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Dear FINE Members,

A new wave of family engagement strategies is emerging in tandem with education reform. Making student data a centerpiece of family engagement is one such strategy, and one that is both supported by research and promoted by policy. Schools and families are beginning to use student data as a point of communication in support of children’s learning, thus making family engagement a shared responsibility that is integrated into instructional practice. This engagement can begin with data use in preschool and continue through high school, with student data opening multiple possibilities for family engagement in the home, school, and community. In this issue of the FINE Newsletter, we focus on examples of districts and schools that have begun using data to engage families for student success in bold and powerful ways.

In this issue’s commentary, Heather Weiss and M. Elena Lopez from Harvard Family Research Project and Deborah Stark, Commissioner of First 5, Alameda County, revisit the new definition of family engagement as applied to student data use.  They discuss how data can effectively engage everyone around student learning and performance.

In order to help readers understand how different programs and districts across the developmental spectrum are engaging families through the use of student data, in this issue we present five Voices from the Field. Shael Polakow-Suransky from the New York City Department of Education shares lessons learned from the use of ARIS Parent Link, the parent portal of NYC’s online student data system. Amy Horenbeck from Tools of the Mind discusses a different approach to early childhood education, and using young children's work as a unique type of student data to track development and share children's progress with parents. Maria C. Paredes from Creighton School District in Arizona discusses one of the district’s family engagement strategies that involves bringing teams of parents together to understand data. Linda Foote from Poway Unified School District in California describes how her district supports elementary school students in using data to create their learning goals and involves parents in setting families’ goals to support children’s learning. Finally, D’Lisa Crain of the Nevada PIRC describes Nevada’s efforts to make high school student data understood by immigrant families.

In addition, we provide a briefing on the recent Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement webinar installment, Data Driven: Making Student Data Accessible and Meaningful to Families. This issue of the FINE Newsletter also includes a compilation of resources from HFRP and other websites about families’ use of data to support, guide, and advocate for student achievement and schoolwide improvement. This month’s featured teaching case highlights one elementary school’s struggles to use and understand data about student progress toward state standards and to communicate the meaning of these data clearly to parents. And, as always, we provide a listing of new family involvement articles, news, and resources.

We invite your feedback on the topics we explore in this FINE Newsletter, and encourage you to pass on this issue to interested friends and colleagues. We've made it even easier to share FINE content with your social networks: Find the "share" button on the left of every page and send interesting articles via email or through other platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.


Harvard Family Research Project Commentary

Breaking New Ground: Data Systems Transform Family Engagement in Education

Heather Weiss
In this issue’s commentary, Heather Weiss and M. Elena Lopez from Harvard Family Research Project and Deborah Stark, Commissioner of First 5, Alameda County, revisit the new definition of family engagement—as a shared responsibility, across multiple settings, from early childhood through high school—as applied to student data use. They discuss how data can effectively bring families, teachers, and administrators to the table and engage everyone around student learning and performance.


Voices From the Field

In order to help readers understand how different programs and districts across the developmental spectrum are engaging families through the use of student data, in this issue we feature five Voices from the Field from around the country in districts both big and small, high-performing and struggling to turn around.

ARIS Parent Link: Five Lessons in Linking Families to Student Data Systems

Shael Polakow-Suransky
Shael Polakow-Suransky, Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education's Division of Performance & Accountability, shares lessons learned from the use of ARIS Parent Link, the parent portal of the online student data system of NYC.

Making Data Come Alive for Families through Young Children’s Play

Young girl reading at the Tools of the Mind program.
Amy Horenbeck, Training Director from the Tools of the Mind program based at the Center for Improving Early Learning at the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Colorado, discusses a different approach to early childhood education, and using young children's work as a unique type of student data to track development and share children's progress with parents.

Academic Parent–Teacher Teams: Reorganizing Parent–Teacher Conferences around Data

Maria Paredes
Maria C. Paredes is the Director of Community Education at Creighton School District in Arizona. In this article, Paredes discusses one of the district’s family engagement strategies, developed—in part—from data she collected demonstrating that parents were more interested in attending academically-oriented activities than other types of events such as potlucks or family-fun nights. 

Data for Measuring Growth: Poway Unified School District

Boy reviews his academic goals. As told to the FINE Team by Linda Foote, Technology Integration Specialist for Poway Unified School District, this article discusses how data helps students create their learning goals and helps parents create family goals to support their children’s learning. The article also shares ideas for how to build community around data. 

“For the first time I understand what it takes for my own child to graduate”: Engaging Immigrant Families Around Data

D'lisa Crain
D’Lisa Crain, Grant Administrator for the Nevada State Parent Information & Resource Center (PIRC) and Parent Involvement Coordinator for the Washoe County School District, talks about using case studies to help immigrant families better understand data as well as training parents to use an online data tool to track student progress toward high school graduation.


Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

Logged In: Using Technology to Engage Families in Children’s Education

Logged In Cover
The prevalence of technology in education is one of the key reasons schools are now able to make student data so accessible—and actionable—to families. Through email, the internet, and even text messaging, schools are reaching out to and engaging with students and parents though a variety of media. Based on research of promising practices in school districts and communities, HFRP has identified a range of technological innovations that have the potential to boost key dimensions of family engagement: positive parent–child interactions, home–school communication, and parent responsibility for a child’s learning.


Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

UPDATED Parent–Teacher Conference Tip Sheets—Now en Español!

Parent-Teacher Conference Tip Sheets - Spanish Cover
Even with technological advances that allow parents to track their child’s academic progress remotely, and more transparency in student data (such as test scores and attendance rates), face-to-face interaction between parents and teachers is still the cornerstone of school family engagement efforts. These newly revised tip sheets provide key strategies for both parents and teachers to walk into conferences informed and prepared, in order to ensure the most successful outcomes. A tip sheet aimed at school principals also outlines how school administrators can support parents and teachers to that end. Now also available in Spanish, these tip sheets are a powerful resource for families and educators alike.


Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

Webinar Brief: Data Driven—Making Student and School Data Accessible and Meaningful To Families

Webinar 3 Brief Cover
This is a briefing on the third webinar in the series Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement brought to you by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with United Way Worldwide, National PTA, SEDL, and HFRP. The webinar, which took place on August 10, 2010, featured Kevin Jennings from the U.S. Department of Education and a number of speakers from across the country discussing examples of how data can be used to engage families in programs, schools, and school districts. This 3-page brief summarizes the webinar presentation. Other resources, including the archived presentation and a full transcript, are also available.


Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

Data on Data: A Resource Guide to Engaging Families with Student Data

Data on Data Cover This resource from HFRP offers a compilation of articles on families’ use of data to support, guide, and advocate for student achievement and schoolwide improvement. Resources are grouped into three categories: Perspectives that offer lessons learned from family and community use of data, program examples that illustrate what it takes to make data actionable for families, and tools that help everyone understand how data can be analyzed.


Tips & Tools From Harvard Family Research Project

Featured Teaching Case: Defining “Fine”: Communicating Academic Progress to Parents

Making a Decision About College Teaching Case screen-grab Harvard Family Research Project’s Teaching Cases are designed to help teacher training and professional development by highlighting challenges that schools, families, and communities may encounter in supporting children’s learning. In this month’s newsletter, we feature Defining “Fine”: Communicating Academic Progress to Parents, a case that highlights one elementary school’s efforts to use and understand data about student progress toward state standards and to communicate the meaning of these data clearly to parents. 


Family Involvement News

October 2010 News

Father and daughter reading together We at Harvard Family Research Project are committed to keeping you up to date on what's new in family involvement.  View our list of links to current reports, articles, resources, and events in the family involvement field. 


Contact Us

If you experience a problem reading this newsletter or have questions and comments concerning our work, we would love to hear from you. Please send an email to fine@gse.harvard.edu.

Enjoy!

The FINE Team at Harvard Family Research Project

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