Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Engaging Parents to Improve Academic Outcomes for Children

Parent engagement has been proven to be important for children’s academic achievement. A recent report from the Harvard Family Research Project, Beyond Random Acts: Family, School, and Community Engagement as an Integral Part of Education Reform, advocates reframing the way we think about family engagement towards a more intentional alignment of family engagement strategies with school reform efforts to improve student success. Rather than seeing parents and families as bystanders and keeping family engagement efforts siloed from student learning, we must implement a systemic and integrated approach that sees families as true partners. The report also examines policy opportunities that could influence the resources and support available to ensure sustainable family engagement strategies.

To guide communities on how to sustain parent engagement efforts, CSSP’s recent toolkit, Growing and Sustaining Parent Engagement: A Toolkit for Parents and Community Partners, includes information, examples, and helpful questions that parents and community partners can draw from in developing strategies that reflect their unique priorities and communities. It provides how to’s for implementing three powerful strategies for maintaining and growing parent engagement work that is already underway: Creating a Parent Engagement -
  • Roadmap to help communities establish a consistent set of values and principles to guide decisions and a defined path towards achieving its goals;
  • Checklist to help parents and community partners assess their progress in following the Roadmap and aligning strategies with their core principles and values; and  
  • Support Network to allow community members to learn from each other and share successful strategies
Critical to ensuring that children are safe, healthy, successful in school and prepared for the responsibilities of adulthood is a commitment to the authentic involvement of constituents - residents, families, community leaders, parents and youth - as expert advisors in improving these outcomes for children. CSSP’s work in communities has been guided by this notion that service, system, policy and community improvements are most effective and sustainable when community residents are fully engaged as partners and leaders. Parents are seen as critical co-investors in the design and delivery of services, resources and system improvements intended to help them and their children.

For more information on parent and community engagement strategies please visit: http://www.cssp.org/community/constituents-co-invested-in-change

Additional Resources:

Family Engagement as a Systemic, Sustained, and Integrated Strategy to Promote Student Achievement, Harvard Research Project

Reframing Family Involvement in Education: Supporting Families to Support Educational Equity, The Campaign for Educational Equity, Teacher’s College Columbia University

Seeing is Believing: Promising Practices for How School Districts Promote Family Engagement, Harvard Family Research Project

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