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What Can We Do?

Mother picking child up from school busTo get your team started, a two step process is outlined:

  1. Assessing needs
  2. Planning for action

There are a wealth of resources available that can be modified based on your district's and/or community's unique attributes. The outcomes of a comprehensive needs assessment will guide both meaningful action planning as well as elements to target for evaluation and continuous improvement.

When assessing family engagement at your school and planning for action, consider the following questions:

  • As a shared responsibility, do you include the perspective of all stakeholders, families and school when assessing the current level of family engagement?
  • As a school system, what do you believe to be the biggest barrier to family engagement?
  • Have you collected feedback from families regarding what they feel to be the greatest barrier?
  • What is your school's definition of family involvement?
  • What does staff regularly do to build a welcoming climate?
  • How does your school find a balance between an open-door policy and maintaining security?
  • How does your school help parents understand school information?
  • How do parent involvement efforts address the lifestyles of families of the students?
  • How does your school develop a family and community involvement plan?

A. Starting Points/Critical Components:

  • District alignment
  • Needs assessment
  • Creating a climate and culture that welcomes all families
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Community collaboration
District Alignment

Starting Points/Critical Components
Leadership is key—there must be LEA support and prioritization of parent and community engagement in the form of strategic planning, goal alignment, dedicated positions and professional development opportunities.

The first step to developing high-quality parent involvement initiatives is for the school to undergo a careful review of the practices, processes and systems within a school that support family and community involvement. Schools must determine the effectiveness of current practices and revise existing plans based on the outcomes of the review. The completion of a self-assessment assists school leadership in determining needs, examining their nature and causes and setting priorities for future action. The outcomes consequently guide the development of meaningful school, family and community involvement plans and suggest benchmarks for evaluation. Parent and community engagement should be clearly identified as part of the vision, mission and goals.

Actions for LEA Capacity

  • The inclusion of family engagement into the process of school reform is a tiered approach that entails multiple strategies that address school buy-in, family input and support available.
  • Is family engagement made a priority in district and school goals, policies and procedures?
  • Are family engagement policies, procedures and goals easily understood and communicated to families?
  • Are there dedicated positions at the district and school staff level that focus on the integration of family engagement into school practice, including the facilitation of professional development?


Needs Assessment

Starting Points/Critical Components
Where are you now, where can you go and what comes next? Family engagement is an integral support of student achievement, yet is not adequately incorporated into school practice. Consider the barriers your school has encountered with family involvement.

Actions for LEA Capacity

Data sources to consider:

  • Family-friendly walk-through assessment
  • Family and school staff surveys or focus groups
  • Family demographics, including socioeconomics, education level and single parent households
  • Parent attendance at school events, including conferences
  • Opportunities available to link families to student learning


Creating Climate & Culture

Starting Points/Critical Components
If families do not feel welcomed, respected and valued by a school, any effort to facilitate their participation will fall short. It is the school’s responsibility to establish itself as an integral piece of the community that meets families’ needs by connecting them with relevant information and services.

Actions for LEA Capacity

  • Is there an established definition for family engagement that is communicated to all staff members and sets the expectation for interaction with families?
  • How frequently do teachers communicate with families?
  • What is the nature of the contact? Negative, positive, one-way, two-way?
  • Is there a resource center on the school campus or in the community (supported by the school) specifically designed to meet family needs?
  • Does the school partner with local businesses, agencies and faith-based agencies that also serve the same families?
  • Does the school have established opportunities for families to be involved in their child’s education, including volunteering and planning/decision-making committees?
  • Are there professional development opportunities that focus discussions and content on family engagement?
Professional Development

Starting Points/Critical Components
Training is needed for family and school personnel. To begin, assess parents’ and school personnel informational needs and provide training based upon those needs. To establish buy-in, school staff must be provided with opportunities to expand on their skills and abilities to partner with families. Staff meetings, discussions and workshops dedicated to family engagement. Home visits and staff orientation to the community.

Actions for LEA Capacity

The LEA has a professional development plan which includes job-embedded professional development that specifically addresses and targets instructional needs.

Use various data sources to identify information and learning needs for staff and families. Provide training for school staff on vital elements of effective family involvement which may include:

  • Family, community and school partnership development
  • Creation of an inviting school climate that demonstrates cultural awareness. Provide training that empowers parents/caregivers to advocate for and ensure the success of their children. The training may include:
    - Local board and school policies
    - Services provided through student assistance teams
    - Pathways to promotion, graduation and grades
    - Pathways that lead to discipline and suspension issues
    - Create a video library for virtual training and information sharing
    - Provide training to families, community members and staff in such a way that it establishes a common set of knowledge, standards and expectations


B. Strategic/Action Planning:

This section links to a variety of familiar planning tools including:

  • Strategic/action planning tools
  • Logic models
  • Project timeline tool
  • Asset mapping
  • Data mapping
  • Focus groups
  • SWOT analysis
  • Force field analysis

Click the folder below for more resources.


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