posts Did Readers Find Most “Engaging” This Past Quarter?

A few months ago, I began to have PostRank index posts from this blog. Post Rank uses a variety of ways to measure level of “engagement” that readers have with specific blog posts. I have a constantly updated “widget” on my blog’s sidebar that lists these posts, but I thought a quarterly post would be helpful/interesting to subscribers who don’t regularly visit the blog itself.

Here’s a listing of the “most engaged” posts from the previous quarter.

Here are their rankings for this past quarter:

  1. Good Parent Engagement Video
  2. My Book On Parent Engagement Is Now Available On The Kindle
  3. Wow! What A Study On School Leadership…
  4. “Have parents been shut out of education reform?”
  5. What A Terrible Video About Parents & Schools With A Terrible Message
  6. Obama’s Blueprint For Reform Is Very Weak On Parent Engagement/Involvement
  7. Unusual — And Important — Parent Engagement Study Validated
  8. “How to Strengthen Parent Involvement and Communication”
  9. Another Example Of What “Parent Involvement” Should Not Look Like…
  10. “Teaching Secrets: The Parent Meet and Greet”
  11. Edutopia Offers Free “Home-to-School Connections Guide”
  12. More States Recognizing October As “Parent Involvement Month”
  13. My Best Posts On Parent Engagement Over The Past Six Months
  14. “Too often, students’ parents get lost in the equation”
  15. Good Collection Of Parent Involvement Research
  16. Parents & The Controversy Over The LA Times Story On Evaluating Teachers
  17. “As Parents Protest, Chancellor and Panel Leave”
  18. What Do Latino Parents Say About Schools?
  19. Student Mental Health Needs & Parent Engagement
  20. Another Bad Parent Engagement Strategy: Delaware District Wants To Pay Parents To Come To School Events
  21. “Community Organizing for Stronger Schools”
  22. Public Says More Involved Parents Is Number One Schools Need
  23. “Student-led conferences benefit parents, kids”