Using the Toolkit

Family & Community Engagement: The Four Phases

-Creating the Profile

-Setting the Goals

Guiding Questions
Step-by-Step Process

-Planning to Improve

-Implementing the Plan


-Guiding Questions

-Program Requirements (PDF)
-Targeting Areas of Low
-Community Involvement Strategies
Research Articles
- Administrator Days' presentation material 2013
Administrator Days' presentation material 2014
- Beyond the Bake Sale

Topic Guides for CIP Plans

Equity and Diversity

Family & Community Engagement

Instructional Strategies

Nebraska Literacy Plan

PreK-12 Curriculum Alignment

Special Education: Improving Learning for Children with Disabilities (ILCD)


Improvement Plan Requirements


Early Childhood

The Nebraska Framework:
A Handbook for Continuous Improvement in Nebraska Schools

Nebraska Statewide Assessment (NeSA)

Professional Development, Data Resources, and Links

Rule 10

State of the Schools Report

Nebraska Department of Education

US Department of Education


Contact Us

Setting the Goals


The effort of engaging family and community is a continuous process reflecting a shared philosophy and an attitude that becomes imbedded in the school community’s vision, mission, and heartbeat. This philosophy permeates the entire school improvement process. Family and Community Engagement is not a separate, stand-alone theme of school improvement, but is a thread that runs throughout all school practices. The book Beyond the Bake Sale, describes four types of schools to consider from a "Partnership" to a "Fortress"school, click here. One clear and complete guide for designing school goals is the National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs, 2004, developed by the National PTA. This document which many Nebrska schools have, includes a brief review of current national research and articulates standards for family and community involvement which NCLB has endorsed.  "The National PTA has updated the standards at http://www.pta.org/programs/content.cfm?ItemNumber=3038

Areas of Need

To begin setting the goals, consider your school’s mission: what do you wish to address first? If you know the areas of learning which most need improving, it would be logical to engage your family and community partners in that area(s). For example, if a school goal is to improve student performance in language arts, and 3rd grade is to plan, compose and revise paragraphs, stories and letters, 4th grade is to raise vocabulary scores, and fifth grade is to understand a variety of printed materials, you might: provide parents with various resources and strategies to help their children succeed academically, in these skills. Information would be provided on a regular basis through grade-level newsletters or web sites containing study guides or homework tips, suggestions through parent/student/teacher conferences, or brief workshop demonstrations of interactive strategies to use at home. If you chose to inform by newsletter, here are sugestions. Various NDE subject area websites provide some homework support. As a community example, schools might collaborate with the extension office or a business partnership to share the development of the goal of improving language arts, including consideration of the specific objectives for different grade levels.

Priorities to Address

In team planning, address how student needs can be met through collaboration. Identify what you need, and which elements of family and community engagement are already in place, and how you can expand those to increase other areas of partnership that may be lacking. The research tells us that we may not need to create more events or strategies, but just be more intentional and focused on including partners in children’s learning. For example, Beyond the Bake Sale stresses the importance of honoring families. See those suggestions here.

Considering the 6 types of involvement: welcoming all families into the school, communicating effectively, supporting student success, speaking up for every child, sharing power, and collaborating with the community, how is your school doing? The National PTA has developed assessments to evaluate the standards for schools in family and community engagement. A condensed version of the assessments can be found here . The assessment data, if collected, would clearly identify the strengths of the families, the community and the connections or collaborations already in place. Likewise, it will reveal the areas where communication and engagement are lacking. Examine these, carefully. Whether the different stakeholders agree on strengths and weaknesses will be evident, and that issue may need to be addressed by your team, as step one. After reviewing your assessment, did you find you needed to set a goal in one of the following areas?

Guiding Questions

Strengths and Areas of Concern

Priorities to Address

Step-by-Step Process

Step 1: Review school practices related to family and community engagement with your school team, including family and community members. Use an assessment (e.g., National PTA) to evaluate current practice. A parent survey or parent focus groups will give direction as far as the needs of the families, (see tools.)

Step two: Apply the findings using the team’s discussion of the assessment results, together with the mission and goals of the school and the areas of student achievement that most need improvement, to determine:

Step three: Develop (or review) a written family/community engagement policy stating the philosophy that partners will be included in children’s learning, as required in NCLB. For ideas to focus on student learning, click here.

Step four: Develop a plan for implementation of activities that will increase children’s learning, by engaging families and community members as partners with the school.

To continue the continuous improvement process, click on:
Planning to Improve

Nebraska Department of Education, 2010