“How Districts Can Lay the Groundwork for Lasting Family Engagement”

How Districts Can Lay the Groundwork for Lasting Family Engagement is a new report from SEDL, which generally puts out some decent resources.

Here’s how it describes its report:

Family engagement in a student’s education can lead to improved student academic achievement, attendance, and behavior. Yet many districts and schools still struggle to form strong partnerships with the families they serve. Having a supportive district-level infrastructure is key to the success and sustainability of family engagement initiatives. This issue of SEDL Insights outlines district supports that can lay the foundation for high-impact family engagement.

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“Reaching Immigrant Children By Helping Their Parents”

Over the weekend, I reported on a free webinar that the Migration Policy Institute was putting on today about their new report on connecting with immigrant parents.

Today, both NPR and Ed Week published pieces detailing the report. I don’t think readers will find anything extraordinarily new in them, but you can never have too many people pointing out the needs of immigrant parents.

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Not Very Useful Report On Community Schools Released

Education Week reports on a paper just released from UCLA’s UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools that’s fairly critical of how many community schools operate.

I’ve got to say that I was less-than-impressed by the report.

I certainly have been critical (see The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools) of a number of community schools’ efforts, particularly what is often a lack of parent engagement (many tend to look at families as “clients” instead of “partners”), but the report doesn’t even mention that problem.

Despite that criticism, though, I’m convinced that pretty much any kind of “Community School” that offers additional services is an asset, but it doesn’t appear that the report’s authors necessarily agree. I’ve got to wonder how many, if any, community schools the authors actually visited. Their critiques tend to be a bit polemic rather than practically useful.

It does say a Community Schools effort should be schools-led, which is good, but I don’t think there’s much of a question about that point, anyway.

I’m very open to hearing other opinions, including ones that suggest I’m being too harsh in my assessment.

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Department of Education Releases New Parent and Community Engagement Framework

Today, the Department of Education released what they call a new “Parent and Community Engagement Framework.”

To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what that means, but it can’t hurt for them to place a more public emphasis on parent engagement.

You can read about it at the Department’s blog post; get a good overview of it at Education Week; and actually access it here.

Of the documents they’re sharing, I think most people will find the Partners In Education report the most useful. It shares some good case studies.

People should keep in mind what Karen Mapp, one of the primary authors of the document (and one of the people I most respect in the parent engagement field) says as related in this tweet:

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“Research Findings From Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America”

Q & A With Lori Takeuchi: Research Findings From Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America is from the Harvard Family Research Project.

Here’s the part most useful to educators:

How can practitioners support families in selecting and using educational media?

We know that teacher endorsements are one of the main ways that parents get recommendations for educational media. However, among parents of children who are in a preschool or school setting, just 40% say their children’s teachers “often” or “sometimes” assign, recommend, or suggest media for use at home. This means that there is a real opportunity for practitioners, teachers, and others who work with families and children to provide parents with more information about age-appropriate TV shows, games, apps, and websites that have true educational value. Practitioners can also tell parents about organizations like Common Sense Media and the Children’s Technology Review, which provide ratings for many media titles. And, importantly, practitioners can help remind parents that educational-media use should be a limited part of a wide range of activities that support children’s learning and development. Based on our survey results, this type of guidance has the potential to be especially helpful for low-income, Hispanic-Latino, and less highly educated parents.

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Not Very Interesting Parent Involvement Survey From U.S. Dept. Of Ed — Except for One Result

Thanks to Joe Mazza, I just learned about the new Parent and Family Involvement in Education, from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012 report from The U.S. Department of Education.

I might have missed something, but I didn’t find it very interesting or useful.

Except for one result:

One percent of students in grades 6 through 12 had parents who said that they did not expect their child to complete high school

Statistic vary, but many observers believe the number of students who do not graduate from high school is close to 33%.

Does that mean that this report is not worth “the paper it’s printed on,” or does it mean that many parents are in denial, or does it mean that schools are doing a very poor job of communication with families, or is it combination of all these factors? Or is something else going on?

What do you think?

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Parents & The Common Core Standards

I’m no big fan of the Common Core Standards, but they are a reality for most of us.

If teachers are ever in situations where they have to explain them to parents, or if there are parents who want to understand more about them, here are a couple of relatively useful resources:

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About The Common Core is from The American Enterprise Institute.

The PTA has a series of booklets in English and in Spanish. Go here and scroll down to “The Parents’ Guide To Student Success.”

Other suggestions?

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Interesting Research On Parents With Chronically Absent Children

Attendance Works, an organization emphasizing school attendance, has just published a “new toolkit” called Bringing Attendance Home: Engaging Parents in Preventing Chronic Absence.

It’s a good piece of work, though most of the ideas in it aren’t anything new. However, one thing did stick out, and that was some recent research done with parents of chronically absent children. It’s in the report, and you can also read about it in a blog post of theirs titled What Parents Really Think About School Attendance.

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

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“Community Schools: Aligning Local Resources”

I’ve published quite a few posts both praising and critiquing community schools. In fact, creating a “The Best…” list on the topic is on my “to do” list.

“Community Schools: Aligning Local Resources” is a brand-new report that has come out, and is described by Public Education NewsBlast this way:

A new brief from the Partnership for Community Schools describes how local government agencies can partner with schools to align existing resources, how these partnerships can be truly effective, and how to pay for them. Through a coordinated delivery system, a community school offers more effective programs and services than any partner could offer on its own. The brief profiles five efforts in California that illustrate the critical role of coordination and intentional collaboration between partners.

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Hmmmmmm…..After 4 Years & $5 Million, Foundation Now Thinks Working With Teachers Is An “Emerging Strategy” For Parent Engagement

The James Irvine Foundation has just published a report on the first four years of a $5 million parent involvement grantmaking program in California’s Central Valley.

Though it seems like some good work has come out of it, I do find it interesting that their report now describing working teachers as an “emerging strategy” for greater parent involvement.

I just wonder if, just maybe, it might have been a good idea to start with that premise….

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy.

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What The Annual MetLife Survey Of The American Teacher Says About Parent Engagement

The annual MetLife Survey of The American Teacher just came out. Here are a few findings related to parent engagement:

More than seven in 10 educators identify addressing the individual needs of diverse learners (83% of principals; 78% of teachers) and engaging parents and the community in improving education for students (72% of principals; 73% of teachers) as challenging or very challenging for school leaders.

Principals in schools with at least two-thirds low-income students are more likely than those with one-third or fewer to say that engaging parents and the community in improving the education of students (86% vs. 46%) is very challenging or challenging.

Engaging parents and the community in improving students’ education and maintaining an adequate supply of effective teachers are greater in secondary and high-needs schools. Principals are more likely to say that it is very challenging or challenging for a school’s leaders to engage parents and the community in improving the education of students when they are from secondary schools (82% vs. 68% of elementary school principals); urban schools (82% vs. 63% from suburban schools and 71% from rural schools); schools with two-thirds or more low-income students (86% vs. 46% from schools with one third or fewer low-income students); schools with two-thirds or more minority students (86% vs. 63% from schools with one-third or fewer minority students); and schools where most students are not performing at or above grade level in English language arts and math (83% vs. 66% from schools with all or most students performing at or above grade level).

Here’s a section they call “From The Survey Archives”:

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher has examined several aspects of the challenge of engaging parents and the community over the years. The 2011 survey noted that “parent and community engagement has increased but remains a challenge for many schools,” and ratings of parent engagement were highest for elementary school and generally were lower at each subsequent school level, from middle to high school. Nine in 10 teachers and eight in 10 parents agreed that their/their child’s school helps all parents understand what they can do at home to support a student’s success in school. Many teachers and
parents believed that lack of parent engagement is widespread:

 One-third of teachers and nearly half of parents said that most or many parents take too little interest in their children’s education.

 One-third of teachers and four in 10 parents said that most or many parents fail to motivate their children to learn in school.

 Four in 10 teachers and parents said that most or many parents leave their children alone too much after school.

The 2011 survey also noted that schools with high parent engagement perform better on a range of measures. For example, parents and teachers in schools with high parent engagement were more optimistic than those in schools with low engagement that student achievement will be better in five years. In addition, teachers in schools with high parent engagement were more than twice as likely as those in schools with low parent engagement to say they are very satisfied in their job.

In 2008, lack of parental support topped the list of problems that teachers said may interfere with learning for a quarter or more of their students. Half of teachers overall and nearly two-thirds of teachers in urban schools reported that lack of parental support is a problem for at least a quarter of their students.

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