Strong family-school partnerships encourage and boost student achievement in many ways. As research shows, when parents are involved in their children's education, their children do better in school regardless of their own education level, ethnicity or zip code.
Making family engagement a priority on campus also benefits school improvement. Linked to student learning, it is a powerful strategy for achieving whole-school goals.
It is an effective way, for instance, to get students reading at grade level, closing achievement gaps, and motivating students for long-term educational success.
At home, parents can start to reinforce this strategy. Keeping children focused on school readiness, learning and homework is an important part of the home-school partnership. And, talking about the school day as well as higher education shows how much your family values education.
At school, teachers and administrators can begin to extend their family engagement efforts by involving families in two-way, meaningful communication about student learning on a regular basis.
Giving parents good information about how they can support their child at home and how well their child is doing in school is critical. How grade level and school expectations affect their child's progress is also vital to support academic growth and development.
What is Family Engagement in Schools?
"… communicating and doing things with your student, your student's teacher, or your student's school to support your student's learning and success. Parents, family members, and other caregivers can be involved in a student's education in many ways."
Source: Family Engagement Framework: A Tool for California School Districts, California Department of Education (Sacramento, 2011), p. 24.
These are all good as first steps in building effective home-school partnerships for student success.
Creating a culture of authentic family engagement in schools, however, involves even more ways of connecting families and schools.
It takes an investment of time, effort and commitment by all stakeholders in the school community to share ideas, set goals, initiate activities and monitor efforts to improve student outcomes and achievement.
With a shared vision and plan for student success, the results can pay dividends so that every child has the opportunity to achieve their potential from pre-school to high school and beyond.
PTA NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR FAMILY-SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS
Connecting families and schools is the core purpose and value of PTA. That's why PTA has worked closely, for many years, with prominent education leaders and practitioners in the field of family engagement to develop the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships.
As research-based strategies, the Standards provide a blueprint for what effective family-school partnerships look like. And, they focus on what important stakeholders – parents, students, teachers, administrators and community partners – can do together to support student achievement in their school community:
Standard 1 – Welcoming All Families Into the School Community
Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.
Standard 2 – Communicating Effectively
Families and school staff engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.
Standard 3 – Supporting Student Success
Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students' learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.
Standard 4 – Speaking Up for Every Child
Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.
Standard 5 – Sharing Power
Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.
Standard 6 – Collaborating with Community
Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.
By identifying key aspects of authentic family engagement practices, the six Standards provide basic, building blocks for stronger family-school partnerships to support student success today for tomorrow's world.
Learn more: www.pta.org
FAMILY-SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS – MAKE IT HAPPEN
To get started in developing family-school partnerships in schools, PTA designed a how to guide, called the PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships Assessment Guide. It offers a framework for how families, schools and communities collaborate to support student success.
As a turnkey resource, it shows organizers how to put in place and direct effective family-school initiatives and authentic family engagement in schools with:
- Explanations for each Standard and its importance
- Specific goals for each Standard
- Action steps for school communities
- Indicators for measuring progress
To support school districts and parents in developing family engagement goals and activities as part of their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), California State PTA together with National PTA released an updated version of the PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships Assessment Guide.
PTA recommends that every school district's LCAP seek to address each Standard outlined in the Assessment Guide.
Use the indicators for the Standards to start a conversation among parents and educators about how best to build stronger family-school partnerships.
The indicators can also help you measure progress based on the priorities and needs of your community.
Anyone with a stake in improving schools and student achievement can use this tool – PTA leaders, parents, students, teachers, school administrators, school board members, community organizations, and more.
To get started, create an action team focused on promoting family engagement. Include parents, students, teachers, school staff, administrators and community leaders to ensure that the voices of all of key stakeholders are heard in your school community.