Family Engagement

Is your school engaged in systematic efforts to involve, engage, and collaborate with its families and community? Recognizing that families are students' first teachers and can become allies in increasing student achievement, it is essential to engage families in an effective and welcoming manner, to go beyond the basic bake sale and understand where children live, their cultures, and how to use this information to improve school climate and academics.

Family Engagement as defined by the National Family, School, and Community Working group is:

A shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to engaging families in meaningful and culturally respectful ways, and families are committed to actively supporting their children's learning and development.
• Continuous across a child's life, spanning from Early Head Start programs to college preparation high schools.
• Carried out everywhere that children learn – at home, in pre-kindergarten programs, in
school, in after-school programs, in faith-based institutions, and in community programs and


Harvard Graduate School of Education Pre-K-12 Family-School Relationships Survey

This handout answers frequently asked questions from potential users of the new family engagement survey produced by HGSE and Survey Monkey. The survey is designed to conduct a needs assessment, measure change over time, and evaluate an intervention in a k-12 school or organization. Scales which can be measured include family support, child behaviors, fit of the school for the child, parent self-efficacy, family engagement, barriers to engagement, school climate, and roles and responsibilities. The survey can be distributed in a flexible manner and offers easy to understand results which can help schools and organizations to understand how family engagement can be improved. Dowload the pdf here.

Making Data Work: A Parent and Community Guide

According to this guide from The Education Trust, the use of data is a powerful tool to help schools raise achievement and erase gaps among different groups. This guide is designed to help parents and community members better understand and use this data to focus their efforts on changing their schools for the better. Click here to download the guide.

Setting the Stage: The Family Engagement Field

According to the Flamboyan Foundation, most schools don't invest in the most effective family engagement strategies based on research. This rundown on the importance of engagement explains why it matters and what roles families can play. Click here to download the page.

Schools Are Using Social Networking to Involve Parents

Schools are beginning to use mediums such as Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging to provide news, updates, and information to parents instantly in multiple languages. According to this article from Education Week, these digital engagement initiatives are cost-effective and many believe that access to digital learning levels the playing field for less educated parents. Thus, many school leaders are investing in programs to teach parents how they can use technology. However, schools must also be aware of the fact that parents have uneven access to technology and the internet due to socioeconomic disparities. Read more here.

Family and Community Partnering: "On the Team and At the Table"

This training module for family and community partnering was developed by the Colorado Department of Education. Created to be applicable to all family-school partnering situations and includes universal and targeted approaches, communication resources are provided for schools, principals, and teachers, as well as planning and evaluation tools. Click here to download the module.


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