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First Steps

First Steps to Building a Family-School Partnership


This guide will help local school communities implement programs, practices, and policies that encourage partnerships between families, schools, and communities and promote student success. Use the guide and the supporting resources at the Family-School Partnership resources page to educate your community about the importance of family involvement, and to direct the development of effective partnerships.

To put these materials to best use, form a school action team focused on promoting family and community involvement. Include parents, other caregivers and family members, school staff, community members, and even students. Have the whole team familiarize themselves with the whole guide, but also consider establishing a subteam for each standard. Offer opportunities for a diverse group of individuals to lead those subteams.

Once the organizational structure is in place, consider the following steps:

Step 1
Assess your school’s current practices for engaging families and the community in improving school climate and student success. Invite each member of the action team to review the National Standards Assessment Guide and identify how well he or she thinks the school is doing on each indicator--excelling, progressing, emerging, or below the scale. Compile the results and discuss them with the whole team and the school principal to decide where and how to focus efforts. The action team should also distribute the Power of Partnerships Family Survey to make sure the team’s perspective is consistent with that of the broader school community.

Step 2
Begin planning based on the assessment, survey findings, and your discussions with the school principal. The guide provides a number of action ideas for each standard to help you get started, as well as success stories showing how real schools have more effectively engaged families. Use the action plan template to document your goals and objectives. Remember, building successful partnerships between families and schools is a process, not an event. One-time events can be a good beginning, but it’s important to make sure there’s a continued connection to supporting student learning.

Step 3
Present the action plan to the school community for feedback and buy-in. When families feel invited into the development of involvement programs, practices, and policies, there is a greater likelihood of success.

Step 4
Put the plan into action and monitor your progress throughout the school year. Your action plan should be a living document. If something is not working, go back to the plan and make the necessary changes.

Step 5
At the end of the school year, document your successes and share them with the school community, which includes families, students, teachers, the superintendent, school board members, the local newspaper and other media, community members, businesses and other potential donors, and partnering organizations. PTAs are also encouraged to share their successes with the PTA national office via e-mail to Download a customizable PTA Report to the Community.

Step 6
As you plan for the next school year, explore how you can build on your accomplishments. Learn from the strategies that did and did not work, and always seek opportunities to engage new and different voices in the process.



Background on the National Standards
Background information on the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships



National Standards Implementation Guide
A PDF guide to implementing the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships (8.5 MB)

Action Plan Template
Family-School Partnership action plan template and sample plan