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Innovation in Parent Engagement Among Public, Parochial, and Charter Schools

Parent engagement has never been the biggest part of Barr's K-12 grantmaking, but it has long been an important one. Read about a new effort that is helping a cohort of Boston district, charter, and parochial schools test and share new methods for engaging parents, and a new graduate-level program for the next generation of family engagement professionals.

Parent engagement has never been the biggest part of Barr’s K-12 grantmaking, but it has long been an important one. Numerous research studies have shown that family engagement markedly improves children’s’ success in school (consider this meta-analysis of 77 studies comprising over 300,000 students). Irrespective of race, ethnicity, or income, students with involved parents are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores and to perform well on many other measures. Yet, it remains the exceptional school that effectively engages all parents, especially working parents, low-income, and immigrant parents. In light of this challenge, in 2012, we provided a grant to the Aspire Institute at Wheelock College to launch the Boston Family Engagement Partnership.

In its first year, the Boston Family Engagement Partnership formed a cohort of ten Boston schools, including district, charter, and parochial schools. Participants worked together to develop and test new approaches to engaging parents, and to share their learning with each other and the field. Wheelock also created a graduate-level program designed to train the next generation of family engagement professionals and leaders in schools. One of the first fellows is Tabitha Rosien, a former teacher and current school administrator, who was featured in a terrific recent interview on the Aspire Institute blog, “The Aspire Wire”:

One of the things Tabitha describes is a series of focus groups with parents about what they value most in school-family engagement. Three themes emerged:

  1. The importance of consistent communication between school and home
  2. Families wanting education on how teachers are teaching
  3. A strong interest in more opportunities to build relationships with other families

Read the whole interview

Barr renewed its support for the Boston Family Engagement Partnership in 2013. We were pleased to be joined by The Lynch Foundation at that time.

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Wendy Puriefoy

Guest Author · Former Director of Education