Family Engagement in School: A District Perspective
by Arnold F. Fege, President Public Advocacy for Kids
and Terry Pickeral, President, Cascade Educational Consultants
Recently, we shared blogs on how to effectively engage parents in high performing schools.
We offered (1) eight strategies focusing on parent engagement at the school level; (2) four ways education leaders and policy makers can engage them, as critical stakeholders, in school change; and (3) national organizations positioned to support high-quality parent engagement.
In this blog we expand parent engagement to family engagement recognizing that much like the diversity of parent experiences there are multiple dynamics within families and our goal is to encourage each family member to be engaged in education effectiveness and corresponding change for student success in school and in life.
We believe that school-based and change-based family engagement strategies should be informed by and supported by district policies and assessments, thus ensuring a direct line from state accountability, district support and school integration. We acknowledge that high-quality family engagement assists schools to meet their mission and goals and have positive impacts on each students’ academic, social, civic and career development.
The district-level family engagement strategies borrow from the NCLB Title 1 District Family Policy Development and Assessment developed by this blog’s co-author Arnie Fege, Public Advocacy for Kids, for the Public Education Network. We offer the policy component and the corresponding assessment for multiple education stakeholders to inform and influence district level policies.
We encourage family engagement advocates, school personnel and school leaders to consider this set of policy options and effective ways of measuring and improving school practices as they assist in the development/enhancement of district policies in support of family engagement.
We further believe that high-quality family engagement assists schools to meet their mission and goals and have positive impacts on each students’ academic, social, civic and career development.
The most effective way of using this policy and assessment framework is to collaboratively:
- Compare existing district family engagement policies with the policy components in the framework above to determine if there are missing elements that will more fully support family engagement in schools.
- Upon comparison of existing family engagement policies work with district and schools to determine the current assessment of the policies’ impacts on schools and students and determine strategies to continue to progress along the rubric.
- Use the policy components to encourage the district to prioritize policies they can develop and adopt.
- Use the rubric as a component of the district and school’s accountability system so that family engagement becomes a normal part of the district and school’s report card.
We believe family engagement is a critical, and often missing, part of school and student progress and success. Earlier we focused on parent engagement and in this blog expand the concept to a focus on family engagement making the case for the importance of supportive policies at the district level. We offer a framework of district policy components and corresponding assessments (a rubric) to monitor and improve school integration and sustainability of high-quality family engagement. And we offer four ways of effectively using the policy and assessment framework to advance family engagement policy and practices.
We encourage your consideration of the rationale, framework and strategies in ensuring schools effectively engage families as part of their common strategies to support each students’ full academic, social, civic and career development.