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Essential Reads

 Woman reading Essential Reads

» A Culture that Engages Every Family, Steven M. Constantino, Ed.D.

» How to Revitalize Your School-Parent Compact, Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D.

» How Do You Know if You're Really Open to Partnership, Anne Henderson & Karen Mapp

»PTA--Gateway to Engagement, Advocacy, and Access, Meryl Ain, Ed.D.

» The Power of Asking-Instead of Telling, Jody McVittie, M.D.

» Empathy in Action, Rick Ackerly, Ed.M.

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Important Questions for Engaging Every Family

By Steven M. Constantino, Ed.D.

Question Mark

It is truly an honor to be counted among the experts who provide wisdom in the field of family engagement to this blog each month. What I hope my involvement brings into the discussion are systemic and tangible ideas that will allow school personnel to implement and shape family engagement processes and ideas so that school cultures are inclusive of every family

To begin the dialog, I am reminded of two questions that adequately frame this and future conversations about family engagement: 

What do you want?

What are you willing to do to get it?

These two questions go directly to the heart of whether or not we have the will to transform our schools so that every family is engaged, every family is empowered and every family feels as though they have the efficacy to support and nurture the education of their children. Those who know me understand that sooner or later I am going to ask those two questions. (some mouth the questions along with me). I ask the questions and remind folks that the answer to question number two dictates the degree to which you can answer question number one. If you want to lose weight, you cannot eat pasta and chocolate every day. If you want to lead a healthier life, there are clear lifestyle changes that must be adopted. The concept is not difficult. Yet, when I apply those questions to the notion of engaging every family, the conversation seems to always get complicated. 

Engaging every family is a commitment from schools and communities that has far-reaching effects on the learning outcomes of all children. The courage and will to make dramatic change means that we have to examine the policies that govern our schools and districts but do so through a different lens. We must garner a different perspective with regard to our opinions, attitudes and beliefs about how we truly treat and engage families. It doesn’t stop at policies, but includes practices, processes and procedures as well. We must send a clear message that we wish every family to be engaged.

I along with a few colleagues in different parts of the world, have collected and analyzed a great deal of information regarding family engagement policy and practice, not only in the United States, but in several other countries as well. We have concluded that the issues and challenges of engaging every family are global and universal as are the successes in student achievement when family and parent engagement truly takes root.

The New Standards for Global Family Engagement™

The New Standards for Global Family Engagement ™ were born out of a desire to both further promote the ideals of engaging every family in the educational lives of their children and to also bring about systemic and more consistent change with regard to family engagement. For as many years as there has been research in the field of family engagement, there has existed the frustration that successful engagement practices are sporadic. Within school districts, there might be a handful of schools that embrace the concepts of family engagement and within a school, perhaps just a handful of teachers doing the same. These standards for family engagement create a systemic framework that can be overlaid onto school districts so that measurable and tangible results toward the standard can be recorded and celebrated. 

The Five Standards Areas and the Logic Model 


 Logic Model: The New Standards for Global Family Engagement™

The figure above represents a logic model for the New Standards for Global Family Engagement.™ The logic model is designed to place into a hierarchical order the standards by which true family engagement and the ultimate development and nurturing of family efficacy can be implemented and measured. The model suggests that there is a process to successful family engagement practice. Each of the standards areas (of which additional standards are written to support the main idea) falls into a logical sequence of action. In other words, schools and districts wishing to bring about systemic reform in family engagement should begin at the beginning (Standard 1) and follow the model in the direction of the arrow, that being clockwise around the circle.            

Each month the information shared will correlate to one of the standard areas and assist educators with implementing substantive family engagement processes. Rubrics and other tools developed to support the standards will also be made available. The standards can be woven into district and school improvement plans with metrics attached to determine desired outcomes in a comprehensive and systemic manner

The goals and the vision are simple: To engage every family in the educational lives of their children. 

Photo Credit:DoBeRaGi

Posted on April 12, 2012 by Steven M. Constantino, Ed.D.

Steve Constantino is an author, speaker, and thought leader in the field of family engagement as well as the superintendent of the Williamsburg-James City County School District in Williamsburg, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter.

©2012 Steven M. Constantino. All rights reserved

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Tags: *School-Family Partnership

Posted April 12, 2012 by Steve Constantino
Tina, Thanks for your very thoughtful comment. I agree with you that there is a lot that we can learn from the programs you mention. Much of the research base used in our standards, as well as other family engagement programs, is similar to the research that supports Head Start, et al. I love the "share the wheel" analogy. Great stuff!! Thank you. 

Posted April 12, 2012 by Tina
I believe that if school districts around the country would look toward programs that have existed in part due to strong parent involvement and engagement it could be a very easy transition.
Head Start and ECEAP are two such programs that have a wealth of information and already have strong systems in place to support parent involvement/engagement. We need not recreate the wheel simply share the wheel! 


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