ACSA Affiliate Content

Family Engagement Toolkit

The Association of California School Administrators is the largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the United States, serving more than 17,000 California educators.

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1 Fa m i l y En g a g e m e n t To o l k i t INTRODUCTION Introduction The integral role of family engagement 1 in school improvement has been the focus of increased aention throughout the United States in recent years, perhaps more so than at any time since the 1960s when the importance of parental involvement was recognized in the original Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA), which was part of the War on Poverty legislation. Driving this more recent push has been the growing recognition, grounded in research, that effective family engagement can contribute to improved student outcomes and to closing persistent achievement gaps among students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds and family income levels. Moreover, experts advocate for family engagement as an essential strategy for building the pathway to college and career readiness for all students, as well as an essential component of a systems approach to school turnaround (Weiss, Lopez, Rosenberg, 2010; Center on School Turnaround, 2017). State and federal legislation reflects this increased aention. By 2013, 39 states and the District of Columbia had enacted laws calling for the implementation of family engage- ment policies (Mapp & Kuner, 2013). The 2015 reauthorization of ESEA, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), continues to emphasize family engagement as a necessary element for improving student outcomes. For example, Title I of ESSA continues to require parent and family engagement policies and programs (Section 1116); Title III requires local education agencies (LEAs) to strengthen parent, family, and community engagement in programs that serve English Learners (Section 3111 [b][2][D][iv]). As a result of all this, growing numbers of districts and schools around the country have been engaging families in creative and effective ways. Yet the authors' broad experience working closely with districts and schools throughout California suggests that many educators continue to struggle with the "how-to" of translating positive research findings about family engage- ment into effective and sustainable structures and practices — especially ones that embrace the full range of diverse families in their community. This toolkit was developed to help dis- tricts and schools by providing practical planning and evaluation tools that support efforts to engage all families, particularly those of underrepresented and underserved students. 1 The term "family engagement" is used in this toolkit for a number of reasons: to reflect the term used in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015; because the research and practice in the field has evolved from using "parent" to including the broader term "family"; and because "engagement" denotes a shared responsibility for designing and building a partnership between home and school.

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