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ISBE Family Engagement Framework Guide (Rev. 6/1/15)

The Family Engagement Guide brings together research, best practices, and legislative requirements and provides resources that integrate family engagement into the school improvement process. This tool is for school districts and schools to use in developing and expanding school-family partnerships to support student learning and healthy development.​

Download the GuidePDF Document​​​​​​​

Family Engagement Framework Research Review​

  Principle 1: Developing a Family Engagement System

​Substantial research findings reinforce the need for education systems to encourage and support parental involvement. Research has repeatedly demonstrated the positive impact parent involvement, whether in school or at home, has on academic outcomes. Regardless of socio-economic background, students with involved parents are more likely to earn high grades and test scores, enroll in higher level programs, attend school regularly, show improved behavior, and develop better social skills (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). In addition, when people across multiple contexts (e.g., family and school) foster the cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral competencies of children and adolescents, youth development and outcomes improve (Benson, et.al, 2003; and Cook, et.al, 2002).

Unfortunately, a number of districts and schools have approached family engagement in a random and piecemeal way, often times leading to family engagement efforts that are fragmented and marginalized, resulting in less than desirable outcomes. There is now emerging evidence that when districts and schools develop systemic structures that strategically encourage meaningful family and community engagement as an integral part of school improvement efforts, there is significant impact on student learning and how schools function (Blank, Berg, & Melaville, 2006; Bryk, et.al, 2010, and Marschall, 2006). Weiss et.al, concurs that family engagement should be systemic, integrated, and sustained. In order to achieve this, family engagement must be: a core component of educational goals; embedded into existing structures and processes to meet these goals; and operated with adequate resources to ensure that effective strategies can be implemented with fidelity and sustained (2010).

Commitment to Family Engagement

Paramount to a successful family engagement system is the district’s and school’s commitment to family engagement. A study of Department of Defense (DoD) schools showed that a culture which fosters shared responsibility for all students and stakeholders and a "corporate commitment" to supporting families improves safety and well-being for all students. This study also revealed that the achievement gap among white students and students of color is lower among DoD schools than in the states (Smrekar, Gurthrie, Owens & Sims, 2001). Another study by Lopez, et.al, 2001, found that the primary reason schools were successful in involving migrant families was that school personnel were individually and systemically committed to meeting the various needs of the families. Districts and schools can begin to express this commitment by jointly developing a vision/mission for family engagement that is shared with all stakeholders and drives policies and practices.

Leadership

Effective partnerships are created when district and school leadership set the tone and expectations for meaningful partnerships with families and support is provided through both policy and practice (Blank et al., 2006; Bryk et al., 2010; and Fege, 2006). Administrators could demonstrate this by: allocating and reallocating resources for family engagement efforts; ensuring family engagement policies are updated; embedding family engagement efforts into the district/school improvement process; finding ways to integrate family engagement efforts into existing systems, policies and practices; modeling positive interactions with families; and ensuring that programming is in place to build the capacity of staff and families to effectively partner with each other to improve student outcomes.

Capacity Building

Many administrators, teachers and pupil support personnel enter the education system with little to no training on how to engage families to further support student learning and healthy development. Likewise, families often find it difficult to partner with schools in a meaningful way for various reasons. Some of these reasons may relate to a limited understanding of: student/family expectations, how they can support student learning and healthy development, and how schools operate. Therefore, it is necessary to train school personnel and parents to increase their capacity to work together.

Core elements of a professional development system for family engagement include: standards; curriculum that advances skills, knowledge and attitudes; collaboration among various stakeholders; continuing professional development; and evaluation for learning and continuous improvement (Caspe et.al, 2011). Researchers have also identified core implementation components that support practitioners, such as educators, in high-fidelity behavior. These components (also called “implementation drivers”) include but are not limited to in-service training and ongoing coaching and consultation (Fixen & Blase, 1993). Professional development on family engagement should also adhere to these implementation components with a content focus on:

  • Developing family engagement systems
  • Building welcoming and supportive environments
  • Enhancing communication with families
  • Including parents in the decision making process

In addition, data should be utilized to determine professional development needs pertaining to family engagement and family engagement strategies should be incorporated into professional development opportunities across all areas of focus. Of particular importance is assessing cultural biases and developing professional development opportunities to address them. Biases, even unconscious ones, by educators can discourage families from participating and harm any existing partnerships between educators and families (Barajas & Ronnkvist, 2007; Fram, Miller-Cribbs, & Van Horn, 2007).

Families will also present capacity building needs related to engagement that should be addressed. Research has found that parents’ personal self-efficacy has a significant impact on whether or not they will engage in activities that support their children’s learning and healthy development (Eccles & Harold, 1996; Grolnick et al., 1997; Sheldon, 2002; Bandura et al., 1996; and Shumow & Lomax, 2002). Personal self-efficacy refers to a parent’s belief that he/she has the necessary knowledge and skill sets required by the activity as well as the belief that it will result in positive outcomes for his/her child. Districts and school personnel can help build self-efficacy by:

  • promoting family assets, including their cultural and linguistic backgrounds
  • helping parents understand and interpret rules, laws, and policies related to their rights and responsibilities in their children’s education
  • showing family members how they can support learning at home
  • helping parents understand data and how it is used to inform instruction

Community Partnership

Community organizations can be a critical resource in supporting student learning and healthy development. A large body of research has demonstrated that community-based parent support programs, operated in a family-centered manner, increase parents’ self-efficacy and competence (Dunst, et.al, 2006; and Dunst, et.al, 2008). This research also indicates that community-based parent support programs can positively impact the social and emotional development of young children (Dunst and Trivette, 2005; and Layzer, et.al, 2001). A number of community organizations and districts are increasingly partnering together to leverage their resources to address student learning and healthy development and promote family engagement. As a result of these efforts, families are more connected to both schools and these community organizations and efforts are more coordinated across multiple settings. Research is revealing that the community schools model, specifically, has increased family engagement and has improved student learning, attendance, behavior, and development (Coalition for Community Schools, 2009).

Accountability

According to Epstein, in order for family engagement efforts to have the greatest impact and to ensure sustainability, strategies for collecting and analyzing family engagement data must be part of the processes for continual and ongoing improvement (2007). Not only do district and school personnel need to have access to the data, but they also need to have the capacity to use family engagement data in a meaningful way. Likewise, research is starting to show that when district and school personnel help parents understand student and school-wide data in a way that leads to increased knowledge and informed action, family engagement increases and student outcomes improve (Taveras, et.al 2010).

References and Resources

Bandura, Albert; Barbaranelli, Claudio; Caprara, Gian Vittorio; & Pastorelli, Concetta. (1996). Multifaceted impact of self-efficacy beliefs on academic functioning. Child Development, 67(3), 1206-1222.

Barajas, H.L., & Ronnkvist, A. (2007). Racialize space: Framing Latino and Latina experience in public schools. Teachers College Record, vol 9, n 6: 1517-1538.

Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., & Mannes, M. (2003). Developmental strengths and their sources: Implications for the study and practice of community building. In R. M. Lerner, F. Jacobs, & D. Wertlieb (Eds.), Handbook of applied developmental science: Vol. 1. Applying developmental science for youth and families: Historical and theoretical foundations (pp. 369–406). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Blank, M. J., Berg, A. C., & Melaville, A. (2006). Growing community schools: The role of cross-boundary leadership. Washington, DC: Coalition for Community Schools.

Bryk, A.S., Sebring, P.B., Allensworth, E., Luppescu, S., & Easton, J.Q. (2010). Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Caspe, M., Lopez, M.E., Chu, A., & Weiss, H.B. (2011). Teaching the Teachers: Preparing Educators to Engage Families for Student Achievement. PTA & Harvard Family Research Project. May 2011 Issue Brief. Retrieved on www.hfrp.org.

Coalition for Community Schools. (2009). Community schools research brief. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from www.communityschools.orgPDF Document

Cook, T. D., Herman, M. R., Phillips, M., & Settersten, R. A. (2002). Some ways in which neighborhoods, nuclear families, friendship groups, and schools jointly affect changes in early adolescent development. Child Development, 73, 1283–1309.

Dunst, C. J., Bruder, M. B., Trivette, C. M., & Hamby, D. W. (2006). Everyday activity settings, natural learn­ing environments, and early intervention practices. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Dis­abilities, 3, 3-10.

Dunst CJ, Trivette CM. Measuring and evaluating family support program quality. Asheville, NC: Winterberry Press; 2005. Winterberry Monograph Series.

Dunst C.J., Trivette CM, Hamby DW. Research synthesis and meta-analysis of studies of family-centered practices. Asheville, NC: Winterberry Press; 2008. Winterberry Monograph Series.

Eccles, J. S. & Harold, R. D. (1996). Family involvement in children’s and adolescents’ schooling. In A. Booth & J. F. Dunn (Eds.). Family-school links: How do they affect educational outcomes (pp. 3-34). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Fege, A. (2006). Getting Ruby a quality public education: Forty-two years of building the demand for quality public schools through parental and public involvement. Harvard Educational Review, 76(4), 570–586.

Fixsen, D. L., & Blase, K. A. (1993). Creating new realities: Program development and dissemination. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26, 597-615.

Fram, M.S. , Miller-Cribbs, J. & Van Horn, L. (2007). Poverty, race and the contexts of achievement: examining educational experiences of children in the American South. Social Work, 52(4), 309-319.

Grolnick, W. S., Benjet, C., Kurowski, C. O., & Apostoleris, N. H. (1997). Predictors of parent involvement in children’s schooling. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 538-548.

Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family and community connections on student achievement (Research Synthesis). Austin, TX: National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools.

Layzer, J. I., Goodson, B. D., Bernstein, L., & Price, C. (2001). National evaluation of family support programs, Volume A: The meta‐analysis—Final Report. Cambridge, MA: ABT Associates.

Lopez, G. R., Scribner, J. D. & Mahitivanichcha, K. (2001). Redefining parental involvement: Lessons from high-performing migrant-impacted schools. American Educational Research Journal, 38(2), 253-288.

Marschall, M. (2006). Parent Involvement and Educational Outcomes for Latino Students. Review of Policy Research, Volume 23, Number 5 (2006). The Policy Studies Organization.

Sheldon, S. B. (2002). Parents’ Social Networks and Beliefs as Predictors of Parent Involvement. The Elementary School Journal, 102(4), 301-316.

Shumow, L., & Lomax, R. (2001). Parental efficacy: Predictor of parenting behavior and adolescent outcomes. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA.

Smrekar, C., Gutherie, J. W., Owens, D. E., & Sims, P. G. (2001). March toward excellence: School success and minority student achievement in Department of Defense Schools. A Report to the National Education Goals Panel. Washington, DC: National Education Goals Panel. (ED 459 218) Retrieved September 14, 2012 from www.ericdigests.org

Taveras, B., Douwes, C., Johnson, K., Lee, D., & Caspe, M. (2010, May). New visions for public schools: Using data to engage families. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project. Retrieved from www.hfrp.org.

Weis, H.B, Lopez, M.E., Rosenberg, H. (2010). Beyond Random Acts: Family, School, and Community Engagement as an Integral Part of Education Reform. Harvard Family Research Project. Retrieved June 13, 2013 from www.hfrp.org.

 Principle 2: Building a Welcoming Environment

​Although many districts and schools recognize the importance of family engagement in supporting the learning and healthy development of students, many struggle with how to engage families. The saying “if you build it, they will come” does not ring true for many family engagement activities and it is not because parents do not care about their children’s education (Mapp, 2003; Delgado-Gaitan, 2004; Quiocho & Daoud, 2006).

So, why do families become engaged? One contributing factor is a welcoming and supportive environment. According to research by Hoover-Dempsey, et al. (2005), a welcoming environment is one of the most influential indicators of family engagement. Schools that cultivate relational trust, actively reach out to families, respond to family and student needs, and give attention to cultural-sensitivity (all components of a welcoming and supportive environment) have higher levels of family engagement (Bryk, et al., 2010, Epstein & Van Voorhis, 2001).

Relational Trust

Researchers have found that cultivating relational trust is essential to building a welcoming and supportive environment. In addition, relational trust is foundational for school professionals, parents, and community leaders to initiate and sustain efforts at building the essential supports for school improvement. When relational trust is present and school personnel feel supported, they feel safe to try new practices and reach out to parents (Bryk, et al., 2010). A longitudinal study of over 400 elementary schools in Chicago found that relational trust can be established through respectful interactions, personal regard for others, and the demonstration of competence in core role responsibilities and personal integrity. The following behaviors were present in schools with high levels of relational trust:

  • genuine listening to what each person has to say and taking other people’s views into account in subsequent actions;
  • when disagreements occur, opinions were respected;
  • people extending themselves beyond the formal requirements of a job definition or a union contract;
  • transparency;
  • reaching out to others;
  • competency in core role responsibilities; and
  • follow through on commitments.

Outreach

Another key motivator to parents’ decisions to become involved is receiving invitations from teachers. Epstein and colleagues (Epstein, & Van Voorhis, 2001, Dauber & Epstein, 1993, Kohl, et al., 2002) found that teacher attitudes about parents and teacher invitations to parents had a significant impact on parents’ decisions to become involved, especially for parents from lower socio-economic backgrounds, Latino families, and those whose children are enrolled in English-as-a-second-language programs (Griffith, 2001, Closson, et al., 2004). According to Henderson and Mapp, when teachers reported high levels of outreach to parents, test scores improved at a significantly higher rate than when teachers reported low levels of outreach (2002). In one study of high-risk elementary students (Kohl, et al., 2002), there were strong positive links between teacher outreach efforts and parents’ decisions to become involved. They found several key components to involvement. Parents were more likely to be involved when they:

  • enjoyed talking with the teacher;
  • were comfortable asking questions; and
  • had the belief that the teacher really cared about their child and was interested in their suggestions and ideas about the child’s learning.

Other studies have found that when invitations are specific, targeted, and within the range of activities that parents could reasonably manage; parents were more likely to be productively involved in student homework (Balli, et al., 1998). Invitations from teachers to attend parent workshops have also resulted in increased levels of parent involvement and improved outcomes for students in math and reading (Pratt, et al., 1992).

Responsiveness

Parents’ perceptions related to the time, energy, skills, and knowledge necessary to support their child’s learning have significant influence on parents’ decisions to become involved. Socioeconomic backgrounds and family cultures and circumstances also play a role in involvement. Families experiencing circumstances in which resources are scarce, family values and priorities differ from the school system, and knowledge of school expectations and policies is limited face additional barriers to involvement.

Research has shown that when schools are responsive to family needs, they have higher levels of family engagement. Family engagement strategies should reflect careful consideration to the diverse populations served (Colombo, 2006) and give specific attention to family members’ time and their financial or educational limitations so that partnerships can form and thrive (Mantzicopoulos, 2003; McWayne et al., 2004). Likewise, in order for partnerships to cultivate, attention to cultural-sensitivity is necessary (Quiocho & Daoud, 2006; Wong & Hughes, 2006, Valdes, 1999). Districts and schools can improve responsiveness and parental involvement by:

  • learning about the children and families in their community;
  • utilizing a strength-base approach when responding to student and family needs; and
  • inviting parents from diverse background to participate in specific and targeted activities.

References and Resources

Balli, S. J., Demo, D. H., & Wedman, J. F. (1998). Family involvement with children’s homework: An intervention in the middle grades. Family Relations, 47(2), 149–157.

Bryk, A.S., Sebring, P.B., Allensworth, E., Luppescu, S., & Easton, J.Q. (2010). Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Closson, K. E., Wilkins, A. S., Sandler, H. M., & Hoover-Dempsey, K. V. (2004, April). Crossing cultural boundaries: Latino parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.

Colombo, M. (2006). Building school partnerships with culturally and linguistically diverse families. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(4), 314-318.

Dauber, S. L., & Epstein, J. L. (1993). Parents’ attitudes and practices of involvement in inner-city elementary and middle schools. In N. F. Chavkin (Ed.), Families and schools in a pluralistic society (pp. 53–71). Albany: State University of New York Press.

Delgado Gaitan, C. (2004). Involving Latino Families in the Schools. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Epstein, J. L., & Van Voorhis, F. L. (2001). More than minutes: Teachers’ roles in designing homework. Educational Psychologist, 36(3), 181–193.

Griffith, J. (2001). Principal leadership of parent involvement. Journal of Educational Administration, 39(2), 162–186.

Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools. Retrieved July 12, 2013 from www.sedl.org.PDF Document

Hoover-Dempsey, K., Walker, T., Sandler, H., Whetsel, D., Green, C., Wilkins, A., & Closson, K. (2005). Why Do Parents Become Involved? Research Findings and Implications. The Elementary School Journal. Volume 106, Number 2.

Kohl, G. W., Lengua, L. J., & McMahon, R. J. (2002). Parent involvement in school: Conceptualizing multiple dimensions and their relations with family and demographic risk factors. Journal of School Psychology, 38(6), 501–523.

Mantzicopoulos, P. (2003). Flunking kindergarten after Head Start: An inquiry into the contribution of contextual and individual variables. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(2), 268-278.

Mapp, K. L. (2003). Having their say: Parents describe why and how they are engaged in children’s learning. School Community Journal, 13(1), 35-64.

McWayne, C., Hampton, V., Fantuzzo, J., Cohen, H., & Sekino, Y. (2004). A multivariate examination of parent involvement and the social and academic competencies of urban kindergarten children. Psychology in the Schools, 41, 1-15.

Pratt, M. W., Green, D., MacVicar, J., & Bountrogianni, M. (1992). The mathematical parent: Parental scaffolding, parenting style, and learning outcomes in long-division mathematics homework. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 13, 17–34

Quiocho, A. M. L., & Daoud, A. M. (2006). Dispelling myths about Latino parent participation in schools. Educational Forum, 70, 255-267.

Valdes, G. (1999). Con respecto: Building the distances between culturally diverse families and schools an ethnographic portrait. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Wong, S.W., & Hughes, J. N. (2006). Ethnicity and language contributions to dimensions of parent involvement. School Psychology Review. 35, 645-662.​

  Principle 3: Enhance Communication

​According to a study by Christenson, et al., most effective interventions to promote academic and social development of children are those where parents and school personnel work together to implement interventions utilizing a two-way exchange of information and those involving communication between school and home (1997). Paramount to effective communication are the beliefs that: supporting student learning and healthy development is a shared responsibility; all parents can positively impact student outcomes; and parental input and diverse perspectives are valuable (Souto-Manning, M & Swick, K, 2006; Swick, 2003). In addition, when families are engaged in ways that are linked to learning and healthy development, students make greater gains (Henderson, and Mapp, 2002). District and school personnel can support this by sharing information and having a dialogue with parents about:
  • the Common Core and IL Learning Standards
  • the curriculum used to address the standards
  • expectations and classroom activities
  • the strategies teachers are using to promote students’ academic, physical, social, emotional, and behavioral development
  • how parents can enhance student learning and healthy development
  • the types of summative and formative assessments that will be used each year
  • school-wide data and the implications
  • their students’ and school’s progress
  • any academic, physical, social, emotional, or behavioral concerns in a timely manner
  • any strategies that have been implemented to address barrier(s) to learning

Epstein, M., et al. suggests that teachers proactively communicate with families before any problems are identified. Recommendations include:

  • sending positive emails or notes home that highlight the student’s strengths;
  • providing a parent signature log with the child’s homework assignments;
  • communicating regularly by phone; and
  • inviting parents to participate in school events.

However, when social, emotional, behavioral or academic concerns are identified, teachers need to communicate these concerns to the parent and describe any strategies implemented in the classroom to address the barrier(s) to learning. The teacher should also invite the family in solving any school related concerns (2008).

Cultural Considerations

It is critical that programs use communication practices that are sensitive to the diverse language and cultural backgrounds of the families they serve. Sohn and Wang (2006) found that Korean born mothers, even those who spoke English well, had difficulty communicating with teachers face-to-face. Due to their strong reading and English grammar skills, their preference was to communicate with teachers through email or program letters. Rous et al. (2003) also found that families who do not speak English well may have difficulty understanding phone conversations as they are unable to rely on non-verbal cues. Lastly, DuPraw and Axner (1997) and Rous et al. (2003) found vast cultural differences in communication styles and nonverbal behavior across families in their studies. These differences, however, should not be viewed as insurmountable barriers. Awareness of cultural differences, as well as similarities, can help people communicate with each other more effectively.

References and Resources

Christenson, S. L., Hurley, C. M., Sheridan, S. M., & Fenstermacher, K. (1997). Parents’ and school psychologists’ perspectives on parent involvement activities. School Psychology Review, 26, 111-130.

DuPraw, M.E. & Axner, M. (1997). Toward a more perfect union in an age of diversity: Working on common cross-cultural communication challenges. Retrieved from www.pbs.org.

Epstein, M., Atkins, M., Cullinan, D., Kutash, K., and Weaver, R. (2008). Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom: A Practice Guide (NCEE #2008-012). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from www.ies.ed.gov.

Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools. Retrieved July 12, 2013 from www.sedl.org.PDF Document

Rous, B., Hallam, R., Grove, J., Robinson, S., & Machara, M. (2003). Parent involvement in early care and education programs: A review of the literature. University of Kentucky, Interdisciplinary Human Development Institute.

Souto-Manning, M., & Swick, K. J. (2006). Teachers' beliefs about parent and family involvement: Rethinking our family involvement paradigm. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(2), 187–193.

Sohn, S., & Wang, C. X. (2006). Immigrant parents' involvement in American schools: Perspectives from Korean mothers. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(2), 125-132.

Swick, K. (2003). Communication concepts for strengthening family-school-community partnerships. ERIC Journal No. EJ673573.

  Principle 4: Include Parents in Decision-Making

​More research is now emerging that indicates that when parents are included in the decision making process, parental involvement increases and student outcomes improve. Henderson and Mapp found that when parents advocate for their children, their children are more confident at school, take on more and achieve more (2002). A study on Conjoint Behavioral Consultation in which a structured, detailed, and collaborative approach (between schools and families) to decision making and intervention implementation was investigated, findings revealed the process to be effective in addressing various developmental concerns for at-risk children in Head-Start settings (Sheridan, Clarke, Marti, Burt, Rohlk, 2005). In addition, Walber, et al. found that when parents, teachers, administrators, and program developers collaborate in the development of parent involvement programs, student achievement significantly increased (1981).

The empirical research on parental involvement in school decision making is somewhat limited. There are, however, some studies that indicate that taking parental input into account when making school-wide decisions may result in increased parental involvement (Bryk, Sebring, Allensworth, Luppescu, & Easton, 2010). This may be due to the higher levels of relational trust that occur when including parents in the decision-making process. District and school personnel can solicit parental input through parent forums, dialogue, and surveys.

Educators are in a position to promote parental input in the decision-making process for individual students. Likewise, input can be solicited and taken into account when considering school improvement efforts. District and school personnel can play a significant role in empowering parents to be involved in the decision-making process. Lopez recommends that educators empower parents by enhancing their understanding of data to promote change (2002, Spring).

References and Resources

Bryk, A.S., Sebring, P.B., Allensworth, E., Luppescu, S., & Easton, J.Q. (2010). Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools. Retrieved June 10, 2013 from www.sedl.org.PDF Document

Lopez, M.E. (2002, Spring). Learning from Families, The evaluation exchange: A Periodical on Emerging Strategies in Evaluation, Volume VIII, Number 1. Retrieved on July 12, 2013 from www.hfrp.org.

Sheridan, S., Clarke, B., Marti, D., Burt, J., & Rohlk, A. (2005). Conjoint Behavioral Consultation: A Model to Facilitate Meaningful Partnerships for Families and Schools, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Walberg, H., Bole, R., & Waxman, H. (1980). School-based family socialization and reading achievement in the inner city. In Psychology in the schools. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.​​

Family Engagement Standards for Effective Practice

The Illinois State Board of Education developed Family Engagement Standards of Effective Practice to provide guidance to educators, districts, schools, families, and communities as they plan, implement, and evaluate family engagement strategies.

Family engagement must be linked to learning and healthy development. In order to make positive impact on student achievement and school improvement, family engagement systems, policies and practices must be linked to learning and healthy development. For more information on how, please refer to the “Integrating Family Engagement Matrix”. The matrix is intended to provide more specific guidance to educators, districts, schools, families, and communities as they plan, implement, and evaluate family engagement strategies across multiple areas (8 Essential Elements) to support student achievement and close academic achievement gaps.

These Standards are advisory in nature.

The Family Engagement Standards of Effective Practice were based on research and are organized as follows:

Principles

All of the Standards fall under 4 main Principles.

  1. Districts/schools develop a family engagement system that cultivates and empowers adults to jointly support student growth, address any barriers to learning, and ensure college and career readiness.
  2. District and school personnel foster a welcoming environment for families that is responsive to student and family needs.
  3. District and school personnel engage in ongoing and meaningful two-way-exchanges of information with families to support student learning and healthy development.
  4. District and school personnel include parents in the decision-making process.

Standards

The Standards are more specific statements but still fairly global in nature.

Descriptors

Som​e, but not all, Standards have Descriptors which provide even greater specificity.​​​​​​​​

 Principle 1: Developing a Family Engagement System

Standards for Developing a Family Engagement System

Standard Descriptor Description
1A.
A jointly developed vision/mission for family engagement is shared with all stakeholders and drives policies and practices
1B.
Family engagement system, policies and practices are embedded into the district/school continuous improvement process.

1B.1 Family engagement system, policies and practices are coordinated and integrated into existing structures and processes.
1C.
Families’ sociocultural, linguistic, and educational needs are assessed, acknowledged and incorporated into the district/school improvement plan.
1D.
District and school leadership support the development and implementation of an effective family engagement system that is mindful of diverse school-communities and responsive to student and family needs.

1D.1 District and school leadership understand the important role families play in the educational process and the impact family engagement has on student outcomes.

1D.2 District and school leadership understand and promote the implementation of required and effective family engagement practices

1D.3 District and school leadership model positive interactions with parents

1D.4 District and school leadership allocate/reallocate resources for family engagement efforts.

1D.5 District and school leadership recognize the significance of native language and culture to support student learning and strives to build a culture of equity and inclusiveness for linguistically and culturally diverse populations.
1E.
The implementation of family engagement efforts is monitored and evaluated through an on-going data collection system.

1E.1 District and school personnel strategically collect and analyze necessary data to answer key questions that will drive improvements in family engagement efforts.

1E.2 District and school personnel have access to timely and useful family engagement data.

1E.3 District and school personnel have the capacity to use family engagement data in a meaningful way.
1F.
District and school personnel build the capacity of staff to effectively engage families in supporting student learning and healthy development.

1F.1 Data is utilized to determine professional development needs pertaining to family engagement.

1F.2 Professional development efforts incorporate effective family engagement practices.

1F.3 Effective professional development strategies are utilized to build the capacity of district/school personnel.

1F.4 Districts/schools build the cultural proficiency of staff in order to effectively engage parents from diverse backgrounds.
1G.
District and school personnel build the capacity of families to meaningfully engage in activities that support student learning and healthy development.

1G.1 District and school personnel help build the capacity of parents to support learning at home.

1G.2 District and school personnel help parents understand data and how it is used to inform instruction.

1G.3 District and school personnel promote family assets, including their cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

1G.4 District and school personnel build the capacity of parents to understand and interpret rules, laws, and policies for family engagement.
1H.
District and school personnel partner with families to support student learning and healthy development.

1H.1 District and school leadership leverage their partnerships with families to improve student outcomes.

1H.2 District and school leadership engage with parent organizations.

1H.3 District and school personnel regard families as valuable sources of knowledge and information to enhance curriculum and instruction.
1I.
District and school personnel partner with community organizations to enhance family engagement efforts.​​​

 Principle 2: Build a Welcoming Enviornment

Standards for Building a Welcoming Enviornment

Standard Descriptor Description
2A.
District and school personnel, families, and community members acknowledge a shared responsibility for the academic, physical, social, emotional, and behavioral development of youth.
2B.
District and school personnel develop relational trust with families and community members.

2B.1 District and school personnel listen to family and community members and respect their opinions.

2B.2 District and school personnel show personal regard for their students, their families and the community.

2B.4 District and school personnel have the knowledge, skill, and capacity to follow through on their commitments.

2B.5 District and school personnel demonstrate integrity by being transparent, acting in an ethical manner, and following through on commitments.
2C.
District and school personnel reach out to families to support student learning and healthy development.
2D.
District and school personnel are responsive to student and family needs.

2D.1 District and school personnel learn about the children and families in the community.

2D.2 District and school personnel effectively engage parents from diverse backgrounds..

2D.3 District and school personnel utilize a strength-based approach when responding to student and family needs.
2E.
District and school personnel share student accomplishments with his/her family.​​​​

 Principle 3: Enhance Communication

Standards for Enhancing Communication

Standard Descriptor Description
3A.
District and school personnel ensure that communication is clear, constructive, and ongoing.

3A.1 District and school personnel make certain that communication is accessible to all and in the languages of families.

3A.2 District and school personnel use a variety of ways to communicate with families.
3B.
District and school personnel provide information pertaining to parental rights.
3C.
District and school personnel ensure that communication is linked to student learning and healthy development.

3C.1 District and school personnel share information about how standards and curriculum are used by teachers.

3C.2 District and school personnel help families understand student expectations and classroom activities.

3C.3 Teachers inform parents of the strategies they are using to promote students’ academic, physical, social, emotional, and behavioral development.

3C.4 District and school personnel communicate with families about how they can enhance student learning and healthy development.

3C.5 District and school personnel inform parents of the types of summative and formative assessments that will be used each year.

3C.6 District and school personnel share school-wide data with families and communities.

3C.7 District and school personnel communicate regularly with parents about their students’ and school’s progress.

3C.8 District and school personnel communicate with parents about any academic, physical, social, emotional, or behavioral concerns in a timely manner.

3C.9 District and school personnel share with parents any strategies implemented to address barriers to learning.
3D.
District and school personnel communicate district/school/classroom policies and practices.​​​

  Principle 4: Include Parents in Decision Making

Standards for Enhancing Communication

Standard Descriptor Description
4A.
District and school personnel empower parents to be involved in the decision-making process.

4A.1 District and school personnel establish relational trust with families.

4A.2 District and school personnel build the capacity of parents so that they may effectively engage in the decision-making process.

4A.3 District and school personnel partner with community organizations to further empower parents to be involved in the decision-making process.
4B.
District and school personnel solicit input from families and take it into account when making decisions.

4B.1 District and school personnel invite parent opinions on school climate.
4C.
District and school personnel include parents in the continuous improvement process.
4D.
District and school personnel and families jointly develop and review programming for families to support student learning and healthy development.
4E.
District and school personnel encourage parents to participate in any problem-solving discussions related to their child.​​​​

Integrating Family Engagement Matrix

Integrating family engagement efforts across all educational areas (8 Essential Elements) and linking them to learning and healthy development are paramount to achieving positive student outcomes.

The 8 Essential Elements include Comprehensive Planning; Leadership; Curriculum; Instruction; Assessment; Professional Development; Conditions for Learning; Family and Community. This matrix highlights the relationship of best practices as well as the legislative requirements for family engagement with the 8 Essential Elements for Effective Education and offers guiding questions for districts/schools to consider as they jointly plan, implement, and evaluate family engagement efforts across all educational areas.

Legislative Requirements/References

The Legislative Requirements/References of the Family Engagement Framework describes specific mandated school and/or district actions that fall under each Essential Element. Citations for specific laws and regulations follow each required activity.

(Disclaimer: Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of legislative requirements. Districts and schools should reference the actual regulations to ensure adherence to the law.)​​​

 Comprehensive Planning

​Conduct parent input meetings and/or surveys with the required response rate (for Special Education Self-Review).[20 USC 1416(a)(3)(A)]

Coordinate and integrate parent involvement strategies under

  • Title I;
  • Head Start/Early Head Start;
  • Even Start;
  • Parents as Teachers;
  • Home Interaction Program for Preschool Youngsters; state preschools.

[20 USC 6318(a)(2)(D)]

Provide coordination, technical assistance, and other support to school staff for including families as participants in local educational agency (LEA) and school governance and decision making.[20 USC 6318(a)(2)(B)]

Evaluate the content and effectiveness of the parent involvement policy:

  • Identify barriers to participation, especially for diverse parents.
  • Use findings to design more effective strategies.
  • Revise parent involvement policies, as needed.

Refers specifically to Title I, [20 USC 6318(a)(2)(E)]

Coordinate and integrate parent involvement activities with

  • public preschool;
  • other public educational programs;
  • parent resource centers.
[[20 USC 6318(e)(4)]

 Leadership

​Consult parents as programs are being developed[20 USC 7424(c)]

Send notice of and hold regular meetings to obtain recommendations of parents of English learners.[20 USC 7012(e)(2)]

Provide parents with timely information about schools and students in a language and format that they can understand.[20 USC 6318(f)]

Provide parent involvement policy to parents in an understandable and uniform format.[20 USC 6318(a)(2) and (f)]

Inform parents of English learners how they can be involved in the education of their children.[20 USC 7012(e)(1)]

Meet parent notification requirements (under Titles I, III, IX, and X; Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act; and IDEA).[20 USC 7012(b)]

Conduct parent input meetings and/or surveys with the required response rate (for Special Education Self-Review).[20 USC 1416(a)(3)(A)

Provide other reasonable support for parent involvement activities as parents may request.[20 USC 6318(e)(14)]

No administrative certificates and endorsements will be issued only to those who have: (i) an understanding of the knowledge called for in establishing productive parent-school relationships and of the procedures fostering the involvement which such relationships demand; As used in this subsection: “establishing productive parent-school relationships" means the ability to maintain effective communication between parents and school personnel, to encourage parental involvement in schooling, and to motivate school personnel to engage parents in encouraging student achievement, including the development of programs and policies which serve to accomplish this purpose.[(105 ILCS 5/21-7.1)]

 Curriculum

​Inform parents of English learners how they can be involved in the education of their children. [20 USC 7012(e)(1)]

 Instruction​​​

​Provide training and resources to parents on:
  • content standards;
  • academic achievement standards;
  • academic assessment;
  • parent involvement requirements;
  • monitoring academic progress;
  • working with teachers.

[20 USC 6318(e)(1)]

Provide information to families [20 USC 6318(e)(1)] and materials and training to help parents work with their children [20 USC 6318(e)(2); [20 USC 6318d(2),(4),(7)] Conduct other activities to encourage and support parents, including parent resource centers.[20 USC 6318(e)(4)]

Student Achievement has been prepared with review and advice from appropriate parent/community advisory committees. [20 USC 6312(g)(1)(B)(2),20 USC 7012]

 Instruction: Special Education Legislative Mandates

​Agency shall obtain informed consent from the parent prior to providing any special education and related services. [34 CFR 300.300, Parental Consent] IEP teams consider the strengths of the child and the concerns of the parents when developing IEP activities and goals. [34 CFR 300.322, Parent Participation]A parent may revoke consent for the district to provide special education services at any time after the initial consent for services has been provided. Revocation may be provided orally or in writing. [23 IAC 226.540PDF Document; 34 CFR 300.300, Parental Consent]​​

 Assessment

​Provide training and resources to parents on:
  • content standards;
  • academic achievement standards;
  • academic assessment;
  • parent involvement requirements;
  • monitoring academic progress;
  • working with teachers.
[20 USC 6318(e)(1)]

 Assessment: Special Education Legislative Mandates

​Parents have the right to request an independent educational evaluation of their child at district expense when they disagree with the evaluation conducted. [23 IAC 226.180, Independent Educational Evaluation], [Section 14-8.02 (b) of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/14-8.02], [34 CFR 300.502, Independent Educational Evaluation]

Agency shall provide notice to parents about any proposed evaluation procedures. [23 IAC 226.110, Evaluation Procedures]PDF Document

Agency shall make reasonable effort to obtain consent prior to conducting a re-evaluation. Agency must document reasonable efforts to obtain consent. [34 CFR 300.300, Parental Consent]

 Professional Development

​Educate staff in the value of parent involvement, outreach to parents, communication with parents, partnering, implementing parent programs, and building ties between parents and the school. [20 USC 6318(e)(3)]

Self-Assessment and Action Planning Tools

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