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Why be involved Power of parental involvement Barriers to participation What engagement looks like Building capacity Liz Roper, Project Director. FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. Why Family And Community Engagement?.

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Family and community engagement l.jpg

Why be involved

Power of parental involvement

Barriers to participation

What engagement looks like

Building capacity

Liz Roper, Project Director


Why family and community engagement l.jpg

Why Family And Community Engagement?

When schools and families work together in a collaborative partnership, students receive the message that school is important.

Factors To Be Aware Of:

  • Many low income families experience social stress hindering psychological and social development that children need in order to function successfully in school

  • Country becoming culturally diverse

  • Global workforce competition

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  • Population increase

    2007 74 million children under age 18

    2020 80 million children under age 18 expected

  • Under age 18 living with two married parents

    1980 77%

    2007 68%

  • Ethnic population

    2007 Asian 4%, Black 15%, White 57%, Hispanic 21%

    2020 1:4 in US Hispanic

  • US Children of immigrant families

    1995 15% live in families where 1 parent is foreign born

    2007 22% live in families where 1 parent is foreign born

  • Language at home

    1979 8.5% children age 5-17 speak language other than English

    2006 20.3% children age 5-17 speak language other than English

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  • Births to unwed mothers

    1960 5% of all births

    2005 37% of all births: Blacks 70%, Hispanics, 48%, Whites 25%

  • 2006 17% children in poverty

  • By ethnicity- Black 33%, Hispanic 27%, White 10%

  • By family structure- female headed home 42%, married couple 8%

  • 2006 parents’ self reporting indicate that

    5% ages 4-17 suffer from emotional/behavioral difficulties

    84% of these parents have sought professional help

  • Autism

    1970 1 in 2,500

    2007 1 in 150 for US children age 8

  • ADHD

    1997-2003 6% diagnosed &1:10 were males age 3-17

    2004 males were more than 2 times as likely than females to be diagnosed

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  • Number of children receiving special education services

    1977 3.7 million

    2007 6.7 million

  • Children watching TV one hour or less per day

    8th graders 12th graders

    1991 20% 1991 38%

    2006 29% 2006 45%

  • Children watching TV 4 or more hours per day by ethnic group

    8th graders 12th graders

    57% Blacks 37% Blacks

    20% Whites 13% Whites

  • Internet use by ages 12-17

    2000 73%

    2007 93%

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Workforce Readiness

Conservative figures, roughly 30% of US students are not graduating from high school

  • Tennessee ranks #36 nationally.

  • The USA is no longer only competing within our own states.

  • Many Americans are not aware of global competition.

  • China, India, Ghana, & Mexico’s educational levels are rising.

  • In mathematics the USA fell from 15 to 25th place globally.

  • Currently 2/3 of all American jobs require at least 1 college degree.

  • Diploma to Nowhere: Report from Strong American Schools 2008 examines the psychological student impact and high cost to taxpayers ($2.5 billion annually) for 1/3 of college students to be in remedial courses

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Why Family Engagement?

Students achieve more when families are engaged and

have high expectations for their children.

Studies Show:

  • Improvement of student attitudes and behaviors

  • Increased student attendance

  • Higher homework completion

  • Higher grades and test scores

  • Fewer placement in special education

  • Decreased drop-out rate

  • Higher graduation rate

  • Greater enrollment in post secondary education

  • Positive parent child communication

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Importance of Family-School Relationship

National PTA standards for parent and family involvement emphasizes:

  • Regular, two way, and meaningful communication between home and school

  • Promoting and supporting parenting skills

  • Parents playing integral role in assisting student learning

    Genuine partnership between school and home is possible only when both partners have rich and frequent communication and when all parties are committed to forming lasting and effective partnerships including students.

    So why don’t all parents participate?

  • Time, cultural difference, socioeconomic status, and changing family structures

  • Families can’t be involved if teachers and leadership don’t see family involvement as their responsibility. Educator training needs

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Barriers Specific To High School Students

National study shows 50% drop off in family involvement in high school compared to elementary school


  • Rigor and level of academic work changes parents’ beliefs to their ability to help their children

  • Emergence of adolescence suppresses overt parental involvement

  • Schools more compartmentalized and harder to communicate to many teachers versus one primary teacher

  • Larger attendance areas create transportation and proximity challenges that discourage family involvement, less intimacy

  • Secondary parents shift responsibility of child’s education to the schools

  • Schools vary in the quantity and quality of family involvement

  • Some schools set narrow parameters for controlled family participation

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Family Partnership Programs

Address parental needs

  • Identify and address the unique needs of families: working parents- times/ways available, English language Learners-translators & translated materials, parents of special needs children, homeless

  • Proximity to school- transportation issues

  • Times available for involvement

    How do parents want to be involved?

  • Volunteer / at home

  • Leadership capacity

  • Community business resource

    What kinds of knowledge do parents want?

  • Developmental stages of children

  • Curriculum standards / assessments / homework resources

  • Post secondary – completing financial aid packets

  • Orientation training- procedures/ expectations for schools new to parents

  • Parent training - computer / English classes / GED /

  • How to work with their children at home / goal setting

  • Parenting skills / behavior management / how to advocate for their children

  • How do parents prefer to give and receive this knowledge?

  • Do variety methods-Surveys, electronically, etc,

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Meaningful Parent Involvement For Home

In a positive home learning environment, the parent:

  • Is aware of what the child is studying in school

  • Reinforces homework

  • Regularly communicates with teachers

  • Advocates for child

  • Reads together with child, models reading, encourages reading

  • Focus on long-range goals

  • Informed parent-child conversations- situations, activities, programs

    How To Accomplish This?

  • Provide training and 2 way communication at schools and family resource centers

  • Provide handouts, website, newsletter to parents, etc. to create a home learning environment

  • Design homework to promote collaboration between student and parent

  • Provide weekly assignment sheets for space for parent feedback

  • Share information about school events and school policies

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Meaningful Parent and Community Involvement For Educators

Professional development topics:

  • Creating welcoming schools

  • Building relationships

  • Help schools understand children and families

  • Tips on two way communication

  • How to work with parents –classroom, advisory & SIP committees

  • Getting parents input

  • Resources for families – housing, health, transportation, food

  • Creating community and business partnerships

  • Marketing the school

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Family Partnership Programs

Primary goal is centered on students to increase motivation, achievement, and success.

  • Topics that parents and students identify should drive family partnerships in all schools.

  • Partnerships built around and for students may fail if they aren’t included in the process

    How To Accomplish This?

  • Gather family and studentinput- needs, desires, attitudes, opinions through surveys and meetings

  • Provide the results, training, and training resources

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Community Partnerships

Initiate business and community partnerships:

  • Promote student achievement and success, and underlying needs through services and donated supplies

  • Continue community support and information regularly

  • Map community assets – “Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets” by Kretzman and McKnight

    1st identify community’s needs, deficiencies, problems

    2nd inventory community’s capacities and assets- individuals, associations, organizations that provide services to community to assist schools

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Community School

Community schools go further to meet student needs and build social capital, increase opportunities and interactions within the community to support student learning

Attributes of community schools:

  • School is open to everyone- students, families, community before, during, and after the school day

  • School is oriented toward the community and uses the community as a resource-students engage in academics and community problem solving and community service. Before and after school learning allows students to build on class experiences. Entire community supports the mission of the school- to educate all students.

  • Schools turn to families, community partnerships to garner assets including health services

  • Demands are lessened on school teachers as off campus programs strengthen high standards

  • Schools promote decision making among staff, students, families, community

  • Events are held that involve families and community members

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Evaluating Your Programs

Five step process:

  • Awareness

  • Self-Assessment

  • Program Conceptualization and Development

  • Program Implementation

  • Evaluation and Sustaining

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Assist families with parenting and child rearing skills, understanding child and adolescent development, and setting home conditions that support children as students at each age and grade level.  Assist schools in understanding families.


Parent education and training (GED, college credit, family literacy, computer workshops, child development, language classes, cultural diversity

Family support programs to assist families with health, nutrition, housing, safety

Home conditions to support learning

Parenting skills for all ages

Information/activities to help schools understand children/families

Home visits

Workshops, websites

Family Resource Centers

Annual surveys for families to share information and concerns about children’s goals, strengths, talents

Dr. Joyce Epstein’sSix Types Of Parent Involvement

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Communicate with families about school programs and student progress through effective school to home and home to school communications.


Ongoing communication resources -email, website, telecommunications system, electronic language translation, student management software, brochures, newsletters

Information on learning standards, tests, child progress reports, school performance, school programs, reading/math tips, homework tips, school open house , choose/change schools and activities

Two way communication

Folders of students works sent home weekly for parent review

Annual surveys of families’ reactions to school programs and students’ needs

Dr. Joyce Epstein’sSix Types Of Parent Involvement

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Improve recruitment, training, and schedules to involve families as volunteers and audiences in other locations to support students and school programs.


Include parent and community volunteers in the classroom, as reading and math mentors, coaches, monitors, lecturers, chaperones, in sports events, as language translators, and for fundraisers

Enlist parents and community to mentor English Language Learners, special needs, new families

Attend assemblies, performances, recognition/award ceremonies, celebrations

Annual survey to identify interests, talents and availability of volunteers

Class parents, telephone tree to provide families with information

Parent /grandparents patrols to increase school safety

Dr. Joyce Epstein’sSix Types Of Parent Involvement

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 Involve families with their children in learning activities at home, including homework and other curriculum-related activities and decisions.


Read to your child every day and your child takes turns reading to you. Ask your child questions about the story and characters, predict the outcome.

Homework hotline, place on homework sheet for parent comments

Discussions about and monitoring homework

Curriculum related decisions

Required skills to pass each subject

Interactive homework that requires students to demonstrate /discuss what they are learning

Summer learning packets

Setting academic goals /plan for college/work

Dr. Joyce Epstein’sSix Types Of Parent Involvement

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Include families as participants in school decisions and advocacy through, school councils, committees, action teams, and other parent organizations.


Parents participating on the School Improvement Committee, SIP goals, Parent Advisory, and Leadership Team, School Council, Action Team for Parnerships, PTO/PTA

Design school strategies with parents for academic, attendance, and behaviors

Use surveys to identify needs

Parent training to become advocates

Networks to link families with parent representatives

Dr. Joyce Epstein’sSix Types Of Parent Involvement

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Coordinate resources and services for students, families, and the school with businesses, agencies, cultural and recreational groups, health services, faith based organizations, government and military agencies, and provide services to the community.


Provide information on community resources to help the child or family with academics, health, housing, food, clothing, employment, and counseling

School business partnerships to attain school improvement goals

Alumni participation for school programs

One stop shopping for family services through partnerships of school, counseling, health, job training, recreation

Community services-recycling projects, tutoring, music, etc.

Dr. Joyce Epstein’sSix Types Of Parent Involvement

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  • “Engaging All Families” by Steven M. Constantino

  • “Working With Parents- Building Relationships for Student Success” by Ruby K. Payne

  • “School, Family, and Community Partnerships-Your Handbook for Action” by Joyce Epstein, Mavis Sanders, Beth Simon, Karen Salinas, Natalie Jansorn, & Frances Van Voorhis

  • Tennessee Department of Education-Family and Community Engagement

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Liz Roper,

Family & Community Engagement Project Director

Office of Federal Programs

Tennessee Department of Education


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