Engaging Parents in Transforming Schools

What works? Research shows the way and here is what it says:

Parents as the first – and lifelong – teachers of their children
  • Parental reinforcement, encouragement, and support can advance a child’s ability to achieve while contributing to a climate of collaboration in a school. (Henderson et al., 1994)
  • Parental involvement helps a child achieve social success and diminishes behavioral problems.
  • Genuine parental engagement produces long-term relationships, connects the school community to the larger community, and creates structures for becoming involved in a child’s education – for example, accessing all pertinent information about the school environment and educational options.
Requiring all stakeholders, including parents to be involved
  • Schools are like ecosystems – all of their many parts support one another and are critical to success.
  • A large, longitudinal study by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research identified five essential, inter-related elements of school transformation: 1. leadership, 2. professional capacity, 3. academic content/instructional guidance, 4. student-centered learning climate, and 5. parent-school-community ties. (Bryk, Sebring, Allensworth, Lippescu and Easton, 2010)
  • While no one-size-fits all approach exists, many communities are building on research-tested models and getting results – for example, California, Maryland, Oklahoma and Phoenix, Arizona.
Stop looking for silver bullets – they don’t exist
  • Reorganizing a school does not magically lead to results. To bring improvement, the new organization must build a greater sense of inclusion and social trust among different members of the community: administrators, teachers, parents, and students. (Bryk and Schneider)
  • Threatening reconstitution can trigger intense short-term efforts – like focusing on test preparation – that may help get a school off probation, but do not lay a foundation for long-term, substantive improvement. (Finnegan and Gross, 2007; White and Rosenbaum, 2008)
  • Other unintended consequences often include a stressful atmosphere that encourages many educators to leave – and when they do, strong social and community connections go with them. (Sunderman, 2001 Wong and Agnostopolous, 1998)

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association