Family-school-community partnerships are a shared responsibility and reciprocal process whereby schools and other community agencies and organizations engage families in meaningful and culturally appropriate ways, and families take initiative to actively supporting their children’s development and learning. Schools and community organizations also make efforts to listen to parents, support them, and ensure that they have the tools to be active partners in their children’s school experience.
Partnerships are essential for helping students achieve at their maximum potential and, while parent and community involvement has always been a cornerstone of public schools, greater recognition and support of the importance of these collaborative efforts is needed.
Research shows that – at both the elementary and secondary level – when schools, parents, families, and communities work together, students:
earn higher grades;
attend school more regularly;
stay in school; and,
are more motivated.
This is true for students of all ages, all backgrounds, and across race and ethnicity. Furthermore, a variety of supports cutting across the spectrum of social, health, and academic needs may be necessary for school success. High quality schools have demonstrated track records connecting with community resources and families to improve student outcomes in all domains of development.
While the failure of immigrant or non-English speaking families to come to school or meet with teachers is often interpreted by the schools as “not caring” about their children’s education, this is most often NOT the case. Bilingual resources and staff, programs to help parents understand how to support their children’s education, and parent liaisons who can connect the school and families to linguistically and culturally diverse community resources can be highly effective strategies for developing partnerships between schools, families, and the community.
Foundations for academic success begin in early childhood and are further developed during elementary school years. Conversely, patterns of failure and disengagement also begin early. For example, struggling readers are likely to continue to experience ongoing difficulties in secondary school. Continuity with family engagement strategies and partnerships with community programs from Pre-K/Elementary School to middle and high school can help support academic achievement throughout students’ school tenure.
Handbook on Family and Community Engagement. (2011 ). http://www.families-schools.org/downloads/FACEHandbook.pdf
Epstein, J. L. et al. (2009). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action . Third edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
National Network of Partnership Schools’ (NNPS) semi-annual newsletter “Type 2”, found at http://www.csos.jhu.edu/p2000/type2/index.htm. This archive of free, downloadable newsletters shares examples of featured practices of school, family, and community partnerships, solutions to challenges, and guidelines for continuous improvement in program development.
Parent, Family, Community Involvement in Education. NEA Policy Brief . (2008). http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf
The Power of Family School Community Partnerships: A Training Resource Manual. (2011). National Education Association. http://www2.nea.org/mediafiles/pdf/FSCP_Manual_2012.pdf.
Adelman, H. & Taylor, L. (2007). Fostering School, Family, and Community Involvement. The Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence & Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Available at: http://safesupportiveschools.ed.gov/index.php?id=71&go=http%3A//smhp.psych.ucla.edu/publications/44%2520guide%25207%2520fostering%2520school%2520family%2520and%2520community%2520involvement.pdf.
National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group: Recommendations for Federal Policy . Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project; 2009. Available at www.ncpie.org/docs/FSCEWkgGroupPolicyRecs.pdf.