school do a good job of reaching out to parents? Use this Checklist
below based on the Six Slices of Parental
- our N
ational Standards -to
evaluate and improve parent-school partnerships:
improving your school's parent-school partnerships is by assessing
present practices. The following questions can help you evaluate how
well your school is reaching out to parents.
- Which partnership practices are currently working well at
each grade level? Which partnership practices should be improved or
- How do you want your school's family involvement practices
to look three years from now?
- Which present practices should change and which should
- Which families are you reaching and which are hard to
- What can be better done to communicate with the latter?
- What costs are associated with the improvements you want?
- How will you evaluate the results of your efforts?
arrange for teachers, parents, and students to share information on
successful practices in order to strengthen their own efforts?
Goal: Recruit and organize parent help and support.
Sample Best Practices:
- Distribute Project Appleseed's learning compact known as
the Parental Involvement Pledge to recruit and
organize parent volunteers.
- Distribute Project Appleseed's Parental
Card. The Report Card is intended to help
parents evaluate their contributions to their child's success at school.
- Use the Parental
Survey to identify all
available talents, times, and locations of volunteers.
- School and classroom volunteer program to help teachers and
administrators students and other parents. Parent room or center for
volunteer work, meetings, resources for families.
- Class parent, telephone tree, or other structures to
provide all families with needed information.
- Parent patrols or other activities to aid safety and
operation of school programs.
In a U.S. Department of Education study,
I principals were asked to rate the helpfulness of compacts in
different types of school and family outcomes. Responses
the highest-poverty schools, 85
percent of principals found Title I compacts helpful in supporting
- About 8 out of 10 principals in high-poverty
Title I schools rated compacts as helpful, as did a majority of
principals in low-poverty
the Parental Involvement Pledge to recruit volunteers widely so
that all families know that their time and talents are welcome.
- Make flexible schedules for volunteers, assemblies, and
events to enable parents who to participate.
- Organize volunteer work, provide training, match time and
talent with school, teacher, and student needs, and recognize efforts
so that participants are productive.
- Skill in communicating with adults.
- Increased learning of skills that receive tutoring or
targeted attention from volunteers.
- Awareness of many skills, talents, occupations, and
contributions of parents and other volunteers.
- Understanding teacher's job; increased comfort in school
interactions and carryover of school activities at home.
- Self-confidence in ability to work in school and with
children, or take steps for own education or work.
- All-family awareness that families are welcomed and valued
- Gains in specific skills of volunteer work.
- Readiness to involve families in new ways, including those
who do not volunteer at school.
- Awareness of parent talents and interest in school and
- Greater individual attention to students, with help from
Goal: Help all families establish home environments to support
children as students.
Sample Best Practices
- School provides suggestions for home conditions that
support learning at each grade level.
- School provides workshops, videotapes, and/or computerized
phone messages on parenting and child-rearing at each grade level.
- Parent education and other courses or training for parents
(e.g., GED, college credit; family literacy).
- Family support programs to assist families with health
nutrition, and other services.
- Home visits at transition points to preschool, elementary,
middle and high school; and neighborhood meetings to help families
understand schools and to help schools understand families.
- Provide information to all families who want it or who need
it, not just to the few who can attend workshops or meetings at the
- Enable families to share information about culture,
background, children's talents and needs with schools.
- Assure that all information for and from families is clear,
usable, and linked to children's success in school.
- Awareness of family supervision; respect for parents
- Positive personal qualities, habits, beliefs, values,
taught by family.
- Balance in time on chores, other activities, and homework.
- Awareness of importance of school.
- Understanding and confidence about parenting, child and
adolescent development, and changes in home conditions for learning as
children proceed through school.
- Awareness of own and others' challenges in parenting.
- Feeling of support from school and other parents.
- Understanding families' backgrounds, cultures, concerns,
goals, needs, and views of their children.
- Respect for families' strengths and efforts.
- Understanding of student diversity.
- Awareness of own skills to share information on child
Goal: Design more effective forms of school-to-home and
home-to-school communications with all families each year about school
programs and their children's progress.
Sample Best Practices
- Conferences with every parent at least once a year, with
follow-ups as needed.
- Language translators assist families as needed.
- Weekly or monthly folders of student work are sent home and
reviewed, parental comments returned to teacher.
- Parent and student pick-up of report card, with conferences
on improving grades.
- Regular schedule of useful notices, memos, phone calls,
newsletters, and other communications.
- Clear information on choosing schools, or courses,
programs, and activities within schools.
- Clear information on all school policies, programs reforms,
- Review the readability, clarity, form, and frequency of all
memos, notices, and other print and non-print communications.
- Consider parents who do not speak English well, do not read
well, or need large type.
- Review the quality of major communications such as the
schedule, content, and structure of conferences; newsletters; report
cards and others.
- Establish clear two-way channels for communications from
home to school and school to home.
- Awareness of own progress, and actions needed to maintain
or improve grades.
- Understanding of school expectations and procedures for
behavior attendance and other policies.
- Informed decisions about courses and programs.
- Awareness of own role in partnerships, serving as courier
- Understanding school programs and policies.
- Monitoring and awareness of child's progress.
- Conduct of responsive activities to address student's
problems as needed.
- Interactions with teachers and ease of communications with
school and teachers.
- Increased diversity and use of communications with
families, and awareness of own ability to communicate clearly.
- Appreciation and use of parent network for communications.
- Increased ability in two-way communications for family
views of children's programs and progress.
4. Learning at home
Goal: Provide information and ideas to families about how to
help students at home with homework and other curricular-related
activities, decisions, and planning.
Sample Best Practices
- Information for families on skills required for students in
all subjects at each grade.
- Information on homework policies and how to monitor, and
discuss schoolwork at home.
- Information on how to assist students to improve skills on
various class and school assignments.
- Regular schedule of homework that requires students to
discuss and interact with families on what they are learning in class
- Calendars with activities for parents and students at home.
- Family math, science, and reading, activities at school.
- Goal setting for students with families each year, and for
future plans for college or work.
- Design and organize a regular schedule of interactive
homework (e.g., weekly or bimonthly) that gives students responsibility
for discussing important things they are learning, and helps families
stay aware of the content of their children's class work.
- Coordinate family linked homework activities, if students
have several teachers.
- Involve families with their children in all important
curricular related decisions.
- Gain skills, abilities, and test scores linked to homework
and class work.
- Homework completion.
- Positive attitudes toward schoolwork.
- View of parent as more similar to teacher, and home more
similar to school.
- Self concept of ability as learner.
- Awareness of own role in sharing schoolwork at home, and of
links of learning to real life situations.
- Know how to support, encourage, and help student at home
- Discussions of school, class work, and homework.
- Understanding of instructional program each year, and what
child is learning in each subject.
- Appreciation of teaching skills.
- Awareness of child as learner.
- Better design of homework assignments.
- Respect of family time.
- Recognition of equal helpfulness of single parent, working
mom, and less formally educated families to motivate and reinforce
- Satisfaction with family involvement and support.
5. Decision Making
Goal: Include parents in school decisions, developing parent
leaders and representatives.
Sample Best Practices
- Active PTA/PTO or other parent organizations, school
advisory councils, or committees (e.g., curriculum, safety, personnel,
and other committees) for parent leadership and participation.
- Independent advocacy groups to lobby and work for school
reform and improvements.
- District level councils and committees for family and
- Information on school or local elections for school
- Networks to link all families with parent representatives.
- Include parent leaders from all of racial, ethnic,
socioeconomic, and other groups in the school.
- Offering training to enable leaders to serve as
representatives of other parents, with input from and return of
information to all parents.
- Include students (along with parents) in decision making
- Awareness of representation of parents in school decisions.
- Understanding that students' rights are protected.
- Specific benefits linked to policies enacted by parent
organizations and experienced by students.
- Input into policies that affect child's education.
- Feeling of ownership of school.
- All-family awareness of parents' voices in school
- Shared experiences and connections with other families.
- Awareness of school, district, and state policies.
- Awareness of parent perspectives in policy development and
- View of equal status of family representatives on
committees and in leadership roles.
6. Collaborating with the
Goal: Identify and integrate resources and services from the
community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student
learning and development.
Sample Best Practices
- Information for students and families on community health,
cultural, recreational, social support, and other programs or services.
- Information on community activities that link to learning
skills and talents, including summer programs for students.
- Planned service integration of school in partnership with
businesses, civic, counseling, cultural, health, recreation, and other
agencies and organizations.
- Service to the community by students, families, and schools
(e.g., recycling, art, music, drama, and other activities for seniors
or others, etc.) Alumni to link to school programs for students.
- Solve turf problems of responsibilities, funds, staff, and
locations for collaborative activities.
- Inform families of community programs for students, such as
mentoring, tutoring, business partnerships, and other programs.
- Assure equity of opportunities for students and families to
participate in community programs or to obtain services.
- Match community contributions with school goals; integrate
child and family services with education.
- Increased skills and talents through enriched curricular
and curricular experiences.
- Awareness of careers, and options for future education and
- Pride in community, and in own service to the community.
- Specific benefits linked to programs, services, resources,
and opportunities that connect students with the community.
- Knowledge and use of local resources by family and child to
increase skills and talents, or obtain needed services.
- Family pride in and contributions to community.
- Interactions with other families in community activities.
- Awareness of school's role in the community, and community
support and contributions to the school.
- Awareness of community resources to enrich curriculum and
- Openness to and skill in using mentors, business partners,
community volunteers, and others to assist students and teaching
- Knowledgeable, helpful referrals of children and families
to needed services.
- Pride and participation in community.