Priority Area: School, Family, and Community Partnerships
Created by: Joyce Epstein, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
The content on School, Family, and Community Partnerships (SFCP) is based on advances over the past ten years in research, policies, and practical programs of family and community involvement. The literature identifies several major components for developing effective leadership for programs of family and community involvement at the state, district, and school levels.
The content of the SFCP Priority Area is organized to guide educators in new directions to establish basic leadership and program structures and processes, and to continually improve plans and practices to engage all families in ways that link to student achievement and success in school. The research-based approaches ensure that family and community involvement is understood as part of good school organization, linked to school improvement plans (i.e., in California this is the Single Plan for Student Achievement-SPSA), and focused on goals for student learning and development.
This priority area message has been identified by experts in the field and supports trainings and technical assistance through the California Department of Education, Special Education Division (CDE SED) contract with California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT) project. To request training or technical assistance that reflect any or all of the priority areas, please visit the CalSTAT Web site.
- Develop a Partnership Program: “There is no topic in education on which there is greater agreement than the need for family and community involvement. Yet, most districts and schools still struggle in developing research-based partnership programs that engage all families in ways that contribute to student success in school. Now, research and fieldwork have shown how to organize effective partnership programs that help improve student attendance, behavior, achievement, and other indicators of success in school.”
- Community Connections: Programs of School, Family, and Community Partnerships are enriched by connections with community partners. School teams and district leaders may reach out to businesses, senior citizens, faith-based organizations, sports franchises, health care organizations, cultural and recreation groups, and other community services and individuals to improve the school curriculum, increase services to families, and extend students’ opportunities to learn. Excellent partnership programs not only obtain community resources, but also enable students to contribute to their communities in service learning and other special projects.
- Diverse Families: Some families have always been involved in their children’s education. The goal for excellent partnership programs is to engage all families—including those who would not become involved on their own. This includes improving the clarity of communications with families in languages that parents can understand. Once called “barriers” to involvement, the diversity of families’ backgrounds, languages, and cultures now are understood as “riches” that can be tapped by schools to enable all families to become involved in productive ways with the schools and with their children at all grade levels.
- Homework: Of all topics of family involvement, parents most want to know how to guide and assist their children at home—mainly on homework. It is important for schools to focus on improving the homework process so that families are informed and involved in appropriate ways across the grades. This requires every teacher to provide useful information to parents about the homework policy and good ideas about how to make homework a positive part of learning at home. Research has increased and improved on the purposes, designs, and results of homework. Programs have been developed to help teachers design “interactive” assignments that require students to show, share, and discuss their ideas and their work with family partners.
- Leadership on Partnerships: Leadership on partnerships is neither top down nor bottom up – but side by side. Top down mandates often are unpopular and punitive. Bottom-up decisions are often inequitable and unmanageable over the long term. Side-by-side—or shared—leadership at the district and school levels helps all participants learn from one another. Studies show, for example, that district leaders for partnership program development help schools improve the quality of their outreach to all families over and above what schools can do on their own. Partnership programs improve when principals, counselors, teachers, parents, and district and state leaders work together to plan, implement, and evaluate their efforts to engage all families in ways that support student success in school.
- Middle and High Schools: Family involvement changes as students proceed through the grades. Early studies focused on preschools and elementary schools. In the past ten years, more research has been conducted at the middle and high school levels. The studies indicate that age-appropriate and goal-linked programs and practices of family and community involvement contribute to students’ success through the twelfth grade. There also are clear examples of activities that enable families to remain important influences in their teens’ education on important outcomes, such as attendance, homework completed, credits earned, on-time high school graduation, and plans for postsecondary education for college or careers.
- Policy: Federal, state, district, and school policies clearly call for effective programs of family and community involvement. The challenge is to turn good policies into good practices. Educators at all policy levels want to know: How can all partners in children’s education help develop or revise and improve policies for family and community involvement? How can state, district, and school policies be well implemented and customized to meet the needs of different communities and diverse student and family populations? New guidelines and examples of clear and effective policies in states and districts are helping to address these questions.
- Results for Students: The most important reason for developing more effective, more equitable, and more goal-linked programs of family and community involvement is to increase student learning and success in school. In the “old days,” schools thought only about the parents’ involvement. Now, because schools are accountable for students’ academic achievement, good behavior, and other indicators of success in school, the focus of family and community involvement is on results for students. This important new direction makes family and community involvement central for the success of all school reform efforts. The focus on results means that districts and schools have the responsibility for developing excellent partnership programs and for engaging parents and community partners in ways that support student learning and development.
- Special Education: The field of special education led the way in engaging parents on purposeful activities such as working with teachers to plan their children’s educational programs, IEPs, transition plans, and learning activities at the appropriate level of challenge. Now, schools that serve students with special needs must build on past successes by developing comprehensive and integrated programs of family and community involvement that serve the whole school. Families with and without students with special needs create a “school community.” This means ensuring that families of students with special needs are represented on school committees and leadership teams, feel welcome at the school, are accommodated as needed to participate in school events and activities, and are guided on productive involvement at home. There still are some separate schools that serve only students with severe special needs. These schools must develop goal-linked programs of partnerships that support students’ success—just as any school must plan and implement an effective partnership program. The activities in each school’s One-Year Action Plan for Partnerships must be customized to meet students’ needs, interests, and targeted learning goals.
- Stories from the Field: Promising Partnership Practices: Educators, parents, media, and the public need to see how strong goal-linked programs and practices are designed and implemented. If one school or district or state puts research to work in practice and describes the work clearly, others are more likely to take similar steps to develop their partnership programs. This section provides case studies and examples of hundreds of school, district, and state-level activities to welcome all families and engage families and community partners in ways that help students improve skills in reading, math, science, behavior, and postsecondary planning for college and careers, and other indicators of success in school.
- Surveys for Research and Evaluation on Partnerships: Evaluation has been missing from most programs of family and community involvement. Schools may use exit evaluations to collect parents’ reactions to workshops. These serve a purpose, but do not help schools understand how well they have organized the components of their partnership programs or their progress in reaching out to all families from year to year. Now, indicators and tested measures are available to enable districts and schools to assess the quality and progress of partnership programs.
In addition, surveys for parents, teachers, and students in elementary, middle, and high schools are available with reliable subscales and tested items on attitudes and behaviors of family involvement for research studies, dissertations, and general needs assessments.
RESOURCES AND WEB SITES:
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- Develop a Partnership Program
- California Department of Education and the California Comprehensive Center at WestEd, (2011). Family Engagement Framework, a Tool for California School Districts. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education (CDE).
- This document, developed by the California Department of Education and partners, helps districts and schools engage families in their children's education. The Framework describes 18 principles that are essential for districts to develop effective leadership and programs of family and community involvement at the district level and in all schools to enable families to support their children’s education. The guidelines are grouped into five action areas to: (1) help districts build the skills and confidence of schools and of parents, (2) demonstrate leadership, (3) use resources, (4) monitor progress, and (5) ensure access and equity for all families to support their students. Specific actions to engage families and the community are described for each principle, ranging from basic activities to progressive and innovative activities. The Framework encourages districts to evaluate progress and plan for improvements.
- Epstein, J. L., et al., (2009). School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
- When schools, families, and communities collaborate and share responsibility for students' education, they have positive effects on student achievement and other indicators of success in school. Based on 30 years of research, the third edition presents a framework that enables school, district, and state leaders to develop more effective programs of family and community involvement. With the guidance and tools in the Handbook, educators and parents—working together in preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools—can organize, implement, evaluate, and continually improve goal-linked partnership programs. The book is the manual for the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University (see NNPS Web site below).
Books, Chapters, and Articles on Program Development (listed alphabetically by author)
- Allen, J. (2010). Literacy in the Welcoming Classroom: Creating Family School Partnerships That Support Student Learning. NY: Teachers College Press.
- Allen provides pages of research-based, useful ideas on how schools can work with all families in ways that support student learning, attitudes, and achievement in reading and other subjects. Starting with a welcoming environment, teachers and administrators can engage families in activities that support students’ literacy skills, including parents with diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds.
- Bryk, A. S., Sebring, P. B., Allensworth, E., Luppescu, S., & Easton, J. Q. (2010). Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago.
Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
- This book presents the results of a seven-year study of over 200 schools to identify factors that separate successful schools from unsuccessful schools, regardless of location and student background characteristics. Family and community engagement is one of the important organizational components for improving student learning. The important point is that the comprehensive set of conditions and actions all are important—working together—in a good school including school leadership, teacher quality, student-centered climate, and parental and community involvement.
- Comer, J. P., Joyner, E. T., and Ben-Avie, M. (2004). Six Pathways to Healthy Child Development and Academic Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
- This book discusses six paths for education and action that promote the health, well-being, and academic achievement of children and adolescents. Comer and his colleagues guide schools to organize programs that ensure greater equity in access to programs and services that promote students’ healthy development and learning. In particular, they focus on distressed communities and traditionally under-resourced schools that serve families with low incomes. They draw from their work with many schools using the School Development Program to provide a clear framework for school improvement.
- Dervarics, C. & O'Brien, E. (2011). Back to school: How parent involvement affects student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Center for Public Education (National School Boards Association-NSBA)
- This paper from the Center for Public Education (linked to the National School Boards Association) synthesizes and summarizes research on the value of a school’s parent involvement activities on student outcomes. The summary reports a gap between teachers’ agreement about the importance of family engagement for student success and the need for better guidance on how to develop programs with useful activities that will engage parents and improve student success.
- Deslandes, R., Ed. (2009). International Perspectives on Contexts, Communities and Evaluated Innovative Practices: Family-School-Community Partnerships. Routledge Press.
- Across countries, schools have set ambitious goals for student learning and face major educational problems that require educators, parents, and community groups to work better together. And, across countries, there are important similarities and interesting contrasts in family and community involvement. Authors from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, and the US discuss national policies and present research on the nature and results of programs and practices of family and community involvement.
- Henderson, A. T., Mapp, K. L., Johnson, V. R., & Davies, D. (2007). Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships. New York: The New Press.
- The authors call for more effective partnership programs that involve families in ways that support student achievement and success in school. The book provides hundreds of examples, reviews, checklists, and resources to help improve programs and practices of family and community involvement.
- Hiatt-Michael, D. (Ed.). (2001 to 2010/Series). Promising Practices in School, Family and Community Partnerships. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishers.
- This edited series presents the work of many authors in each book on various topics for improving policies and programs of family and community involvement in schools at all levels and for students with special needs. The books include:
- Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., Walker, J. Sandler, H. M., Whetsel, D., Green, C. L., Wilkins, A. S. & Closson, K. (2005). Why Do Parents Become Involved? Research Findings and Implications. Elementary School Journal, 102, 105 - 130.
- Based on Hoover-Dempsey’s model for understanding why parents become involved in their children’s education and how their involvement influences student outcomes, this article reviews research to explain the model and to provide suggestions for research that will deepen understanding of (1) parents’ motivations for involvement and (2) school and family practices to improve the effectiveness of parental involvement across varied school communities.
- Hornby, G. (2011). Parental Involvement in Childhood Education: Building Effective School-Family Partnerships. New York: Springer Publishing.
- With attention to the role of school psychologists in partnership programs, this book presents a blueprint and many ideas for increasing parental involvement and faculty awareness of the importance of parents as partners in education. Methods for communicating with parents and evaluating parental involvement are detailed.
- Lueder, D. (2011). Involving Hard-to-Reach Parents: Creating Family/School Partnerships. (Second Edition). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education.
- This book helps readers understand the challenges that educators face in organizing effective programs that engage all parents, including those who, traditionally, have been uninvolved, excluded, or ignored. Lueder offers many useful ideas to help educators at all grade levels connect, communicate, and collaborate with all families and community groups.
- Olender, R. A., Elias, J., & Mastroleo, R. D. (2010). Forging Positive Relationships with Parents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Based on confirmed research indicating that family and school connections boost student success in school, this book offers teachers and administrators tools to strengthen these important partnerships. They discuss common sources of positive and negative school and family relationships. They show the importance for educators to understand the school community, communicate effectively, celebrate progress, and establish different approaches to parental participation.
WEB SITES AND ORGANZIATIONS
The following organizations (arranged alphabetically) have programs and Web sites for strengthening School, Family, and Community Partnerships. Some are targeted for educators, others for parents and the public. All contain information, ideas, and resources for all partners in children’s education.
- Council of Directors of Education of Ontario
- The Council of Directors of Education (CODE) released two useful publications. One, Planning Parent Engagement Guidebook, aims to help schools and district (board) leaders understand the importance of well-planned partnership programs. The other, Parent Tool Kit, is a clear and simple guide for parents to support their children as students. It includes easy to read tips for good conversations with students about their work and ideas in school and positive ways to discuss and support students on homework.
- Education World Planning Parent Engagement: A Guidebook for Parents and Schools and Parent Tool Kit.
- Called the “Educators Best Friend,” this Web site has many resources for teachers (e.g., lesson plans, professional development, clip art), and a helpful section for educators on family and community involvement. Some information draws from activities in the NNPS annual books of Promising Partnership Practices. The site also gives scores of Web sites with resources, ideas, and learning activities for parents to conduct with their children.
- Families and Schools Together
- Founded by Dr. Lynn McDonald at the University of Wisconsin, Families and Schools Together (FAST) uses principles of social work to bring educators and parents together to improve the child’s well being, parental involvement in school, and the social connections among parents and with teachers. FAST starts with a series of monthly meetings that parents and children attend together focused on what parents can do to support their children’s learning (parenting skills) and to help students succeed in school (parent-teacher connections).
- National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University
- Most educators want to build strong School-Family-Community Partnerships, but most have not reached this goal. The National Network of Parnership Schools (NNPS), a major project of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, was founded by director, Dr. Joyce L. Epstein. NNPS guides leaders in schools, districts, states, and organizations to use research-based approaches to develop, implement, and evaluate their programs of school, family, and community partnerships. School programs of family and community involvement not only improve the school climate, but also help students improve attendance, behavior, and skills in specific subjects (e.g., reading, writing, math, science), high school graduation, and other important outcomes. In NNPS, district and state leaders are helped to organize leadership activities to assist all schools to conduct effective partnership programs and practices. See this Web site for information, publications, professional development conferences, best practices, benefits and services, and how to join NNPS.
- School Development Program:
- Developed by child psychiatrist Dr. James P. Comer at the Yale Child Study Center, the Student Development Program (SDP) works with educators to improve schools and outcomes for students using structures and processes based on principles of child and adolescent development. Three teams—School Planning and Management Team (SPMT), the Student and Staff Support Team (SSST), and the Parent Team—work together to create a Comprehensive School Plan (CSP). The teams are guided by three principles: decision making by consensus, no-fault problem solving, and collaboration. The processes, including staff development, are designed to improve the curriculum, instruction, communications, family involvement, and student learning and development.
- Solid Foundation
- Solid Foundation is a school-based program designed to strengthen family and school connections, engage parents in children’s education, and improve student academic and behavioral outcomes. Each school works with an external partner and elects one of three paths: a needs assessment to develop a plan for improving partnerships; a School Community Index, survey, and report of opinions of parents, teachers, and students; or the development of a data system for tracking progress of family and community involvement. See other tools and materials, and the School Community Journal at this Web site.
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- Community Connections
- Chadwick, K. G. (2004). Improving Schools through Community Engagement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Chadwick offers educators a framework and ideas for engaging parents and the public in school programs for student learning. She discusses community roles and activities, how to listen to representatives from diverse constituencies, and how to integrate different groups’ perspectives in a clear plan for action.
- Dryfoos, J. & Maguire, S. (2002). Inside Full-Service Community Schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
- The authors of this classic book describe steps for educators, parents, and community partners to develop “full-service” schools in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Community schools, which remain open for longer-than-average hours, serve students, families, and others in the community with health and social services, after-school programs, and other educational and enrichment programs.
- Gordon, E. W., B. L. Bridglall, and A. S. Meroe. (2004). Supplementary Education: The Hidden Curriculum of High Academic Achievement. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
- Schools, alone, cannot ensure high levels of student achievement and success. Supplementary education provides students with out-of-school experiences that improve school skills, develop new interests, and build individual talents. This book discusses supplementary education in after-school programs and in community-based youth development programs. High quality supplementary programs should help close the achievement gaps between racial and ethnic groups of students.
- Mediratta, K., Shah, S., and McAlister, S. (2009). Community Organizing for Stronger Schools: Strategies and Successes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
- Community organizations, policy makers, foundations, and other groups and individuals have important roles to play in improving schools. This six-year study identified organizational characteristics and community roles that contributed to successful school reform and student outcomes. The authors discuss several challenges that must be solved to ensure successful community and school connections.
- Renée, M., and S. McAlister. (2011). The Strengths and Challenges of Community Organizing as an Education Reform Strategy: What the Research Says. Prepared by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. Quincy, MA: Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
- This report summarizes studies of community organizing for education reform. It includes case studies of organizations’ efforts, theoretical investigations of why this reform strategy matters, and a large study of the impact of community organizing on education policy, school capacity, and student educational outcomes. Community organizing increases a community’s capacity to improve schools with attention to the local needs of young people. Some organizing approaches engage all partners—educators, parents, youth, and community members—in planning, leading, and conducting actions to improve to school programs and social services.
- Sanders, M. G. (2015). Leadership, partnerships, and organizational development: Exploring components of effectiveness in three full-service community schools.
School Effectiveness and School Improvement: An International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice. Published online, April 8, 2015.
- Full-service community schools are one approach to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for underserved student populations. According to Richardson’s (2009) model, the effectiveness of full-service community schools depends on 3 interrelated components: leadership, partnerships, and organizational development. This qualitative case study examines the effectiveness of 3 full-service community schools in an urban district in the eastern United States, and discusses the model and results.
- Sanders, M. G. (2005). Building School-Community Partnerships: Collaborating for Student Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Community involvement contributes to effective schools, support for students, and community health and development. Sanders provides a framework for educators to integrate the community in their programs of School, Family, and Community Partnerships. Schools in every community have many community partners with resources and services to improve school programs, extend teachers’ curricula, strengthen families, and enrich students’ experiences and learning.
- Sanders, M. & Galindo, C. (2014). Communities, Schools, and Teachers. Pp. 103-124 In K. Bauserman, L. Martin, S. Kragler, & D. Quatroche (Eds.) The Handbook of Professional Development: Successful Models and Practices, PreK-12. New York, NY: Guilford Publishing.
- This chapter explores the relationship between communities and schools using two definitions of community—as neighborhoods and as social networks—to understand effects on student outcomes. Community and school connections have long been of interest, going back to the work of Dewey, and continuing as a critical component in constructivist approaches to learning and in reform initiatives such as integrated services in schools (Sanders & Hembrick-Roberts, 2013). This chapter also describes how teachers can serve as agents for community responsiveness within schools through collaborative and inclusive professional practices.
- The After School Corporation. (2014). Family Engagement Resource Guide. New York: Author—TASC.
- This guide lists strategies and tools that can be used to improve the implementation of home and school partnerships. The resource draws from policy, research, and practice, with a description of each tool in the guide.
WEB SITES AND ORGANIZATIONS
The following organizations (arranged alphabetically) have programs and Web sites for establishing community connections to improve family and community partnerships and student success in school.
- Coalition for Community Schools
- The Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) includes national, state, and local education and community organizations that support the development of community schools to increase connections of educators, parents, and community partners in order to improve school programs and student learning. See the book, above, by Mediratta, Shah, and McAlister (2009) with studies by the Coalition for Community Schools to improve school climate, community vitality, family engagement, and student learning.
- Harvard Family Research Project
- The Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) is an HFRP project that provides information, publications, and teaching cases on family and community involvement for educators, policy makers, and researchers.
- HIPPY USA
- Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) is a parent involvement and school readiness program that helps parents prepare their three, four, and five year old children for success in preschool and for entering elementary school. Community-based home visitors work directly with parents on activities to boost children’s academic and social readiness for school. HIPPY also makes referrals to community programs and services to meet children’s and families’ needs. The program stresses developmentally appropriate curriculum, role-play to teach parents new skills, personal attention in home visits, and group meetings in the community to help parents connect with each other and with their children’s preschools.
- National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University.
- The National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) Web site includes information on how community engagement is part of comprehensive programs of school, family, and community partnerships. In the framework of six types of involvement, Type 6 is Collaborating with the Community. See success stories and search Type 6 for how schools and districts collaborate with community partners to improve schools, serve families, and increase student success.
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- Diverse Families
- Allen, J. (2007) Creating Welcoming Schools: A Practical Guide to Home-School Partnerships with Diverse Families. NY: Teachers College Press.
- Allen discusses how schools can develop effective partnerships with diverse families to create a welcoming school environment and increase student learning. Written for teachers, administrators, and parent leaders, the book includes many good ideas that can be adapted to match the needs of multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural schools.
- Delgado-Gaitan, C. (2006).Building Culturally Responsive Classrooms: A Guide for K-6 Teachers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Educators face major challenges in schools that serve students and families with diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. This book guides teachers to recognize and use the richness in diversity to improve their classroom contexts and curriculum content so that more students will succeed in school. By learning about student and family cultures, teachers can improve the classroom climate, involve more families, and improve student behavior and achievement.
- Delgado-Gaitan, C. (2004). Involving Latino Families in Schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Latino parents have high aspirations for their children. Delgado-Gaitan provides strategies and examples for teachers to engage Latino parents in ways that support students’ learning in school. She points to three actions that schools must take to improve school and family partnerships: connect to and communicate with families; share information with parents on how to help their students’ at home; and continually improve and sustain involvement activities.
- Gonzalez, N., L. C. Moll, and C. Amanti, Eds. (2005). Funds of Knowledge: Theorizing Practices in Households, Communities, and Classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum
- "Funds of Knowledge" refers to the many things that parents and children know from their backgrounds and experiences. Teachers can learn about parents’ funds of knowledge and draw upon these skills and talents to help students learn new school skills. When educators activate family and community knowledge and abilities, parents and others see that, regardless of their socioeconomic status or circumstances in their communities, they have important strengths and resources that support student learning and development.
- Trumbell, E., Rothstein-Fisch, C., Greenfield, P. & Quiroz, B. (2001). Bridging Cultures between Home and School: A Guide for Teachers. Mahwah, N.J.: LEA.
- This book contains many practical ideas on how to connect and communicate with Latino and other immigrant parents to increase their involvement at the school and in their children’s education. The authors provide a framework for understanding differences, similarities, and potential conflicts among diverse families within schools. They offer specific strategies to learn about family cultures; create two-waycommunications with families who do not speak English as a home language; conduct effective parent-teacher conferences; and engage all families in ways that will support their children’s learning.
WEB SITES AND ORGANIZATIONS
The following organizations (arranged alphabetically) have programs and Web sites to engage diverse families in their children’s education.
- Brown University – Teaching Diverse Learners
- The Teaching Diverse Learners (TDL) Web site at Brown University is dedicated to helping educators work effectively and equitably with English Language Learners (ELLs) and their families. The site includes publications, materials, and other information to promote the academic achievement of ELL students and to engage their families in productive ways.
- ¡Colorin Colorado!
- This bilingual Web site for parents and educators aims to increase students’ reading skills and help them enjoy reading. It is a free service with activities that engage Spanish-speaking families of English Language Learners (ELLs) in their children’s education. Colorín Colorado is an initiative of WETA, a public television and radio station in Washington, D.C. It also is supported by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the US Department of Education-Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The name Colorin Colorado is said to mean something like “ . . .and that’s the end of the story.” See lists of recommended children’s books in Spanish and English.
- Corno, L., and J. Xu. (2004). Homework as the Job of Childhood. Theory into Practice 43: 227-233.
- By viewing homework as the job of the child, the authors of this article cast new light on the potential of homework to help children develop a work ethic and important job management skills that are highly valued in the workplace. The authors also emphasize homework's potential to further children's school advancement both individually and as part of the collective when the experience is positive.
- Deslandes, R., Ed. (2009). International Perspectives on Student Outcomes and Homework: Family-School-Community Partnerships. Routledge Press.
- The chapters in this book report research and policy analyses on homework across countries. The authors discuss the political and cultural contexts of homework, school practices, parental involvement, children’s attitudes, and the results of homework for student achievement. Taken together, the work shows the importance of school and family communications about homework, and the need for better homework designs to increase student interests in learning.
- Epstein, J. L. &. Van Voorhis, F. L. (2012). The changing debate from assigning homework to designing homework. Pp. 263-273 in in S. Suggate & E. Reese (Eds.), Contemporary debates in child development and education. London: Routledge.
- This chapter argues that homework is important for students’ success in school, but the design and quality of homework must be improved to help more students succeed. A summary of research on student learning is presented along with examples of how the quality of homework can be improved. Results of interventions using the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) approach are reported. The authors redirect the debate from the settled topic of homework versus no homework, to more interesting questions for teachers and researchers of the effects of high-quality homework on the number of students who do their homework and succeed in school.
- Epstein, J. L., & Van Voorhis, F. L. (2009).How to Implement Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) Processes. Chapter 8, pp. 277-297 in School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third Edition, by Epstein et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Two research-based partnership approaches are described. TIPS Interactive Homework increases family involvement with students at home in positive conversations about schoolwork and real world applications of school skills. TIPS Volunteers in Social Studies and Art increases family and community involvement at school by organizing volunteers to present art "masterpieces" linked to social studies units to increase students' art appreciation. Samples are included.
- Van Voorhis, F. L. (2011). Adding Families to the Homework Equation: A Longitudinal Study of Mathematics Achievement. Education and Urban Society, 43, 313-338.
- This article reports a two-year study of elementary students in TIPS and non-TIPS math classes in grades 3 and 4, he extent of family engagement, and results for students math achievement test scores in the treatment and control classes. Compared to control classes, TIPS interactive math homework had a positive impact on family involvement in homework, positive feelings about math and math homework, and increased students’ math achievement.
- Van Voorhis, F. L. (2011). Costs and Benefits of Family Involvement in Homework: Lessons Learned from Students and Families. Journal of Advanced Academics, 22, 220-249.
- Homework is one instructional strategy that may engage parents in ways that influence student achievement. This chapter summarizes three longitudinal (two-year) studies of teachers uses of the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) interactive homework process in elementary math, middle grades language arts, and middle grades science, compared to control teachers’ classes that did not use weekly TIPS activities. Results indicate that TIPS students and families reported more parental engagement, more positive emotions and attitudes about homework, and, after two years, higher standardized test scores or report card grades in the TIPS subjects than did control students.
- Xu, J. (2011). Homework completion at the secondary school level: A multilevel analysis. Journal of Educational Research, 104(3), 171–182.
- This study examined variables that affect homework completion of students in grades 8 and 11 indicated that the variance in completion was mainly at the student level. Completion was associated with teacher feedback, self-reported grades, students’ reasons for doing homework, interest (quality) of homework, and students’ homework management skills. Girls reported statistically significant higher scores in homework completion than did boys.
WEB SITES AND ORGANIZATIONS
The following organizations (arranged alphabetically) have programs and Web sites with information on the homework process, including family engagement with students on homework.
- RELWest (Reference Desk)
Manuals for the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) process highlight elementary math and science; middle grades language arts, science, and math, grades 6-8, and prototype interactive homework assignments. Baltimore: Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, Johns Hopkins University.
TIPS CD with over 500 prototype assignments in math (grades k-5 and middle grades review), and language arts, and science (grades 6-8). Activities are provided in WORD and Acrobat Readers for easy use or for local revisions.
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- Leadership on Partnerships
- California Department of Education and the California Comprehensive Center at WestEd, (2011). Family Engagement Framework, a Tool for California School Districts. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education (CDE).
- This document, developed by the California Department of Education and partners, helps school districts engage families in their children's education. The Framework describes 18 principles that are essential for family and community involvement with the school district. These principles are grouped into five action areas to: (1) help school districts build the skills and confidence of parents, (2) demonstrate leadership, (3) use resources, (4) monitor progress, and (5) ensure access and equity for everyone. Specific actions to engage families and the community are described for each principle, ranging from basic to progressive to innovative. The Framework is outlined in a way to help school districts evaluate their progress and plan for improvements.
- Epstein, J. L., et al., (2009). School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
- The Handbook provides a framework for school, district, and state leaders to develop goal-linked partnership programs that contribute to student success in school. District leaders for partnerships should read chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and use the CD to conduct workshops to prepare school-based Action Teams for Partnerships (ATPs) to improve their partnership plans and practices. The Handbook will enable district leaders to facilitate schools’ ATPs in preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools to organize, implement, evaluate, and continually improve their programs of family and community involvement.
- Epstein, J. L. (2008). Research Meets Policy and Practice: How Are School Districts Addressing NCLB Requirements for Parental Involvement? Pp. 267-279 in A. R. Sadovnik et al. (eds.) No Child Left Behind and the Reduction of the Achievement Gap: Sociological Perspectives on Federal Educational Policy. NY: Routledge.
- This study presents the first quantitative analyses of whether and how well school districts are addressing federal requirements for improving programs of family involvement. Using data from 69 districts that were members of the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University, analyses indicated that leaders who sustained their work over time did more to organize their work on partnerships, build collegial support for partnerships, facilitate their schools, and help schools address challenges to reach more diverse families. The long-term leaders were more likely to report that their schools were making good progress in developing and evaluating their programs of family and community involvement.
- Epstein, J. L., Galindo, C., & Sheldon, S. B. (2011). Levels of Leadership: Effects of District and School Leaders on the Quality of School Programs of Family and Community Involvement. Educational Administration Quarterly, 47, 462-495.
- Survey data from a “nested” sample of 24 districts and their 407 schools are analyzed with advanced methods to learn if and how district-level leadership matters for improving schools’ partnership programs. Results show that principals’ support for family and community involvement is important, but that over and above school measures, district leaders’ direct facilitation contributes to the quality of the school programs. Consistent leadership over three years helps schools implement basic and advanced activities to increase family engagement.
- Epstein, J. L. & Sheldon, S. B. (2006). Moving Forward: Ideas for Research on School, Family, and Community Partnerships. Pp. 117-137 in C. F. Conrad & R. Serlin (Eds.) SAGE Handbook for research in education: Engaging ideas and enriching inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- The authors discuss seven principles that guide researchers and educators to think in new ways about the structures, processes, and results of family and community involvement in education. They point to the need to use the term of school, family, and community partnerships to recognize the shared responsibilities of educators, parents, and others for children’s development and learning; understand the multidimensional nature of involvement; see partnerships as a component of school and classroom organization; recognize multilevel leadership at all policy levels; focus involvement on student success; strive for equity to involve all families; and advance knowledge with more and better research.
- Honig, M. I. (2008). District Central Offices as Learning Organizations: How Sociocultural and Organizational Learning Theories Elaborate District Central Office Administrators’ Participation in Teaching and Learning Improvement Efforts. American Journal of Education, 114, 627-664.
- This article discusses urban district central offices as “learning organizations.” The discussion addresses the activities that are needed to create a “learning organization,” along with conditions that help or hinder these activities. The author raises questions for practitioners to consider in the context of their own work.
- Sanders, M. G. (2014). Principal Leadership for School, Family, and Community Partnerships: The Role of a Systems Approach to Reform Implementation. American Journal of Education, 120, 233-255.
- This longitudinal multiple case study reveals how urban and suburban district-level policies and practices affected principals’ responses to improving school, family, and community partnerships in their schools. District leaders facilitated principals’ effective implementation of the NNPS reform by creating clear expectations, establishing coherent contexts, and providing tangible supports and rewards, which in turn, reduced school leaders’ resistance over time.
- Sanders, M. (2008). How Parent Liaisons Can Help Bridge Home and School. Journal of Educational Research, 101: 287-297.
- The article discusses practical recommendations for districts seeking to establish or improve liaison programs to build stronger ties between schools and the families of all students.
- Sanders, M. G. (2008). Using Diverse Data to Develop and Sustain School, Family, and Community Partnerships: A District Case Study. Education Management, Administration, and Leadership, 36. 530-545.
- This article reports the results of a case study of district leadership for school, family, and community partnerships in a suburban district. It focuses how and why the district-level leader for family and community involvement used different kinds of data to achieve specific goals that are linked to program growth, improvement, and sustainability.
- Sanders, M. G., and S. B. Sheldon. (2009). Principals Matter: A Guide to School, Family, and Community Partnerships. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Research shows that strong principal leadership is crucial for developing effective and equitable programs of family and community engagement. The book provides administrators with a clear road map for initiating partnership programs that are goal-linked, well planned, and sustainable.
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- Middle and High Schools
- Epstein, J. L. (2007). Family and Community Involvement. Pp. 165-173 in K. Borman, S. Cahill, & B. Cotner (Eds.). The Praeger Handbook of American High Schools. Westport, CT: Praeger.
- This chapter discusses how high schools can develop effective programs of school, family, and community partnerships with age-appropriate engagement activities that support student success from grades 9-12.
- >Epstein, J. L., et al., (2009). Chapter 6: Strengthening Partnership Programs in Middle and High Schools. Pp. 193-234 in School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
- Three articles summarize research and practical approaches to family and community involvement in secondary schools. Additional reproducible materials are included to use in workshops for Action Teams for Partnerships in middle and high school ATPs and in presentations to leaders who will assist middle and high schools with their partnership programs.
- Epstein, J. L. & Hutchins, D. J. (2011). Family involvement. Chapter 15, pp. 181-198 in This we believe in action: Implementing successful middle level schools. Westerville OH: Association for Middle Level Education.
- One key component of successful middle level schools is the involvement of all students’ families in education—at school and at home. Many middle grades schools still struggle to implement research-based, comprehensive, and goal-linked partnership programs. This chapter guides educators in the middle grades to move from strong beliefs of the importance of family and community involvement to action with good plans, teamwork, and goal-linked partnership practices that contribute to student success in the middle grades.
- Harvard Family Research Project. (2011). Family Engagement for High School Success.
- The United Way initiative, Family Engagement for High School Success, aimed to increase the involvement of families of economically-disadvantaged high school students and reduce the high school drop-out rate. This evaluation reports results of the first phase of this work on plans and research strategies to understand successful approaches to reach important high school goals.
- Hill, N. E., Castellino, D. R., Lansford, J. E., Nowlin, P., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., and Pettit, G. S. (2004). Parent Academic Involvement as Related to School Behavior, Achievement, and Aspirations: Demographic Variations across Adolescence. Child Development, 75, 1491-1509.
- This longitudinal study reports relationships of parental involvement with students’ academic achievement, behavior, and aspirations from the 7th through 12th grade.
- Kreider, H., Caspe, M., Kennedy, S., Weiss, H., (2007). Family Involvement in Middle and High School Students’ Education. Research Brief, #3. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.
- The article summarizes research on the influence of family involvement on adolescents' learning and development.
- Sanders, M. G. & Lewis, K. (2005). Building Bridges Toward Excellence: Community Involvement in High Schools. High School Journal, 88 (3): 1-9.
- This study reports patterns of community partnerships in high schools. It includes information about types of motivations for community partnerships at the high school level and advice from school leaders about building community connections.
- Simon, Beth S. 2004. High School Outreach and Family Involvement. Social Psychology of Education, 7, 185-209.
- This article reports a study of individual-level reports from parents about their perceptions of school outreach and their own involvement activities. Results show that high schools' outreach positively and significantly predicted parents' involvement on several parenting, volunteering, and learning at home activities.
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- Appleseed. (2006). It Takes a Parent: Transforming Education in the Wake of the No Child Left Behind Act. Washington, DC.
- This report describes how educators in six states and 18 school districts addressed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) recommendations and other state and local policies to engage parents as partners in education. To date, strong policies across locations tend to be weakly implemented. The report calls for more and swifter action to develop programs that fulfill policies to involve parents and the community in ways that increase students’ academic achievement and other school outcomes.
- California Department of Education. (2014). Local Control Accountability Plan and the Local Control Funding Formula. Also see:
for Local Control Funding Formula Frequently Asked Questions
- Districts, county offices of education, and charter schools are required to develop and annually update a three-year Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to meet eight state priorities. Educators—with parent and community input—must establish goals, take action, and evaluate progress on: high quality teachers and instruction; attaining state standards; engaging parents in decision making and in the education of students; increasing student achievement; supporting student engagement/attendance; improving school climate and reducing disciplinary actions; improving college and career readiness; and measuring other outcomes across subjects. Family engagement as a component of a good schools and will help districts and schools reach the other priorities in LCAP.
- Epstein, J. L. (2009). Chapter 7. Develop District and State Leadership for Partnerships. Pp. 235-273 in School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third edition, by J. L. Epstein et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- In this chapter, district and state policies and leadership activities are outlined to increase expertise on school, family, and community partnerships. Information is included on the cost of partnership programs and sources of funds. Checklists are provided to help district and state leaders organize their work and facilitate their schools to build capacities to work with their own students’ families. Useful inventories are included to help district and state leaders for partnerships plan and improve their programs and practices.
- United States Department of Education. (2013). Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships. Washington, D. C. Author.
- The US Department of Education released a research-based framework to guide schools to engage families and communities in children’s education. The framework encourages the development of family engagement initiatives for the success of students. It explains why it is important to effectively engage parents in their children’s education and why parents should engage with schools. The framework is discussed in detail in Partners in Education, published by SEDL in four sections: Challenge,Opportunity Conditions, Policy and Program Goals, and Family and Staff Capacity Outcomes.
WEB SITES AND ORGANIZATIONS
The following organizations have Web sites that guide the development of policies on school, family, and community partnerships. Also see, below, Web sites of selected State Departments of Education and Districts that post their policies of family and community engagement. These states and districts have policies that encourage the development of effective partnership programs that involve all families in ways that support student success in school.
- National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement
- The National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) is a newly formed professional association whose mission is to advance high-impact policies and practices of family, school, and community engagement, to promote child development, and to improve student achievement. NAFSCE aims serve as a gateway organization and Web site for information on policies, programs and practices that will help policy leaders, educators, and parents take action to improve partnership programs at the federal, state, district, and school levels.
- State Department of Education Web Sites
Information and resources for parents, family, and the community.
- Follow the path from Parents and Community to a Family and Community Involvement and Youth Development, to a School-Family-Community Partnerships. See Position Statement and Policy Guidance for the state and other useful documents.
- Select on this link or use search function for Family-School-Community Partnerships.
- District Web Sites
- Anoka-Hennepin School District, MN See School Partnership Teams.
- Buffalo Public Schools, NY
- Middletown Public Schools, CT
- Select the "Board of Education" option and follow links to "Policies and By-Laws", then "Community Relations", and Policy #1110.1, and see the section on "Parent Resources".
- Naperville Community School District 203, IL
- Choose the "Parents and Students" option and then, "School, Family, Community Partnerships".
- Pasco School District, WA
Choose Families and then→ School and Family Partnerships.
You may find policies on family engagement for your state/district on the Internet.
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Results for Students
Smith, S., Robbins, T., Stagman, S. & Mahur, D. (2013). Parent engagement from preschool through grade 3: A guide for policymakers. Report. New York: National Center for Children in Poverty.
- Catsambis, S., & Beveridge, A. A. (2001). Does neighborhood matter? Family, Neighborhood, and School Influences on Eighth Grade Mathematics Achievement. Sociological Focus, 34, 435-457.
This study explored whether and how neighborhoods and schools influence mathematics achievement on eighth grade students. Disadvantages at the neighborhood and school levels affect students at risk, by influencing students and their achievement in mathematics directly and indirectly.
- Edwards, P. (2004). Children’s Literacy Development: Making It Happen Through School, Family, and Community Involvement. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
This book features strategies and examples of family involvement to help students in the elementary grades improve their reading skills and attitudes about reading.
- Fan, X., & Chen, M. (2001). Parental involvement and students’ academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 13, 1–22.
This article is a summary of research on the importance of parental involvement in children's education. The results support the belief that parental involvement has a significant impact across various populations. Not only does voluntary parental involvement have an influence, but programs for parents also are important. Teachers, principals, and school counselors should familiarize themselves with the aspects of parental involvement that are most influential for student outcomes to guide parents’ activities.
- Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A New Wave of Evidence:
The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
The authors reviewed 51 studies on family involvement and student achievement conducted in the 1990s in diverse communities and at all grade levels—preschool through high school. They also reviewed research on the importance of school and community connections. The studies included experimental, quasi-experimental, and correlational studies with statistical controls and carefully designed case studies. The evidence indicates that family and community connections with schools make a difference in student success. The common conclusions, across studies, set an important agenda for action.
- Jeynes, W. H. (2005). A Meta-Analysis of the Relation of Parental Involvement to Urban Elementary School Student Academic Achievement. Urban Education, 40, 237-269.
The article presents a meta-analysis of 41 studies, examining the relationship between parental involvement and the academic achievement of urban elementary school children.
See two additional meta-analyses by William Jeynes that summarize the results of hundreds of studies of family and community engagement.
- Jeynes, W. H. (2010). The salience of the subtle aspects of parental involvement and encouraging that involvement: Implications for school-based programs. Teachers College Record, 112, 747-774.
- Jeynes, W. H. (2012). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of different types of parental involvement programs for urban students. Urban Education, 47, 706-742.
- Powell, D. R., Son, S. File N., & Froiland, J. M. (2013). Changes in parent involvement across the transition from public school prekindergarten to 1st grade and children’s academic outcomes. The Elementary School Journal, 113, 276–300.
This study explored changes in family behaviors from preschool to kindergarten for effects on children literacy, language, and math skills. The degree of change (more or less) from preschool to kindergarten of families’ cognitive stimulation of young children and variety of out-of-home experiences affected their first grade mathematics skills.
- Sheldon, S. B. (2009). Chapter 1.3. Improving Student Outcomes with School, Family, and Community Partnerships: A Research Review. Pp. 40-56 in School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third edition, by Epstein et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
This book guides educators, parents, and students to address and reduce health and safety problems in schools. It explore issues of violence, bullying, drug abuse, internet safety, teen suicide, early sexual behavior, truancy, and other risky behaviors that interfere with the quality of school life and student learning and development, and offers strategies and tools to address these problems.
This chapter summarizes research on the results of family and community involvement for student success in school in reading, math, science, attendance, behavior, and other outcomes at the preschool, elementary, and secondary levels. The results of many studies show why well-implemented partnership programs should be linked to school improvement goals. Along with excellent teachers and well-managed schools, goal-oriented family and community involvement can affect a range of important student outcomes.
This report provides a summary of relevant research, models for good partnership programs, and recommendations for state policies to increase family engagement in children’s learning and development from preschool through grade 3. Family involvement in the early years is understood as important for children’s positive school outcomes across the grades. If children fall behind in learning basic reading and math skills, preK-3, they may struggle with learning and success in the later grades.
Snow, K. (2012). Family engagement and early childhood education. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
This brief (Research You Can Use) summarized two studies that confirm the importance of family involvement in children’s early education. The first study looks at how frequently families engage in certain activities at home that promote students’ readiness skills. The second study examines family home practices as they relate to child outcomes in Head Start. Meaningful family engagement in children’s early learning supports school readiness and later academic success. Parental involvement is one of National Assoication for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC’s) standards for programs serving young children.
Van Voorhis, F. L., Maier, M., Epstein, J. L., & Lloyd, C. M. (2013). The Impact of Family Involvement on the Education of Children Ages 3-8. A Focus on Literacy and Math Achievement Outcomes and Social-Emotional Skills.
Researchers reviewed 95 studies on how family involvement with preschool children affects the literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional skills of young children. The review also offers recommendations for additional lines of inquiry and discusses next steps in research and practice.
WEB SITES AND ORGANIZATIONS
The following organizations (arranged alphabetically) have programs and Web sites that report results of family and community engagement on student learning and development.
- Center for Mental Health in Schools
School Mental Health Project (SMHP) at UCLA conducts research and disseminates information on policies, programs, and practices that improve student learning and mental health. SMPH studies and supports policies and strategies to reduce the fragmentation of school programs, support the mental health of students, and increase collaborations of educators, parents, and community leaders. In monthly e-newsletters, SMHP updates lists of published research, conferences, Web sites, and resources for educators and others working on school improvement, students’ achievement, family and community involvement, and mental health. In 2015, the center established the National Initiative for Transforming Student and Learning Supports to encourage more coherent approaches to student learning and development.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Parent Engagement Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health. (2012) and
Promoting Parent Engagement. (2012) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services.
- Research shows that protective factors in the lives of children and adolescents—including the involvement of families—can help students avoid risky behaviors such as tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use and maintain good health, regular school attendance, and high achievement. These publications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) summarize research on school, family, and community partnerships; define and describe parent engagement; and identify specific strategies and actions that schools can take to increase parent engagement in schools’ health promotion activities.
- Harvard Family Research Project-FINE Newsletter
FINE Newsletter, March 2015. Engaging Families, Schools, and Communities in the Transition to School
- A smooth transition to kindergarten makes a difference for student outcomes. This newsletter explores the evidence-base supporting the importance of the transition to elementary school. It also profiles programs in districts that serve vulnerable students that are working to address inequalities in family involvement in the transition from preschool to kindergarten.
- National Network of Partnership Schools: Results for Students:
- Follow the link on this Web site to Research and Evaluation. Select the Publications List and scroll down to Results for Students for research on The Effects of Family and Community Involvement on Student Outcomes.
- Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families, and Schools in the College of Education & Human Sciences
- The Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) conducts interdisciplinary research on the intellectual, behavioral, and social-emotional development of children and youth across contexts of home and school. Studies examine how learning and development are affected by the design, content, and interactions of the complex systems of the family, educators, and their interactions. Presently, studies are being conducted to understand and improve early childhood education, the health and well being of youth, rural education, and the effects of academic interventions and programs.
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- Dardig, J. C. (2008). Involving Parents of Students with Special Needs. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- This practical book provides 25 strategies that teachers can use to involve all parents in the education of their children, including those with specific learning needs, including cognitive, emotional/behavioral, social, sensory, and physical disabilities. These include engaging parents with children on language skills at home, preparing for parent-teacher conferences, dealing with conflicts or disagreements, and connecting parents with needed resources.
Several suggestions on how educators can take stock of whether and how their schools’ partnership programs involve families with children who have special needs.
- Wandry, D. & Pleet, A. (2009). Engaging and Empowering Families in Secondary Transition. Arlington VA: Council for Exceptional Children.
- This book includes discussions and tools for assessing whether and how well families and educators work together during the school years to help students with disabilities attain positive school outcomes and plan for the transition from school to society. The book explores how parents and teachers work together on the IEP process, on students’ learning and independence, as evaluators and decision makers, and more.
WEB SITES AND ORGANIZATIONS
The following organizations (arranged alphabetically) have programs and Web sites that provide information and publications on family and community engagement to support the learning and development of students with special needs.
- Beach Center on Disability
- Beach Center on Disability conducts research, examines policies, and prepares special education teachers and administrators for their work with students with special needs. On the Web site see the Resource Library and the section on Family and Professional Partnerships.
- National Association of Special Education Teachers
- National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) is a membership organization for special education teachers and those preparing for special education teaching. The Web site includes useful examples of handouts for parent-teacher conferences and other topics on parental involvement.
- Office of Special Education Programs / US Department of Education
- The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is the home base for information and resources which serve about 7 million children and youth with disabilities. IDEA, the federal legislation to ensure that children with special needs receive free and appropriate public education, includes important school and family connections to support students with special needs, including, but not limited to, the development and conduct of students’ Individual Education Programs (IEPs).
- Pacer Center
- This center aims to enhance the quality of life and learning of children, youth, and young adults with disabilities. It also provides services to help parents guide their children and connect families with others to provide a rich learning environment for children at all grade levels and in the transition process.
- Resources Related to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
- Visit these Web sites for resources related to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations. Parents must be involved in many aspects of IDEA including decisions about their children’s placement, consent for services to students, and annual education plans.
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Stories from the Field
- Hutchins, D. J., Greenfeld, M. D., & Epstein, J. L. (2015). Family Reading Nights, 2nd Edition. New York: Taylor & Francis.
- This practical book presents step-by-step guidelines and reproducible activities to help educators in grades K-5 organize effective and enjoyable Family Reading Nights. Each chapter provides ideas for a different kind of reading—fiction and nonfiction, with easy-to-implement activities for parents and students. The activities for whole groups or grade-level subgroups are in English and Spanish, and are downloadable from the publisher.
- Westmoreland, H., Rosenberg, H. M., Lopez, M. E., & Weiss, H. (2009). Seeing is Believing: Promising Practices for How School Districts Promote Family Engagement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project and National PTA.
- School districts play important roles in guiding schools to develop programs of family and community involvement. This Parent-Teacher Association(PTA) and Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) Issue Brief describes how some districts have developed and implemented policies for partnership programs in all schools as part of the district’s core mission. Case studies from districts in many parts of the country are featured that show how school, family, and community connections contribute to student success in school.
Surveys for Research and Evaluation on Partnerships
- Improve Preservice and Advanced Education on Partnerships
For several decades, research articles on family and community involvement in schools have ended with a plea to improve preservice and advanced education so that teachers and principals enter their professions with knowledge and skills to work productively with students’ parents and with community partners. Courses, texts, supplementary readings, and formal syllabi are increasing the options for professors of education to prepare future teachers and administrators to understand that family and community involvement is an essential part of good school organization.
- de Bruïne, E. J., Willemse, T. M., D’Haem, J., Griswold, P. Vloeberghs, L., & van Eynde, S. (2014). Preparing teacher candidates for family–school partnerships. European Journal of Teacher Education, 37, 409–425.
- Studies indicate that future teachers are ill prepared to establish family-school partnerships in their professional work in schools. In this study, opinions of the roles of partnerships and programs of teacher education were compared in three universities in the Netherlands, Belgium, and US. The programs introduced the importance of communication, but not the complex structure and processes of partnership programs for student success in school. Preservice education was not systematic nor equitable, but was up to individual teacher educators.
- Deslandes, R., H. Fourier, and L. Morin. (2008). Evaluation of a School, Family, and Community Partnerships Program for Preservice Teachers in Quebec, Canada. Journal of Educational Thought, 42, 27-52.
- This article discusses a study that investigated the impact of a program for preservice teachers on school, family, and community partnerships. The study focused on Competency 9, one of the twelve professional competencies required of all preservice teachers by the Quebec Ministry of Education. Competency 9 states: "Co-operate with the school team, parents, various social partners, and students with a view to achieving the educational objectives of the school."
- Epstein, J. L. (2011). School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Preparing Educators and Improving Schools. Second Edition. Boulder, CO: Westview.
- This textbook for preservice and advanced college courses includes chapters on theory, research, policy, and practice. The goal is to prepare future teachers and administrators to think about, talk about, and take action to develop comprehensive programs of family and community involvement linked to student success in school. Chapters include readings, discussion topics, activities, and projects and help professors guide students in educational administration, methods of teaching, and related courses to understand new directions in research and in practice for developing effective partnership programs.
- Epstein, J. L., and M. G. Sanders. (2006). Prospects for Change: Preparing Educators for School, Family, and Community Partnerships. Peabody Journal of Education 81(2): 81-120.
- This study explores the preparation of future teachers and administrators to conduct school, family, and community partnerships. The data suggest that deans and other university leaders must be active change agents to guide their institutions to prepare future educators to conduct effective family and community involvement programs and practices.
- Garcia, D. C. (2004). Exploring Connections between the Construct of Teacher Efficacy and Family Involvement Practices. Urban Education, 39: 290-315.
- This study explores the relationship between perceived teacher efficacy and specific practices of family involvement exhibited by 110 elementary school teachers from a large urban school district. The study raised questions related to the effective preparation of teachers in this area and the types of experiences that facilitate the development of teacher efficacy beliefs about home-school and community partnerships.
- Lopez, E., & Patton, C. (2013). Strengthening Family Engagement through Teacher Preparation and Professional Development. Harvard Family Research Project FINE Newsletter, Volume V, Issue 4, December 5, 2013.
- This commentary highlights the importance of teacher preparation in family engagement. It describes how the Harvard Family Research Project is working to advance educator training in this area.
- Quezada, R. L., Alexandrowitz, V. & Molina, S. C. (Eds.) (2013). Family, school, community engagement. Teaching Education, 24 (full issue).
- The articles in this special issue contribute ideas for strengthening college courses on family and community engagement. They report studies indicating that college courses on family and community engagement increase teachers’ knowledge, empathy, and confidence in working collaboratively with parents and community partners. Preservice education programs are needed to better prepare future teachers, principals, counselors, and district leaders to conduct more equitable and meaningful communications with all students’ families.
Evaluation has been missing from most programs of family and community involvement. Schools may use exit surveys to collect parents’ reactions to workshops. These serve a purpose, but do not help schools understand how well they have organized the components of their partnership programs or their progress in reaching out to all families from year to year. Now, indicators and tested measures are available to enable districts and schools to assess the quality and progress of partnership programs.
In addition, surveys for parents, teachers, and students in elementary, middle, and high schools are available with reliable subscales and tested items on attitudes and behaviors of family involvement for research studies, dissertations, and general needs assessments.
Surveys for Research Studies
- Epstein, J. L. & Sheldon, S. B. (2009). Chapter 9. Evaluate Programs of Partnership: Critical Considerations. Pp. 309-323 in School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third Edition, by J. L. Epstein et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- This chapter emphasizes the importance of evaluating school-based partnership programs every year. It includes essential “built in” tools that help elementary, middle, and high schools evaluate the merits of every family engagement activity that is implemented and a measure to assess the progress of their partnership programs
- Westmoreland, H., Bouffard, S., O'Carroll, K., Rosenberg, H. (2009). Data Collection Instruments for Evaluating Family Involvement.M Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project
- This resource from Harvard Family Research Project includes a comprehensive list of data collection measures for use in the evaluation of and research on family involvement programs. As evidence mounts that family involvement can support children's learning, there is an increasing need for useful data collection instruments to measure patterns of communication from school to home and from home to school, and other aspects of family involvement.
See the NNPS Web site http://www.partnershipschools.org and the section Publications and Products. Scroll down to Surveys for information on the following surveys and how to obtain them.
Surveys for the Elementary and Middle Grades
- Questionnaires for teachers, parents, and students on school, family, and community partnerships were developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The scales and measures have been used by professors, graduate students, and school districts to study current partnership practices in schools and families, attitudes, interests, and needed improvements in programs of family and community involvement, and to explore related research questions. They include:
Surveys for High Schools
- Sheldon, S. B. & Epstein, J. L. (2007). Parent Survey on Family and Community Involvement in the Elementary and Middle Grades.
- Sheldon, S. B. & Epstein, J. L. (2007). Student Survey on Family and Community Involvement in the Elementary and Middle Grades.
- Epstein, J. L. & Salinas, K. C. (1993) Surveys and Summaries: Questionnaires for Teachers and Parents in the Elementary and Middle Grades.
- Baltimore: Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, Johns Hopkins University.
- Epstein, J. L., Connors-Tadros, L. & Salinas, K. C. (1993). High School and Family Partnerships: Surveys for Teachers, Parents, and Students in High School.
- Baltimore: Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, Johns Hopkins University.
- Reliability statistics for all scales are provided.
- A letter of permission to use, adapt, or translate the surveys for a particular also is provided.
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