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Guest commentator Elise Trumbull, EdD, an Independent Educational Consultant and co-creator of the Bridging Cultures Project, discusses the challenges of communicating with families from different cultural backgrounds. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over one-third of students in Pre-K through grade 12 classrooms are from minority groups, and the families of an increasing number of students are immigrants, many with native languages other than English. However, many new teachers are unprepared to deal with the challenges of this diversity in their classrooms. Dr. Trumbull addresses these concerns and presents a framework to help teachers understand cultural patterns, as well as guidelines for cross-cultural parent–teacher conferences.
In this FINE Newsletter Voices from the Field article, Carol St. George, EdD, a visiting assistant professor at the University of Rochester and Title I Family Involvement Coordinator for the Greece Central School District in New York, discusses her use of the Collegial Circle, a professional development activity that engages teachers with parents.
Beth Schueler reviews the new book, The Power of Family–School Partnering: A Practical Guide for School Mental Health Professionals and Educators (FSP), a user-friendly handbook for developing and implementing a sustainable and effective Family–School Partnering strategy.
HFRP invited the Flamboyan Foundation—a private foundation focused on improving educational outcomes for children in Washington, DC and Puerto Rico—to share its classroom family engagement rubric with FINE. This rubric, and accompanying article, provides districts, school leaders, and teachers with a clear picture of what effective family engagement looks like in the classroom through concrete descriptions of how teachers demonstrate strong family engagement through their conversations and daily practice.
We at Harvard Family Research Project are committed to keeping you up to date on what's new in family involvement. This list of links to current reports, articles, events, and opportunities will help you stay on top of research and resources from HFRP and other field leaders.
Maria C. Paredes is the Director of Community Education at Creighton School District in Arizona. Our October 2010 FINE Newsletter: Using Student Data to Engage Families, profiled Creighton District’s work with Academic Parent–Teacher teams. In this follow-up to the October article, Paredes describes how Creighton prepares teachers and parent liaisons to share student data with families through Academic Parent–Teacher Teams.
Since the 1997 publication of New Skills for New Schools by HFRP, the education reform landscape has changed, making it necessary to align teacher preparation and professional learning for family engagement with the goals of a twenty-first century education. Harvard Family Research Project is working to gather information about promising teacher education practices to prepare teachers to partner with families for student success. A preview of these practices—to be published in our forthcoming policy brief—is summarized in this update.
Free. Available online only.
This paper by the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement, a new center formed by HFRP and Brazelton Center at Children's Hospital Boston and other partners for the Office of Head Start, focuses on child assessment data as a tool for parent and family engagement in the early childhood arena. It is the first in a series that will help early childhood care and education programs identify ways that they can share information in order to strengthen partnerships and work toward common goals.
The National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group, a collaborative of leaders in the family engagement field including Harvard Family Research Project’s Heather Weiss, submitted recommendations for the U.S. Department of Education's proposal to extend the grant period for the National Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRC) program. This extension period would allow the centers to operate through fiscal year 2012. The Working Group recommended that the extension place an emphasis on data collection, research, best practices, and program outcomes that will assist in the development of a strengthened PIRC program.
Free. Available online only.
Recognizing the need for a comprehensive approach to keeping teens in school and successfully completing high school, AT&T Foundation and United Way Worldwide (UWW) started a new initiative—Family Engagement for High School Success. The goal of this grant was to identify promising family engagement strategies with a strong likelihood of raising high school graduation rates, and to share that information with communities around the country. Together with HFRP, UWW worked with communities to develop plans for high school success. This report highlights the innovative approaches developed and the early outcomes at eight of the UWW grantee sites
Out-of-school time (OST) programs that focus on girls’ involvement in STEM can play an essential role in improving female representation in these traditionally male-dominated fields. OST programs offer girls a non-threatening and non-academic environment for hands-on learning that is collaborative, informal, and personal. However, barriers to quality implementation and outcome-based evaluation present challenges for STEM programs serving girls. This Research Update highlights findings from the evaluations and research studies in the OST Database that focus on STEM programs for girls.
Free. Available online only.
HFRP and the National PTA® have teamed up for the second issue in our series of ground-breaking policy briefs. Breaking New Ground cites six case studies from across the country that reveal innovative efforts by early childhood programs and school districts to use student data systems to improve family engagement. Each profile illustrates a segment of a data pathway beginning in early childhood and continuing through students' academic careers. The brief also includes a set of policy recommendations to help support the current trends in education that focus on twenty-first century learning and the vital role of technology.
This article in Afterschool Matters discusses strategies used by OST programs with high rates of participation.
In this issue’s commentary, Heather Weiss, M. Elena Lopez, and Heidi Rosenberg honor FINE's 10th anniversary by looking at the growth and learning in the family engagement field over the last decade. Family engagement is shifting from a “random acts” approach—numerous social, fundraising and educational activities that lack broad and deep connections to school improvement goals—to a more systemic, integrated, and sustainable framework of true family engagement. This commentary discusses what that means for HFRP and FINE in 2011 and beyond.
This paper, authored by Harvard Family Research Project, served as the foundation for panelists’ discussions at the National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement. Beyond Random Acts provides a research-based framing of family engagement; examines the policy levers that can drive change in promoting systemic family, school, and community engagement; and focuses on data systems as a powerful tool to engage families for twenty-first century student learning. Because education reform will succeed only when all students are prepared for the demands of the twenty-first century, the paper also examines the role of families in transforming low-performing schools.
Free. Available online only.
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative provides funds for afterschool programs across the country and is the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programming. This issue in our Research Update: Highlights from the OST Database series, discusses the features and benefits of afterschool programs funded by the 21st CCLC initiative.
Free. Available online only.
Teaching cases are a valuable tool in preparing teachers and school administrators to engage effectively with families. This handout provides a detailed list of HFRP's teaching cases in family involvement, sorted by topic, gender, and age-group, as well as ethnicity, of the students discussed.
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 children's work as a unique type of student data to track development and share children's progress with parents.
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 available in Spanish, this tool is a powerful resource for families and educators alike.
Maria C. Paredes, Director of Community Education at Creighton School District in Arizona, discusses one of the district’s family engagement strategies that was 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.
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.
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.
Based on research of promising practices in school districts and communities, Harvard Family Research Project 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.
Harvard Family Research Project’s Teaching Cases are designed to support 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.