Focus Areas

Family engagement in schools matters

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Decades of research back up what we know and value: Family involvement is the real key to our kids’ success.

WHAT MATTERS MOST

Well-informed, engaged parents make a difference for student success in school and beyond.

A home environment that encourages learning is a bigger factor in student achievement than a parent’s income, education level or cultural background.

Whether it’s reading together, monitoring homework at the kitchen table, talking to teachers about a child’s progress, joining PTA or taking an active part in school governance and decision-making, parent involvement is vital to student achievement.

 

Decades of research indicates that students with involved parents are more likely to attend school regularly, perform better in school, develop better social skills and go on to post-secondary education.

As important stakeholders, engaged parents take part in all aspects of their child’s education and development from preschool to high school. This successful strategy is based on a shared understanding in a school community that parents are children’s first teachers and key resources in their education and growth.

WHAT IS FAMILY ENGAGEMENT?

“…[C]ommunicating and doing things with your student, your student’s teacher or your student’s school to support your student’s learning and success. Parents, family members and other caregivers can be involved in a student’s education in many ways.” – California Department of Education

FAMILY-ENGAGEMENT PRACTICES IN CA SCHOOLS

With the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), school districts are required to engage parents in making important decisions about their schools to support student success. This includes the requirement for parent involvement in shaping school districts’ Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) by:

  • Actively engaging parents in strategic planning and decision-making
  • Seeking parent input on the needs, priorities, goals and spending in a districts’ LCAPs.

With parent involvement as one of the eight key areas in LCAPs, authentic family engagement in schools is vital for school improvement and student achievement.

In their accountability plans, school districts must address family engagement, which can help improve academic outcomes—especially for disadvantaged students. A recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) identifies promising family engagement strategies from a review of 15 high-need districts in the state, noting that effective strategies are culturally appropriate and aim to support student learning at home.

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Three Tips for Year-Round Engagement

  • INVOLVEMENT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE – Research shows family engagement is a major factor in student success, with an encouraging home environment serving as a bigger factor in student achievement than a parent’s income, education level or cultural background. Engaged parents take part in all aspects of their child’s education and development from preschool to high school. And with parent involvement as one of the eight key areas in the new Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), authentic family engagement in schools is vital for school improvement and student achievement.
  • PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION IS KEY — Strong interaction, teamwork and partnership between families and teachers creates the optimal environment for student success. Parents can make a difference by staying up-to-date on classroom and school news, attending school events whenever possible and addressing concerns or questions honestly, openly and early on.
  • PARENT-ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND – New state laws and standards mean new opportunities for parents to get involved in the education process. Parents’ advocacy, involvement and feedback on school priorities are required as part of the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and related Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), making family engagement more important than ever before. Families can contact their school districts to make their voices heard in the LCFF/LCAP process. In addition, parents can contact their schools to see if they offer the California State PTA’s award-winning School Smarts Parent Engagement Program, which offers family-friendly training on California’s education system and how parents can be effective advocates for their children and schools.

RESEARCH BRIEFS: FAMILY ENGAGEMENT IN THE HOME AND IN SCHOOL

  • Harvard Family Research Project Family Involvement Makes a Difference is a set of research briefs that examines one set of complementary learning linkages: family involvement in the home and school. The briefs in this series examine family involvement in early childhood, elementary school, and middle and high school settings. Taken together, these briefs make the case that family involvement predicts children’s academic achievement and social development as they progress from early childhood programs through K–12 schools and into higher education.
  • Seeing is Believing: Promising Practices for How School District Promote Family Engagement – Harvard Family Research Project and the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) have teamed up to bring you this ground-breaking policy brief that examines the role of school districts in promoting family engagement.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES