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.
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.
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.
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. 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?
- Improve 2-way communication,
- Increase the families’ role in student learning, or
- Increase community resources to strengthen school, families, and student learning.
Strengths and Areas of Concern
- What are the unique strengths of the community that influence student success?
- What are the target areas of the school’s overall improvement goals and how can collaboration with families and community support those goals?
Priorities to Address
- How can you address student needs through family and community collaboration?
- What steps might be taken to prioritize the student needs?
For school personnel, parents or community partners who want to access current family engagement research, websites, promising practices, or tools for evaluation, go to the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) Family and Community Engagement website.
To continue the continuous improvement process, click on:
Planning to Improve