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Family Enagement

Does your school

do a good job

of reaching out

to parents and families? 

Family Engagement Checklist

The old Parental Involvement Checklist has been updated and revised to reflect the most recent National PTA Standards, which serve as the foundation for Project Appleseed's Six Slices of Family Engagement. This popular tool is designed to evaluate and improve the partnerships between families and the school. The following questions will assist in assessing current practices and identifying areas for improvement:

  • What partnership practices are currently working well at each grade level?

  • What practices need to be improved or added in each grade?

  • What are your goals for family involvement practices in the next three years?

  • Which current practices should be continued and which should be changed?

  • Which families are currently being reached and which are difficult to engage?

  • What steps can be taken to improve communication with hard-to-reach families?

  • What are the potential costs associated with the desired improvements?

  • How will you measure the success of your efforts?

By following this checklist and addressing each point, the school, PTA/PTO and the families can work together to improve family engagement and student success. Each slice in the checklist is designed to measure progress, identify areas for improvement and make sure the efforts are sustainable and inclusive.

The Six Slices of Family Engagement

1. Welcome All Families      2. Communicate Effectively     3. Support Student Success

4. Speak Up for Every Child      5. Share Power          6. Collaborating with the Community

Family Engagement Parent Involvement

Slice 1. Welcome All Families

GOAL 1. Build a Community of Belonging:

  • When families engage with the school and PTA/PTO, do they feel respected, understood and connected to the school community?

    • Employ the Red Carpet Treatment tool, the ultimate solution for schools looking to improve family engagement. Our comprehensive walk-through process guides schools in creating a welcoming environment for all families.

    • Use National Parental Involvement Day and Public School Volunteer Week to ask families to take the Parent Engagement Pledge as a way to build a community of belonging and ensure that families feel respected, understood and connected to the school community

    • Learn about families and foster respectful attitudes

    • Provide time, training, and resources for relationship-building

    • Facilitate opportunities for restoration and connection, especially with historically marginalized families and students

    • Use culturally and linguistically responsive engagement practices

    • Invite families to contribute to the school community

GOAL  2. Create an Inclusive Environment:

  • Do the school’s and PTA/PTO's efforts encourage engagement with and among the diversity of families in the community?

    • Encourage school staff to see engaging all families as part of their responsibilities

    • Create an accessible, family-friendly campus and/or virtual school

    • Track family engagement data and regularly examine it to identify gaps in access

    • Learn about and remove barriers for families to participate fully

    • Family engagement activities can help to increase the overall level of involvement among diverse families. 

Family Engagement Parent Involvement

Slice 2. Communicate Effectively

GOAL 1. Exchange Information Between School and Families:

  • Are families able to receive and share information in culturally and linguistically sustaining ways?

    • Family engagement activities can help to improve communication between schools and families, which is crucial for ensuring that students have the support they need to succeed

    • Learn about and meet families’ communication preferences

    • Address access by providing interpretation, translation, and/or accommodations

    • Coordinate information-sharing across communication outlets

    • Gather family input and report back with how input was used

    • Foster transparency and enable families to follow-up

    • Co-create engagement plans for times of crisis

GOAL 2. Facilitate Parent-Teacher Communication:

Family Engagement Parent Involvement

Slice 3. Support Student Success

GOAL 1. Team-Up For Student Success:

  • Are families, students, and educators on the same page about how students are progressing?

    • The Parent Engagement Pledge can serve as a commitment from the school, PTA/PTO, and families to work together to improve family engagement and student success.

    • Support educators to partner with families and students to set social, emotional, and academic goals

    • Provide an understandable and accurate picture of student progress, using multiple measures (classwork, rubrics, observations, assessments, etc.)

    • Ensure accessible, regular, two-way communication about student learning and well-being

GOAL 2. Support Learning by Engaging Families:

  • Are families valued partners in their children’s education and provided with resources and support to enhance their children’s academic, social, and emotional learning?

    • Involve families in goal setting, monitoring progress, and celebrating success

    • Provide opportunities for families to volunteer and participate in school decision-making by asking parents to take the Parent Engagement Pledge

    • Offer family workshops and training on various topics related to student success

    • Provide resources and support for families to assist with student learning at home

    • The Parent Engagement Report Card can also be used as a way for families to provide feedback on the school's family engagement efforts. The school can use the feedback to identify areas for improvement and make changes to better support families and improve student success.

GOAL 3. Essential aspects of parent engagement: Connect, engage and sustain.

  • Connect with families to build relationships and trust

  • Engage families in meaningful ways in their child's education

  • Sustain engagement over time through ongoing communication, opportunities for involvement and support.

GOAL 4. Family Engagement Professional Development:

Family Engagement Parent Involvement

Slice 4. Speak Up for Every Child

GOAL 1. Navigate the School System:

  • Are families knowledgeable and able to raise questions or concerns about their child’s educational experience?

    • Build school staffs’ skills to build trust and problem-solve with students and families

    • Make it easy to understand how the school and district operate

    • Comply with families’ rights under federal and state laws

    • Connect families to resources that address their questions or concerns

    • Make school staff and families aware of conflict resolution processes and apply them fairly

GOAL 2. Address inequitable outcomes and access.

  • Does the school and PTA/PTO remove barriers for families to be advocates for and with students—particularly those who are most marginalized?

    • Encourage community and leadership among historically under-represented groups

    • Share understandable, disaggregated data on school progress and practices

    • Recognize and work to eliminate bias in family engagement practices and policies

Family Engagement Parent Involvement

Slice 5. Share Power

GOAL 1. Strengthen the Family’s Voice in Shared Decision Making:

  • Are families partners in making decisions that affect their children at school and in the community?

    • Transparently and accessibly communicate about decision-making processes

    • Build shared knowledge about decisions that affect children

    • Give families and students voice in decisions that affect children

    • Identify and remedy power imbalances

    • Track data and fill gaps for representative input and power in decisions

GOAL 2. Build Families’ Connections:

  • Do families have a strong, broad-based organization that offers regular opportunities to develop relationships and raise concerns with school leaders, public officials, and business and community leaders?

    • Connect families to local officials

    • Foster student and family leadership and civic engagement

    • Support the development of an effective family/parent organization that represents all families

Project Appleseed

Slice 6. Collaborating with the Community

GOAL 1. Build a Strong Foundation for Community Partnerships:

  • Does the school and PTA/PTO have a plan for when and how to engage community partners?

    • Map community needs and assets

    • Align partnerships to school improvement planning

    • Work with partners to clarify roles and responsibilities

    • Establish a Parent Engagement Pledge and Report Card, as well as a way to evaluate the effectiveness of the family engagement efforts.

GOAL 2. Connect the School with Community Partners:

  • Do family and school leaders work closely with community organizations, businesses, and institutions of higher education?

    • Family engagement activities can help to create a sense of community within a school, which can lead to a more positive and supportive learning environment for students.

    • Use National Parental Involvement Day and Public School Volunteer Week to collaborate with local organizations to provide students and families with expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.

    • Understand issues affecting the community and contribute to community-wide solutions

    • Address student and family basic needs through community resources

    • Build staffs’ cultural competence through community partnerships

    • Act as a hub of community life

Updated National PTA Standards Designed for Multiple Audiences

1. Welcome All Families
2. Communicate Effectively
3. Support Student Success
4. Speak Up for Every Child
5. Share Power
Slice 6. Collaborating with the Community
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