Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Family Engagement for High School Success" Toolkit Targets At-Risk Students

The Harvard Family Research Project, in collaboration with United Way Worldwide, has released The Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit. Based on research from 15 pilot sites throughout the nation, this toolkit is designed for community organizations striving to develop family and community engagement strategy focused on academic success. Although the tools and guidance presented in the toolkit can be used to inform a general family engagement framework, this toolkit specifically explores how family engagement strategies can improve academic outcomes for students there are at risk of dropping out of high school.

Research consistently indicates that family engagement is a critical component academic achievement, particularly for low-income students that are more likely to live in under-resourced neighborhoods. For students that are at-risk of dropping out of high school, attending a school that values family input, understands the social and cultural contexts of families in the community and successfully leverages community resources can dramatically impact a student’s decision to remain in school and value academic achievement.

The toolkit is divided into two sections and highlights examples from the 15 pilot programs to describe what the planning and implementation process look like in actual communities.

Part 1 addresses the planning that is involved in developing a “family engagement for high school success” initiative, including:

  • Using local data to inform your program goals and develop desired results
  • Identifying community partners that can promote and support program goals
  • Engaging families, students and school personnel in identifying the obstacles and community-specific needs
  • Developing a plan that uses data to measure progress, improve program functioning and communicate with schools, families and the community

Part 2 of the handbook focuses in the first year of implementing the family engagement strategy, which involves continued efforts to engage community partners, develop data collection systems and effectively launch outreach strategies that will engage families and students.

For more information about the Harvard Family Research Project and the toolkit, please click here.

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