Report: Parental Engagement for Student Success

What does family engagement look like, and how can schools maximize the impact?
Communicator
February 2019, Volume 42, Issue 6

What does family engagement look like and how can schools maximize its impact? That’s just what researchers looked at in a new report published by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In “Joining Together to Create a Bold Vision for Next Generation Family Engagement,” researchers say that successfully engaging families depends on what it refers to as five high-leverage areas.

What Engagement Looks Like

Schools that have found success in engaging students’ families often follow a similar pattern. The report looks at how one school in particular found success. Here’s how they did it.

Ask and listen. Communicating with families to find out what concerns they had allowed the school to focus on three areas: inadequate health care, neighborhood crime and security, and lack of afterschool activities and jobs for teenagers. Then—and this is key—all stakeholders were informed of these areas of concern.

Empower. This particular school established a formal partnership with a local college. What’s important here is that schools connect with available resources in the community. Schools should empower parents to be an integral part of this process by including them in the decision-making process when they’re determining which of these resources to use.

Share perspectives and information. At this point, a trust has been established between parents and the schools, and to keep the trust, schools should be transparent. At this school, leaders met with parents to discuss academic achievement results, which they noted were good for the school but fell short state-wide. Parents then demanded change from the school leaders.

Partner, codesign, implement, assess, and improve. Working together, parents and teachers and school leaders increased their academic expectations for students while improving instructional practices to a level that has been shown to make a real difference in the performance of children with economic disadvantages.  

Lead and advocate. The parents at this school asked for help from the teachers to learn how they could support student learning at home. Teachers provided suggestions like “fostering a growth mindset, identifying and building on children’s interests and strengths; monitoring homework, attendance, and performance; and holding high expectations for achievement, school success, and postsecondary education and work.”

Five High-Leverage Areas

The report then breaks down five areas schools can focus on to maximize the impact of family engagement. They are:

  • Attendance;
  • Digital media;
  • Transitions;
  • Data sharing; and
  • Academic and social development.

This article was summarized from the report. Find the full report on the Carnegie Corp. of New York website.

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