Family Partnership

School, Family & Community Partnerships

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Overlapping Spheres of Influence


Family Involvement: A Key Component of Student & School Success

The term “parent involvement” is used to describe participation by a child’s primary caretaker(s) – whether that is a single mom, two parents, grandparents, foster parents, or an older sibling. More broadly, many parent involvement programs also address the needs of the entire family and include younger siblings and others’ roles in creating school success.

(“Community Schools in Illinois” series published in collaboration with the Illinois Family Partnership Network)

Reflection:

  • What do you see as the benefits of School, Family & Community Partnerships (or Family Involvement)
  • What do you see as the costs of schools not partnering with Family & Community

Why Focus on Family Involvement?

  • Required in IDEA
  • Builds positive relationships
  • Encourages new behaviors
  • Reinforces skills (maintenance)
  • Increases self-satisfaction and optimism among youth, parents, and teachers

Schools that are committed to student success are creative in accommodating students and families

  • Replacing punitive processes with ones that seek to understand and improve a child’s situation
  • Creating schedules, policies, and programs that take into account students’ home-life challenges

(Henderson and Berla, p.168-p.171, Failure is Not an Option, Blankstein, Corwin and Hope, 2004)

No Child Left Behind

  • Require schools to develop ways to get parentsmore involved in their child’s education and in improving schools.
  • Requires that states and local school districtsprovide information to help parents makeinformed educational choices for their child.

(http://www.ed.gov/nclb/)

(31) PARENT-The term parent' includes a legal guardian or other person standing in loco parentis (such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom the child lives, or a person who is legally responsible for the child's welfare).

(32) PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT-The term parental involvement' means the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring …

  • that parents play an integral role in assisting their child's learning;
  • that parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child's education at school;
  • that parents are full partners in their child's education and are included, as appropriate, in decision making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child;

(www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg107.html)

IDEA 2004

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 will help children learn better by promoting accountability for results, enhancing parent involvement, using proven practices and materials, providing more flexibility, and reducing paperwork burdens for teachers, states and local school districts.”

What are the Guidelines According to the Research?

Standards identified by the National PTA build on six types of parent involvement identified by Dr. Joyce L. Epstein of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University:

  • Parenting
  • Communicating
  • Volunteering
  • Student Learning
  • Shared Decision-Making
  • Collaborating with Community

Benefits of Family Involvement

  • Higher test scores
  • Better grades
  • Better attendance
  • Higher levels of homework completion
  • More positive student motivation
  • Improved attitudes about school work

Darsch, Miao, & Shippen. (2004) A Model for Involving Parents of Children with Learning and Behavior Problems in the Schools: Preventing School Failure 48(3), 24-35

Family Involvement has a positive effect on student behavior

  • When families are involved, students exhibit more positive attitudes and behavior.
  • When students report feeling support from both home and school, they have moreself-confidence, feel school is more important, and they tend to do better in school.
  • Student at-risk behaviors such as alcohol use, violence, and other anti-social behaviorsdecrease as parent involvement increases.

(National PTA, 10/28/2005)

Demonstrated Benefits to Teachers/Schools:

  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Higher ratings of teaching skills from bothparents and principals
  • Higher ratings of school effectiveness
  • Improved classroom behavior through increased knowledge of children’s family, cultural, and community contexts

(Adapted from Christenson, 1996)

Research Findings

  • Low-income African American children whose families maintained high rates ofparent participation in elementary school are more likely to complete high school.
  • Low-income African American children with mothers involved in their education showed more self-control in unruly and disorganized classrooms than children whose parents did not provide support.
  • Latino youth who are academically high achieving have parents who provide encouragement and emphasize the value ofeducation as a way out of poverty.
  • Harvard Family Research Project,2006
  • In fact the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is notincome or social status, but the extent to which the student’s family is able to:
  • Create a home environment that encourages learning
  • Become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community

(Henderson and Berla, 1997)

“At all grade levels, the evidence suggests that school policies, teacher practices and family practices are more important than race, parent education, family size, marital status and even grade level in determining whether parents continue to be part of their children’s education.”

(Joyce Epstein)

“No matter what the demographics, students are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills, graduate and go on to post­secondary education when schools and families partner

(Karen Mapp, Family Involvement Equals Student Success No Matter Background, August 10, 2006)

Best-Practices to Meaningfully Involve Families

Prepare staff to work with families

  • Help those who work with families take differentperspectives on situations by discussing hypothetical cases from different familymembers’ points of view.
  • Ask staff to evaluate their own assumptions and beliefs about the families with whom they work.
  • Develop staff communication skills.
  • Provide staff time to process with others difficultconversations or situations.

(Harvard Family Research Project, October 2006)

Help families create homes that get children ready to learn

  • Enable families to share information with the school about culture, background, children's talents and needs.
  • Find out where to refer parents/guardians for family support programs that help with health,nutrition or other services.
  • Participate in neighborhood meetings to help families understand schools and to help schools understand families.

(Based on a Best-Practice Model Created by Dr. Joyce Epstein and Adapted by Seattle Public Schools)

Tell what's going on at school, and encourage families to share home events

  • Respect parents‘/guardians’ perspective on their child's abilities and progress. They know their own child in a different setting than you do.
  • Expect to disagree once in a while and embrace the opportunity to see things from a new point of view.

(Based on a Best-Practice Model Created by Dr. Joyce Epstein and Adapted by Seattle Public Schools)

Recruit and organize family help and support

  • Arrange to use parent/guardian and communityvolunteers in your classroom. Recruit widely sothat all families know their contributions are welcome. Provide training, and match time and talent with the work to be done
  • Communicate with parents/guardians at thebeginning of each year to identify talents, times and locations of volunteers.

(Based on a Best-Practice Model Created by Dr. Joyce Epstein and Adapted by Seattle Public Schools)

Focus on recruitment and commitment

  • Recruit families through face-to-face visits.
  • Ask current and former participants to help withrecruitment.
  • Hold meetings for parents during nontraditional hours, including weekends and evenings.
  • Provide transportation, infant care, and meals atmeetings.

(Harvard Family Research Project, October 2006)

Let families know the best ways to help students learn

  • If students have several teachers, coordinate homework assignments.
  • Provide calendars with activities for parents/guardians and students at home.
  • Ask families to participate in setting student goals each year, and help them look ahead to college or work.
  • Based on a Best-Practice Model Created by Dr. Joyce Epstein and Adapted by Seattle Public Schools

Seek out and use community resources that can strengthen school programs

  • Help match community contributions to school goals; align child and family services withlearning standards.
  • As a class or school, have students, families and staff provide service to the community. Among the possibilities are recycling, art, music ordrama performances for seniors.
  • Bring alumni back to participate in school programs for students.

(Based on a Best-Practice Model Created by Dr. Joyce Epstein and Adapted by Seattle Public Schools)

Develop family leaders and include them in school decisions

  • Be sure school councils and other school governance committees include family representatives.
  • Nominate family members from your school for regional and district councils and committees.
  • Encourage parents/guardians from all segments of the school population to become leaders and to get leadership training.

(Based on a Best-Practice Model Created by Dr. Joyce Epstein and Adapted by Seattle Public Schools)

IL Examples of How to Involve Families

  • At the time of registration and /or open house provide families with information on PBIS and encourage families to consider signing up to be involved with PBIS activities/teams.
  • Families participate in the design and implementation of school-wide celebrations
  • Families are awarded acknowledgements (‘gotchas’) for their involvement at school
  • Special activities which increase family awareness of school supports offered to the students.
  • Families volunteer to participate, support, and develop the PBIS Universal Store
  • Families are invited to be active on PBIS teams
  • Family members can volunteer at lunch or bus to supervise and acknowledge expected behavior
  • Improve school climate and increase familyfriendly atmosphere through new routines andactivities (meet at buses, offer coffee)
  • Families receive acknowledgement when theirchildren act in appropriate and exceptional ways
  • Family organization supports PBIS activities bydesignating a special line item in their annual budget.

Host a ‘Back to School Family Night’ to share information:

  1. School-wide expectations.
  2. School ‘acknowledgements’ described.
  3. School matrix sent home for posting on the refrigerator.
  4. Tips for helping students with ‘before and after’ school routines

IL Tips/Materials for Families

  • Provide families with a PBIS calendar of when cool tools will be instructed at school and provide families with the cool tools for teaching at home.
  • ‘Gotchas’ of a different color for home-students can bring them back to school or families can create their own system for home.
  • Families are informed about PBIS with speciallydesigned handbooks, mini-binders, newsletters and school websites.
  • PBIS family newsletter with cool tools for home.
  • Provide tools to parents to help them to understand function of behavior and behavior modification.
  • Families of new students can be presented a DVD upon enrollment in school. The result will be a visual, in addition to the written, Student Success Guide.

Assess:

  • Is the data useful/accurate? Do you review this data in Universal team meetings? What are some other indicators?
  • What does your data say about how well you involve families?

ISBE Family Involvement Data Source

  • Percent of students whose parents had personal contact with students' teachers.
  • Teachers include: all certified staff, such asstudent counselors and administrators.
  • Exclude form letters or notices; parental letters/callsrelating to student absences; regular notification ofgrades; student progress report cards; school reportcards; attendance at school athletic, music, drama events, and other co-curricular activities.

(Reported on ISBE “School Report Card DataCollection Form")

School, Family & Community Partnership efforts should help families…

  • Get a clear idea of what their children are learning and doing in the school
  • Promote high standards for student work
  • Gain skills to help their children at home
  • Understand what good teaching looks like
  • Discuss how to improve student progress

(Henderson, Mapp, et al. Beyond the Bake Sale: the Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships. The New Press, 2007.

Families want…

  • To feel welcome at school.
  • To receive more information on how to help their children succeed.
  • Positive feedback and personalized contact about their children whenever possible.
  • To be partners in the process of educating children, with timely notification of problems.

The Importance of Family Involvement

The evidence is now beyond dispute. When schools and families work together to support learning, children tend to succeed not just in school, but also throughout life.

(Henderson and Berla, 1997)

Books for Ed

  • School-Family Partnerships for Children’s Success. Patrikakou, Weissberg, Redding, and Walberg. Columbia, 2005
  • Schools and Families: Creating Essential Connections for Learning. Christenson and Sheridan. Guilford, 2001
  • Parenting with Positive Behavior Support.Hieneman and Childs. Brookes, 2006
  • Beyond the Bake Sale: the Essential Guide toFamily/School Partnerships. Henderson, Johnson, Mapp and Davies. New Press, 2007
  • Individualized Supports for Students withProblem Behaviors: Designing PositiveBehavior Plans. Bambara and Kern. Guilford Press, 2005
  • School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook in Action, 2nd edition. Epstein, Sanders, Simon. Corwin, 2002

Tips for Schools on How to Involve Families

The following examples are based on a best-practice model created by Dr. Joyce Epstein and adapted by Seattle Public Schools:

Best Practice #1: Parenting Skills: Help families create homes that get children ready to learn.

  1. Be sure information gets to all families who want or need it, not just the few who can come to meetings at school.
  2. Enable families to share information with the school about culture, background, children's talents and needs.
  3. Encourage your school to provide workshops, videotapes or computerized phone messages on parenting and child rearing, and to publicize community programs on nutrition, family literacy and adult education.
  4. Find out where to refer parents for family support programs that help with health, nutrition or other services.
  5. Participate in neighborhood meetings to help families understand schools and to help schools understand families.

Best Practice #2: Home-School Communication: Tell what's going on at school, and encourage parents to share home events.

  1. Follow up the annual parent-teacher conference with regular communications with parents. Know how to get information translated into the languages of your students' families.
  2. Consider parents who do not read well and arrange for phone calls in their native language.
  3. Every week or every month, send home folders of student work for parents' review and comment.
  4. Have a regular schedule to send home useful notices, memos or newsletters.
  5. Respect parents' perspective on their child's abilities and progress. They know their own child in a different setting than you do.
  6. Expect to disagree once in a while and embrace the opportunity to see things from a new point of view.

Best Practice #3: Volunteering: Recruit and organize parent help and support.

  1. Arrange to use parent and community volunteers in your classroom. Recruit widely so that all families know their contributions are welcome. Provide training, and match time and talent with the work to be done
  2. Implement a system of class parents, telephone tree, e-mail list or other way to let volunteers know what's needed
  3. Plan lessons to include help from families at school or from home.
  4. Communicate with parents at the beginning of each year to identify talents, times and locations of volunteers.
  5. Recognize family members for the support they provide.

Best Practice #4: Learning at Home: Let families know the best ways to help students learn.

  1. Be sure each family has information about the essential learning standards for their child's grade level
  2. Be clear with parents about homework policies, and give them tips on how to monitor and discuss schoolwork at home
  3. Assign homework that requires students to discuss and interact with families about what they are learning in class
  4. If students have several teachers, coordinate homework assignments.
  5. Provide calendars with activities for parents and students at home.
  6. Send home summer learning packages.
  7. Ask families to participate in setting student goals each year, and help them look ahead to college or work.

Best Practice #5: Decision Making at School: Develop parent leaders and include them in school decisions

  1. Foster an active PTA or other parent group.
  2. Involve students too, when appropriate.
  3. Be sure school councils and other school governance committees include family representatives.
  4. Nominate family members from your school for regional and district councils and committees.
  5. Encourage parents from all segments of the school population to become leaders and to get leadership training.
  6. Help establish networks to link all families with parent representatives.

Best Practice #6: Collaborating with the Community: Seek out and use community resources that can strengthen school programs.

  1. Encourage your school to provide families with information on community activities that relate to learning skills, including summer programs, mentoring, tutoring and business partnerships.
  2. Make sure students and families have access to information about community health, cultural, recreational and social support services.
  3. Work with family representatives to find and apply for grants to further student learning.
  4. Help organize a career fair in which community members expose students to future job possibilities.
  5. Help match community contributions to school goals; align child and family services with learning standards.
  6. Thank local merchants and other business owners who support activities at school.
  7. As a class or school, have students, families and staff provide service to the community. Among the possibilities are recycling, art, music or drama performances for seniors.
  8. Bring alumni back to participate in school programs for students.

The following examples are tips are from the Harvard Family Research Project, October 2006:

A) Tips for Preparing Staff to Work Families

  1. Help those who work with families take different perspectives on situations by discussing hypothetical cases from different family members’ points of view.
  2. Ask staff to evaluate their own assumptions and beliefs about the families with whom they work.
  3. Develop staff communication skills.
  4. Aid staff in understanding research on families and the theoretical rationale for the program.
  5. Provide staff time to process with others difficult conversations or situations.

B) Tips for Recruitment and Retention

  1. Recruit families through face-to-face visits.
  2. Ask current and former program participants to help with recruitment.
  3. Hold meetings for parents during nontraditional hours, including weekends and evenings.
  4. Visit parents in community locations.
  5. Provide transportation, infant care, and meals at meetings.
  6. Ensure that staff are culturally sensitive.
  7. Understand the beliefs, values, and attitudes of the community.
  8. Help staff to think of recruitment and retention as a routine and ongoing process.