School of Excellence Tools (2020—2021)

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Thank you for participating in the 2020-21 National PTA School of Excellence program for consideration of the 2020-22 National PTA School of Excellence designation. We look forward to working with you throughout the 2020-21 school year to strengthen family-school partnerships and rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.

This webpage will serve as your one-stop shop throughout the school year for step-by-step guidance, training and resources! Bookmark this page for your records, check regularly and refresh for new content, and add to your contact list in your emails.

Don’t let School of Excellence program emails go to your SPAM folder.

Who is Participating?

The enrollment period for the 2020-21 School of Excellence program is now closed.

Check HERE for a complete list of PTAs who are newly enrolled in the program. These newly enrolled PTAs should now be building their teams (Step #1), surveying their school communities (Step #2), using those survey results to identify a focus area (Step #3) and complete the Initial Application link (Step #4) by November 15. You can find a RUNNING LIST of the PTAs who have completed the Initial Application. This report is updated bi-weekly. 

In addition to our new enrollees, the 2020-21 program cycle will include the 537 PTAs who re-enrolled after the 2019-20 program was postponed due to the impacts of the pandemic. These PTAs will be picking up where they left off in rebuilding their plan of work (Step #5).


Step 1: Enroll and Gain Support (June 1 - Oct. 15 deadline extended from Oct. 1)

Now that you have enrolled in the program, you can start building your Excellence Team. This team of inclusive volunteers will help you through the remaining program steps. 

Step 2: Deploy Baseline Survey (Sep. - Nov.)

Early in the school year, your Excellence Team will deploy National PTA’s Baseline Survey to your school community—including families, administrators and teachers. The format of your Baseline Survey can be whatever works best for your PTA, school and family members. While some PTAs opt to distribute the Baseline Survey by paper, others create an online version of the survey. 

This year, as many schools will be starting remotely, we strongly recommend that you transfer the survey questions to an online platform (e.g., GoogleDoc, SurveyFace) and deploy the survey virtually.

DO NOT CHANGE OR EDIT these survey questions, as you will use the same survey questions again at the end of the year to gauge progress. However, you are encouraged to ask for open-ended responses or additional questions to determine the greatest needs of your school community. Consider asking direct questions to help guide COVID-19 relief efforts in the areas of food security, mental health and social emotional support, distance learning or internet and device access.

While there is no set number of survey responses required by National PTA, we strongly encourage you to collect as many survey responses as possible to best inform your work throughout the school year.

  • Tips for Surveying Remotely - As many school communities start with distance learning, you may need to consider new methods for deploying the baseline survey questions to your school community. Consider these tips and tricks collected from a host of PTA leaders on how to survey remotely:

    • Transfer the survey questions to a free, online platforms (e.g., GoogleDoc, SurveyMonkey, SurveyFace, pre-existing district/school platform)
    • Host a virtual welcome back night or fall festival for all families and include the online survey link in the program or chat
    • Provide the link to the survey in your school and PTA meetings
    • Host an online listening session with your community to learn about their greatest needs that the PTA can support and provide the survey link in the chat
    • Provide pre-printed surveys at physically distanced events or food/resource pick-up locations following CDC safety guidelines with touch-free collection boxes
    • Employ room parents or grade representatives to distribute their surveys by email using class lists
    • Ask the principal, trusted teachers, administrators and family support personnel to push out the surveys on the PTA's behalf
    • Use all of the platforms available to you for online survey distribution:
      • PTA and school Facebook pages and Facebook Live events
      • YouTube, websites and social media
      • Principal messages
      • School and PTA newsletters
      • Divide phone lists with your Excellence Team
      • Deploy the survey link through text messaging
      • Explore new virtual platforms like ClassDojo or Bloomz
    • Provide a central home address or location(s) for collection (sample mailbox from Harmony Elementary PTA in Texas) following CDC safety guidelines
    • Provide rationale as to why you are surveying (e.g., modify the SAMPLE letter above)

Step 3: Set a Shared Objective (Sep. - Nov.)

After your Excellence Team compiles feedback from your school community, the next step is to have discussions/ hold meetings to analyze what you have learned and discuss ways that your PTA can better engage families throughout the year. In addition to moving the needle in your survey results from the start to the end of the school year, your Excellence Team will pick one focus area and objective that you plan to concentrate on in the upcoming school year: education, health & safety, the arts or COVID-19 recovery. See the Program Leader Guide (en Español) for a comprehensive list of objectives.

Step 4: Complete Initial Application (Oct. 1 - Nov. 15 deadline extended from Nov. 1)

Once your Excellence Team has analyzed the feedback from your surveys and determined your focus area and shared objective, you will submit your results through the online link below. 

The Initial Application period is NOW OPEN! To move forward in the process and remain in consideration for the designation, you must submit this application at the link below by the Nov. 15 deadline.

Step 5: Follow Roadmap to Excellence (Throughout School Year)

Now is the time to work with your Excellence Team to develop your School of Excellence action plan, prioritize your work, and access all resources available to you. Be intentional with the feedback you've received from the field to identify a school improvement goal that will continuously enhance school programs, policies and/or practices.

Using your focus area, your job will be to create an action plan that will move the needle to the ALWAYS category in any areas of need in your Final Survey. Be sure to include at least one National Standard for Family-School partnerships and one of the Four I's for Transformative Family Engagement in your work.

Use the resources available to you, including the online Roadmap to Excellence. Your Excellence Team will determine which of the recommendations will have the greatest impact on increasing family engagement and achieving results. Meet with your Excellence Team regularly, hold each other accountable, document your progress and celebrate your accomplishments along the way!

  • Use the Roadmap to Excellence resource guide from National PTA as well as additional local/state resources and community partnerships to accomplish your goals. Work with your Excellence team to develop other resources and partnerships that apply to your specific action plan. As you develop your goals and action plan, make sure that your work is aligned with feedback from the field for continuous school improvement. You will be asked to explain the measurable outcomes produced as a result of this work.  

  • *As you move through your action plan, make sure that your work is based in best practices for family engagement. You will be asked to explain how you incorporated this information into your action plan for improvement in your Final Application (Step #7):

  • National Standards for Family-School Partnerships

    • Welcoming ALL Families into the School Community - create a climate that is welcoming for all families and build/develop a respectful, inclusive school community

    • Communicating Effectively - keep families informed about important issues and events and make it easy for parents to communicate with all school personnel

    • Supporting Student Success - ensure families know about their child’s academic progress and how well the entire school is progressing, engage families in classroom learning, promote after-school learning opportunities

    • Speaking Up for Every Child - empower families to advocate and support their own and other children’s success in school and beyond

    • Sharing Power - strengthen the families’ voice in shared decision making, address issues in your school and/or community, work with the school to amplify the parent voice and cultivate parent leadership

    • Collaborating with the Community - work closely with community organizations and/or businesses to strengthen the school, make resources available to students, school staff and families and build a family-friendly community

  • PTA’s Center for Family Engagement - The Four 'I's of Transformative Family Engagement

    • Inclusive - invite diverse perspectives, question assumptions, intentionally build relationships

    • Individualized - personalize invitations, tailor experiences, be responsive

    • Integration - link to learning, put the "T" in PTA, go beyond one-time events

    • Impactful - develop knowledge and skills, provide opportunities to practice and interact, measure success

  • Recommended Trainings (optional):

    Coming Soon!

    • Opt-In Training Calls 

    • Tips, Resources and Useful Information to Complete Step #5

    • Opt-In Program Surveys—to share your plans and successes up to this point in the program process 

Step 6: Deploy Final Survey (March - June)

Towards the end of the school year, your Excellence Team will deploy National PTA's Final Survey questions to your school community—including families, administrators and teachers—to evaluate your progress over the school year. The format of your Final Survey can be whatever works best for your PTA, school and family members. While some PTAs opt to distribute the Final Survey by paper, others create an online version of the survey. Feel free to add open-ended responses or additional questions but DO NOT CHANGE OR EDIT these questions. While there is no set number of survey responses required by National PTA, we strongly encourage you to collect as many survey responses as possible to best show your progress. Once you have the results from the Final Survey, analyze them with your school administrators to determine the progress you've made this year and develop a new focus area for next year.

  •  *Use these specific 20 survey questions when completing step #6.* These are the same questions you used during Step #2.

    • SAMPLE Letter to School Community (en Español) to edit and addend to your survey. This time, we strongly recommend that you include what you have accomplished thus far, based on the feedback from your school community.
    • Coming Soon! Training and tips on how best to complete Steps #6 - #7
Step 7: Complete Final Application (May 1 - June 1)

Once your Excellence Team has analyzed your survey data, discussed your greatest accomplishments in the program and determined your focus area and shared objective for next school year, you will submit your results through an online link that will become available May 1. In order to remain in consideration for the designation, you must submit this application at the link below by the deadline.

  • Coming Soon!

    • The Final Application Link (to open May 1)

    • SAMPLE Final Application

    • Training and tips on how best to complete Steps #6 - #7

Step 8: Celebrate Your Excellence (Aug.)

School of Excellence designations will be announced in August 2021. Those who earn the designation will receive a banner and certificate in the mail as well as digital celebration tools and national recognition.

  • A banner and digital celebration kit will be distributed to those designated as 2020-2022 Schools of Excellence in September 2021.

  • Designated Schools of Excellence will automatically qualify for consideration of the prestigious Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Family-School Partnership Award.

  • Many PTAs choose to reenroll in the School of Excellence program each year, regardless of their designation status, to continue their momentum gained in building family-school partnerships.

Emails from National PTA


We're here to help every step of the way! Contact Amy Weinberg and Ellie Miller at