Today, National PTA announced that 170 schools and PTAs from across the country have been recognized as 2014-2016 National PTA Schools of Excellence for building strong, effective family-school partnerships. Research shows that when families and schools work together, student achievement increases, schools improve and communities grow stronger. The efforts of these schools and PTAs to engage and involve families are making a substantial, positive impact on student success and well-being. We are pleased to recognize their hard work and achievements, and we congratulate them on their National PTA School of Excellence designation.
National PTA also released a report today that summarizes outcomes for the 2014-2016 National PTA Schools of Excellence from their participation in the program. The outcomes, which were determined from family surveys administered at the beginning of the school year and then again at the end of the year, demonstrate improved family-school partnerships. During the course of the school year, the National PTA Schools of Excellence achieved:
- 46% increase in families that always feel empowered to support student success,
- 53% increase in families that feel they always share power in decision-making related to student success and school improvements,
- 78% increase in families that feel their school and PTA always collaborate with the community, and
- 102% increase in families that feel their school and PTA always speak up for every child.
The findings from National PTA’s report underscore the importance of building family-school partnerships to support student success and continuous school improvement.
As a new school year gets underway, it is an important time for families to make a commitment to get involved and schools to commit to partnering with families to ensure students have the support they need to succeed throughout the year. To build effective family-school partnerships, families and schools should make sure they are:
- Welcoming All Families into the School Community – Families should be active participants in the life of the school and feel welcomed, valued and connected to each other, school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.
- Communicating Effectively – Families and school staff should engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.
- Supporting Student Success – Families and school staff should continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school.
- Speaking Up for Every Child – Families should be empowered to be advocates for their own and other children to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.
- Sharing Power – Families and school staff should be equal partners in decisions that affect children and together inform, influence and create policies, practices and programs.
- Collaborating with the Community – Families and school staff should collaborate with community members to connect students, families and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services and civic participation.
In addition to being designated as 2014-2016 National PTA Schools of Excellence, two schools also have been honored with the 2014 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards for Innovation in Family Engagement. Eden Central PTA in Eden, N.Y., has been recognized with the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Family-School Partnership Award. Mountain View Elementary PTA in Purcellville, Va., has been recognized with the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Family-School Partnership Award of Merit. Named after National PTA co-founder Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the awards are the highest honor presented by the association to recognize local PTAs that have effectively implemented the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Click here to read about the efforts of Eden Central PTA and Mountain View Elementary PTA to reach and engage more families.
Eden Central PTA, Mountain View Elementary PTA and all of the 2014-2016 National PTA Schools of Excellence are true examples of what can be accomplished when families and schools work together.
As we kick off the 2014-2015 school year, I encourage PTAs and schools nationwide to evaluate their current family engagement strategies, brainstorm ideas for family involvement practices and activities, develop a plan to address barriers and open up new ways for families to support student success, and monitor progress throughout the year in reaching family engagement goals. The National PTA School of Excellence program helps guide PTAs and schools to engage more families in student success and school improvement. Learn more and enroll in the program at PTA.org/Excellence.
It is critical that meaningful partnerships are established between families and schools in every district and every school. Together, we can help every child reach his or her full potential and make every child’s dream a reality.
Otha Thornton is president of National PTA.