Beyond Back to School Night: Transformative Family Engagement

August 12th, 2014 | by SRC

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation recently released a public opinion poll of 1,000 families from across the United States and found that “96 percent of parents believe they play a role in ensuring their child has a quality education;” yet we know that many families may not feel empowered to be active partners in their child’s education.  These figures demonstrate that while families know they are a crucial part of their child’s educational growth, some families might be unsure of their role in their child’s school.

In the aftermath of NCLB and other school reform initiatives, family engagement is largely missing from the conversation. Despite progress in teaching and learning, family engagement efforts often maintain a “traditional” format of open-houses and one-on-one parent-teacher conferences. This can create a disconnect for families from their child’s education and learning goals, creating a divide that school transparency was supposed to eliminate.  

Recently, the White House held The Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement to address this issue.  The Symposium convened leaders in the field to discuss how family engagement can be redefined as a component of school reform.  Carla Thompson, vice president of program strategies at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, said that to have “a real chance for education reform, everyone should understand they have a role in it.”  

School Readiness Consulting believes that family engagement has a profound impact on student success. Families who feel involved and welcomed in their child’s classroom and school are better equipped to bring learning and education into their homes.  All families play an important role in supporting the learning opportunities presented to their children, because, as Carla Thompson reminded us, “children do not live outside the context of their families.”

How is your program working to improve family involvement?  What strategies has your institution found successful when trying to engage families in their child’s education?

To learn more, check out our brief, Families Know Best, written in partnership with Charles Bruner of the BUILD Initiative and School Readiness Consulting.

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