“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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“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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“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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“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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“Learning Walks…More Than a Tour of the School”

Learning Walks…More Than a Tour of the School is the title of a post at Edutopia by Gwen Pescatore, where she offers an idea for parent involvement called “Learning Walks.”

Here’s an excerpt:

What is a Learning Walk?

It is an invitation to parents to come to the school for a set period of time (an hour or two), to go on a guided tour of the school/classrooms during the school day. Not to look at the decor – but to learn more about the learning happening or explore other topics revolving around education and the school. Each tour/learning walk, would have a topic or theme to guide the discussion and help with selection of which classrooms to visit. The thought is more about giving parents an opportunity to witness what a “real” lesson looks like and not a “dog and pony show” lesson. These are also not about a parent sitting in on and observing THEIR child…but to learn more about a topic or the school through observing in them in action. Following the Learning Walk, the group would sit down to talk more in depth about what they’ve observed and answer questions.

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“California PTA urges sane homework loads”

California PTA urges sane homework loads is the headline of a Washington Post piece.

Here’s an excerpt:

The effort began at Burbank’s John Burroughs High School, where PTA members took action after seeing our film, Race to Nowhere. Suzanne Weerts and Tina McDermott, both mothers at the high school, delved into the education research and drafted a resolution titled “Homework: Quality over Quantity,” urging schools to get the homework madness under control. This month, the California PTA adopted their resolution statewide. State representatives aim to take it to the National PTA next year.

“We know from the research that too much homework can have a negative impact on learning,” said Tina McDermott, who also teaches at a community college. “We also know that family stress can skyrocket from the relentless pressure every day to get it done. It can impact the entire family.”

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“Parents Form Partnership With LAUSD, Avoid Using Parent-Trigger Law”

Parents Form Partnership With LAUSD, Avoid Using Parent-Trigger Law is an interest post over at Education Week sharing an agreement that the District made with parents for increased services and resources.

The suggestion is that the deal wouldn’t have been made if the District didn’t have a threat of parents using the parent trigger hanging over their head.

Are any readers familiar with what happened? Does that analysis hold water?

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Teachers, “Social Justice Unionism” & Parents

A New Teacher Union Movement is Rising is an article by Bob Peterson, head of the Milwaukee Teachers Union.

Here’s how he concludes the piece:

It is no longer sufficient to just critique and criticize those who are attempting to destroy public education. Teacher unions must unite with parents, students and the community to improve our schools—to demand social justice and democracy so that we have strong public schools, healthy communities, and a vibrant democracy.

I’m adding it to The Best Reasons Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.

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“District of Columbia Expands Family-Engagement Program”

District of Columbia Expands Family-Engagement Program is the title of an Education Week post.

Here’s an excerpt:

Twenty-one schools will participate in the parent partnership program during the 2014-15 school year. Each participating school receives a grant for up to $25,000, Melissa Salmanowitz, spokeswoman for the District’s school system, wrote in an email.

According to the release, the Family Engagement Partnership instructs school administrators and teachers how to develop trusting relationships with parents. Teachers conduct home visits and work with families to set higher academic expectations for their children. The program also includes a new approach to parent-teacher conferences. These Academic Parent Teacher Teams help families create supportive learning environments for students in their homes.

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Guest Post: Report From The National Family Engagement Conference

I’ve previously published short reports on last month’s National Family Engagement Conference. Today, Carrie Rose, Executive Director of the Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project, has written this guest post about it:

Parent-Teacher Home Visits Fit DOE’s Vision

Researcher Karen L. Mapp lifts up PTHVP in Family Engagement Framework

CINCINNATI- Back in the day, did your grandma help with costumes for the school play, or did your dad change a shift at work so he could attend your parent-teacher conference? These days, parent involvement is more important to schools than ever. New research shows that if schools are really going to meet the needs of 21st Century students, they’ve got to form more meaningful relationships with families. But there’s been controversy over which activities make a difference. Will Johnny read at grade level if his dad brings cookies for the bake sale?

In order to provide answers, Dr. Karen L. Mapp of the Harvard Graduate School of Education stood on the stage two weeks ago at the first National Family and Community Engagement Conference, hosted in Cincinnati by the Institute for Educational Leadership. In front of her were a few hundred of the nation’s family engagement professionals, charged with involving parents, grandparents and other guardians in their child’s life at school. Dr. Mapp announced that just that morning the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, had released the graphic illustration “The Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships.” With the official release, Dr. Mapp was able to take the audience through an outline of the framework, explaining the kind of relationships schools can build that make a lasting impact.

The Framework’s companion report,“Partners in Education: The Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships,” also by Mapp and Kuttner, was released the next day by Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL).  The much-anticipated report has emerged at a time when the experts in family engagement are engaged themselves 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 recent New York Times (April 13, 2014). And 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, they can help their children be more successful.

The most effective programs, according to Dr. Mapp and the “Dual Capacity Building Framework,” have three main components: they 1) increase the capacity (skills, knowledge, and relationships) of the adults involved via a two-way street – families and staff learn from each other how best to meet the needs of the child;  2) build respect and trust using a relational approach, and 3) have activities tied to learning.

Looking for examples of programs that built trust and increased capacity in families and schools at the same time, Dr. Mapp lifted up home visits as a best practice in family engagement. The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project (PTHVP) method of home visits is described 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, the school was in crisis, and a new principal came in with a new staff and myriad of reforms. But things got worse. 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.

Trained teachers and other school staff visited their students’ families with the purpose of building relationships and trust. Participation, on the part of the teachers and the parents, was voluntary, and students were not targeted but picked randomly with the goal of visiting as many as possible. School staff entered the families’ homes and neighborhoods ready for the two-way learning and sharing process described by Dr. Mapp’s Framework as “Dual Capacity Building.”

“The visits are not designed to be assessments of families; rather, they are relational in nature and are specifically designed to be respectful of families’ assets and strengths and to build the capacity of both the educator and the family to support the academic and social success of every student.”

Parent Katrina Grant is quoted in the report as saying she was not initially open to school personnel coming to see her at home, but her feelings changed after the first visit.

“What made me more engaged was the home visit. When they first called about the home visit, first, I was skeptical. I thought it was a CPS (Child Protection Services) visit. For the teachers to take the initiative, to come to my area where I live and have no problem with it, to sit in my living room, and ask about me and my child, that really meant something to me. It meant that this person is going to be my partner, and we were going to work together, and she cares for my child. The whole time we discussed my child. For me, that was the first engagement that signaled a change for me.”

Both teachers and parents felt the higher levels of trust and respect at the school “immediately,” which is typical of the improved school culture that comes out of home visits. Independent evaluations have found improved attendance, decreased behavior issues, and improved student performance in schools that use the PTHVP model.

The PTHVP model fits other aspects of the DOE Framework, including recommendations for making the program systemic, embedded in curriculum, and sustainable.

Dr. Mapp, from Harvard, standing on the stage, spent a year working as a consultant to the Department of Education refining her research on what makes family engagement effective. The professionals, in the audience, came to the conference to be better at engaging families.  Each engagement program, with their very diverse goals and strategies, has some self-reflection in store. How close do their programs 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

Carrie Rose, Executive Director, Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, [email protected], (916) 448-5290

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This Is The Best Critique Of The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book That I’ve Seen…

Parental involvement overrated? Don’t buy it is a very, very impressive response to the “Broken Compass” authors dismissal of most types of parent involvement.

It’s written by three college professors — By Todd Rogers, Lucas Coffman and Peter Bergman — and appeared on the CNN website.

I can’t emphasize enough that people should read the entire post, but here’s an excerpt:

Citing their research, the authors of the Times piece, Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris, describe provocative findings that show that students of parents who are very involved in their children’s education perform worse than students of parents who are less involved.

While the authors control for certain variables, their research only implies there is a relationship between parental involvement and student performance. This caveat is important; the existence of a relationship does not tell us what causes what.

Think of it this way: If you had two children, and one was getting A’s and the other C’s, which of them would you help more? The C student. An outsider, noticing that you’ve spent the school year helping only one of your children, might infer that parental help caused that child to earn lower grades. This of course would not be the case, and inferring causation here would be a mistake.

I’m adding this to The Best Commentaries On The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book.

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New Not-Very-Useful Survey Finds That Teachers Want More Parent Involvement

Education Week reports on a new survey that finds most teachers want more involvement from the parents of their students (see Survey: Most Teachers Want Involved Parents But Don’t Have Them).

Unfortunately, it didn’t really define what “parent involvement” was and it doesn’t appear they broke down the responses by income-level of the schools where the teachers worked.

Which leads me to put this info in the category of “interesting, but not very useful.”

You might also be interested in The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers.

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“The Middle Ground Between Opt Out And All In”

The Middle Ground Between Opt Out And All In is a very thoughtful post by Matthew Di Carlo at The Shanker Blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

when it comes to “opting out,” what’s important to me is the idea that you don’t have to agree with its proponents’ solution to acknowledge that they may be correct about the existence of a problem. There are good and bad policy applications happening right now, and it’s important to address the bad ones and build on the good ones.

I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children.

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“Why ‘parental involvement’ is not a ‘broken compass.’”

I’ve written a couple of posts skeptical of claims made by authors of a new book on parent involvement called The Broken Compass, with the most recent one about their op-ed piece in The New York Times on Sunday.

Inflated Research Claims Can Harm Children: Why “parental involvement” is not a “broken compass.”
is a post by Marilyn Price-Mitchell that is similarly skeptical.

And respected parent engagement expert Karen Mapp recently sent out this tweet:

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Want To Organize A “Parent Camp” At Your School?

I’ve previously posted about the idea of a “parent camp,” and now have learned that there is a site full of resources to help people organize their own.

The site is called #PARENTCAMP: An Unconference For Parents & Educators, and here’s how it describes itself:

The ParentCamp experience, by design, is a hybrid “un-conference” opportunity for parents and teachers to come together and model the four core beliefs highlighted in Beyond the Bakesale. The experience levels the playing field, putting all stakeholders in a circle for actual, face-to-face discussion about what is best for kids. It’s important to understand the difference between a traditional conference and the un-conference feel we worked to bring to ParentCamp.

On Saturday, April 27, 2013, @KnappElementary hosted the first Parent Camp “unconference” for parents and educators. It’s called an unconference because the event relies upon the expertise and perspective of the entire room, not just the main presenter like the typical stand and deliver conference. Every adult within the session brings an important and unique perspective to contribute to sharing strategies and ideas to benefit student learning, teaching and parenting.

There are “discussion leaders” in each session who set the tone for collaborative dialogue led by teachers, parents, school and community leaders. Sessions are geared toward elementary, middle and/or high school parents.

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