In a groundbreaking 2010 study on school improvement, family engagement was identified as a key ingredient for school turnarounds. So not only does family engagement support student success – it supports effective school reform.
The study indicated “essential supports” for effective school reform included:
- School leadership as the driver for change
- Family, school and community partnerships
- Professional capacity of the faculty
- A student-centered learning climate
- Instructional guidance.
This study specifically evaluated school improvement in low-income, urban schools. They found that elementary schools with strong family engagement were 10 times more likely to improve in math and four times more likely to improve in reading than schools weak on this measure. That’s why the third standard of the National Standards for Family School Partnerships is Supporting Student Success.
When Standard 3 – Supporting Student Success is achieved, families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school. Families feel well prepared and comfortable to enhance the instruction and social and emotional learning that occurs during in-school and after-school lessons.
The first goal is to share information about student progress. Your PTA can:
- Ensure family-teacher communication
- Link student work to academic standards
- Use standardized test results to increase achievement
- Share school progress
The second goal is to support learning by engaging families. Your PTA can:
- Engage families in classroom learning
- Develop families’ abilities to strengthen learning at home
- Promote after-school learning
To get started, link all PTA events to student learning, including activities focused on making all families feel welcome! Work with school leadership to conduct workshops on interpreting standardized test data. Also, collaborate with teachers to provide fun, family-centered PTA events focused on topics such as literacy, study skills, individual curriculum areas, and college and career planning. Check out our Family Reading Experience and new guides in our Take Your Family to School Week Kit.
For more information about the research on “essential supports” read Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago by Bryk, Bender, Allensworth, and Luppescu.
ENGAGE! is a weekly column on Family Engagement written by Sherri Wilson, Senior Manager of Family and Community Engagement at the National PTA. Sherri is the former Director of the Alabama Parent Information and Resource Center and is currently responsible for developing and implementing programs related to family and community engagement at the National PTA.