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Background on the National Standards

Achieving High Standards

Our children are being educated in an era of standards. Ever since A Nation at Risk was published in 1983, our country has focused on raising the bar for students and teachers. The states were followed by the federal government in insisting that high standards be set for all students, with regular assessments—high-stakes tests—to see if students are measuring up. In 1997, PTA responded to the challenge of ensuring student achievement by issuing its own national standards for parent and family involvement, a proven factor in student success.

Now it’s time to raise the bar again. Our students are making progress but not nearly enough to meet our nation’s ambitious goal, established in the No Child Left Behind Act, of all students being proficient in all subjects by 2014. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only about a third of our 4th- and 8th-graders can read and do math at a proficient level.

There is no alternative to high expectations. And if we want children to achieve at even higher levels, we must also expect more from their parents and families. This means we must agree on what the standards for family engagement are and know what meeting those standards looks like. Using the most recent research and working with national experts, PTA updated its national standards in 2007.* These six standards identify what parents, schools, and communities can do together to support student success.

* When developed in 1997, the standards were called the National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs. With a shift in focus from what schools should do to involve parents to what parents, schools, and communities can do together to support student success, the updated standards were renamed the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships.

National Standards for Family-School Partnerships

Standard 1—Welcoming All Families into the School Community
Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.

Standard 2—Communicating Effectively
Families and school staff engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.

Standard 3—Supporting Student Success
Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.

Standard 4—Speaking Up for Every Child
Families are 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.

Standard 5—Sharing Power
Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.

Standard 6—Collaborating with Community
Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.