top of page
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

Strong, meaningful and ongoing communication and collaboration between families, teachers and staff.

What is High-Impact Family Engagement?

High-impact family engagement in public schools is characterized by strong, meaningful and ongoing communication and collaboration between families, teachers and staff. This type of engagement typically includes opportunities for families to have a voice in program decisions, participate in educational activities with their children and support their learning at home. Examples of high-impact family engagement activities include Parent-Teacher Home Visits, Community Cafés, and Build Days.

Moderate-impact family engagement in public schools is characterized by regular communication between families and staff, but with less emphasis on families having a voice in decision-making. Examples of moderate-impact family engagement activities include Back to School Night, Family Night, and Parent-Teacher Conferences.

Project Appleseed's Six Slices of Family Engagement

Low-impact family engagement in public schools is characterized by limited or one-way communication between families and staff. Examples of low-impact family engagement activities include program newsletters with generic messaging, and invitation-only family events.

High impact family engagement in education has some common characteristics across all levels, including:

  1. Active involvement: families are actively engaged in their child's education through regular communication with teachers, participating in school events, and volunteering.

  2. Two-way communication: there is open and ongoing communication between families and schools, with families being informed and involved in decisions affecting their child's education.

  3. Relevance: families understand the importance of their child's education and the relevance of their involvement in it.

  4. Personalized support: families receive individualized support and guidance based on their child's needs and interests.

  5. Collaboration: schools and families work together to set goals and work towards common objectives, recognizing each other's strengths and contributions.

  6. Cultural responsiveness: schools and families recognize and respect cultural diversity and are inclusive of all families.

  7. Access to resources: families have access to resources and support, such as technology, materials, and information, to support their child's learning and development.


However, each level of education may have its own unique characteristics that reflect the developmental needs and goals of students at that stage:

  • Elementary school: a focus on early childhood development is often emphasized, with families being supported in their role as their child's first and most important teacher.

  • Middle school: a focus on helping students transition from childhood to adolescence, with a focus on academic preparation and social-emotional development.

  • High school: a focus on preparing students for post-secondary education or the workforce, with a focus on college and career readiness.

Elementary Schools

High impact family engagement in elementary school typically includes the following activities such as:

  • Back to School Night class meetings where parents and teachers share learning strategies and review key skills for students

  • Regular two-way communication through calls/texts/emails to share progress and tips

  • A staffed family center with workshops on learning strategies, referrals to social services and informal gatherings

  • Relationship-building home visits by teachers, available for all families

  • Story quilting workshops and poetry slams where parents, teachers and students share their stories and work

  • Classroom observations with mini-lessons and weekly data-sharing folders going home with space for parent comments

  • Student-led conferences with portfolios of student work, followed by 1:1 conversations about learning and goal-setting

  • Tours of the school led by students and community walks led by parents and custodians

  • School council having a voice in major decisions and supporting parent-initiated projects

  • Candidate forums at Fun Fair where parents and students meet and ask questions about issues affecting families

  • Parent leadership classes to help strengthen family capacity in navigating the system and being effective advocates.


Moderate Impact family engagement includes activities such as:

  • Open House with parents touring the school and chatting with teachers, classroom visits, exhibits of student work

  • Positive personal phone calls home, parent resource room with toys, games and books to borrow

  • Coffee with the principal, muffins for moms, donuts with dads, school book club, authors' tea featuring student writers

  • Interactive homework with tips for home learning, twice-a-year parent-teacher conferences available evenings and weekends

  • Monthly breakfasts for new families, parent organization meetings with the principal to discuss suggestions, candidates for election invited to Fun Fair

  • Adult learning evenings


Lower Impact family engagement includes activities such as:

  • Back to School night in the auditorium with a panel of speakers and distribution of student handbooks and school calendars

  • Robocalls about school events, generic school newsletters

  • Potlucks and other traditional whole-school events, student performances, curriculum nights, parent-teacher conferences during workday

  • Visiting school by appointment, suggestion box in the office, fall Fun Fair, parenting classes.

Project Appleseed Workshop

​What are three essential aspects of​ parent engagement? 

Connect, engage and sustain.

Middle and High School

High Impact Family Engagement in Middle and High Schools:

  • Offers a comprehensive transition program to incoming families, including events at feeder schools, tours of new school, and a 4-week High School preparation summer course.

  • Provides workshops for families on what high-level academic work looks like at each grade level, how to get help for their students, and the tests, applications, and timelines required for college.

  • Establishes an Advisory System, where each student has an adult advisor who develops close relationships with families to co-design the student's academic program and serve as the main contact.

  • Monitors student progress regularly, with focus on students at risk. Parents are invited to exhibits of student work and reminded to check classroom websites.

  • Begins college and career planning early, with a graduation plan done by the end of 9th grade. Offers workshops for parents on exams, college applications, and financial aid.

  • Has a strong parent organization and leadership that represents all families in the school and participates in college pathways and school leadership teams.


Moderate Impact Family Engagement in Middle and High Schools:

  • Offers a Fall Family Academy to orient incoming families to the expectations of students, such as attendance requirements and credits needed for graduation.

  • Conducts staff trainings for families to help them understand how to navigate the requirements of high school.

  • Has parent liaisons who check in with parents about the use of homework help and other resources for students.

  • Offers a homework help and mentoring program to ensure families know about and can access academic help for their student.

  • Holds a College/Technical Program fair every fall, with a focus on 11th and 12th graders.

  • Has parent liaisons and community partners who reach out to invite families and remind them to review the Student Success Plan for their child.


Low Impact Family Engagement in Middle and High Schools:

  • Has an orientation for incoming families, where parents can pick up their students’ class schedules and bus passes and tour the school.

  • Provides information sheets about school programs and college resources available in the school office.

  • Notifies parents of any student issues with academics or behavior.

  • Allows parents to make appointments to confer with guidance counselors and receive a handout with information about the Student Success Plan.

  • Uses AmeriCorps volunteers to distribute flyers throughout the community to remind parents about events and parent-teacher conferences.

Here is the best resource high-impact family engagement at the elementary, middle, and high school levels:

  1. Connecticut StateDepartment of Education, Full, Equal and Equitable Partnerships with Families: What Does High Impact Family Engagement Look Like?

  2. Colorado Department of Education, "High Impact Family Engagement Strategies",


bottom of page