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Overview

The National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group is a leadership collaborative whose purpose is to inform the development and implementation of federal policy related to family, school, and community engagement in education. It is dedicated to mobilizing partnerships among families, schools, and communities to promote kindergarten readiness, improve schools, and increase student achievement.

Given the unique opportunity to transform education through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group serves to catalyze bold, innovative national policies and programs for effective family engagement and school-community partnerships that will ensure excellent educational opportunities from birth through young adulthood. It reaches out to partners to advance its policy vision, and forges alliances for sustaining meaningful change and building grassroots demand for quality early care and education programs and effective public schools.

The National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group premises its policy informing activities on decades of research that family and community engagement leads to increased student achievement, improved social skills and behavior, and increased likelihood for graduation. Its priorities for building a strong foundation for family, school, and community engagement include the following:

  • Providing a research-based definition and a coherent and comprehensive strategy for family, school, and community partnerships that will assure student academic and developmental success.
  • Proposing a three-tiered federal, state, and local infrastructure that will elevate family, school, and community engagement as a necessary reform strategy from cradle to career.
  • Promoting research, and especially evaluation, about innovative family engagement programs and practices that will improve student learning and developmental outcomes.
  • Improving data systems for family engagement that will enable timely reporting, relevant learning, and greater accountability.

The National Family, School, and Community Working Group’s activities and publications are available from the websites of its individual members.

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Policy recommendations:

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Working Group's accomplishments to inform policy include:

  • Commentary provided by the Working Group on the Race to the Top Program contributed to changes in the program's final guidelines. Read more >

  • In addition to informing federal policy, Working Group members actively assist states with their family engagement policies. For example, Connecticut used the Working Group's position paper, "Recommendations for Federal Policy," to craft a new definition of family engagement and to buttress its larger policy statement. This statement will guide local boards of education, district and school administrators, as well as the Connecticut Department of Education in implementing family, school, and community engagement policies.
    Read the Recommendations for Federal Policy document  >

  • Read more about the Working Group’s involvement with family engagement policy on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, Ed.gov.

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Members of The National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group:

Vito Borello
President
Every Person Influences Children (EPIC)
New York Parental Information and Resource Center

Anne W. Foster
National Executive Director
Parents for Public Schools

Erin Hart
Director of Strategic Alliances, Partnerships and Programs
National PTA

Anne T. Henderson
Senior Consultant, Community Organizing and Engagement
Annenberg Institute for School Reform

Catherine Jordan
SEDL Program Manager
National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools

M. Elena Lopez
Senior Consultant
Harvard Family Research Project
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Karen L. Mapp, Ed.D.
Lecturer on Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Heidi Rosenberg
Senior Research Analyst
Harvard Family Research Project
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Susan Shaffer
Vice President
Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium
Director
Maryland State Parental Information and Resource Center (MD PIRC)

Steven B. Sheldon, Ph.D.
Director of Research
National Network of Partnership Schools

Deborah R. Stark
Commissioner
First 5 Alameda County, CA

Lindsay Torrico
Manager, Public Policy
United Way Worldwide

Heather B. Weiss, Ed.D.
Founder and Director
Harvard Family Research Project
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Lacy Wood
Project Manager
Afterschool, Family, and Community Program
SEDL

Nancy E. Hill, PhD
Professor of Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Jacque Minow
Senior Education Policy Analyst
National PTA

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© 2014 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project