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Sheri DeBoe Johnson from the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) discusses the PTA’s newly revised National Standards for Family–School Partnerships.

Promoting and supporting parent involvement in the education of all children has been a priority of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at the local, state, national, and international levels for more than 100 years. Throughout its history, PTA has been both an activist and an advocate for children, creating opportunities for parents to connect with each other and with their local schools, while also leading the discussions and influencing the national policies that affect the educational success and healthy development of our youth.

Developing the Standards
Building off the organization’s reputation as a leading voice for parent participation in student learning, in 1997 PTA enlisted the support of over 100 education, health, and family-strengthening organizations to develop the National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs. Supported by over 20 years of research and stories of success from schools across the country, the Standards were developed to serve as an organizing framework for creating programs that promoted and strengthened family involvement in schools.

PTA's National Standards for Family–School Partnerships

Welcoming all families into the school community. Families are active participants in the life of the school and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.

Communicating effectively. Families and school staff engage in regular, meaningful communication about student learning.

Supporting student success. Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.

Speaking up for every child. Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children to ensure that children are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.

Sharing power. Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.

Collaborating with community. Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.

By using the Standards as both a unifying message and a tool, PTA leveraged its presence in all 50 states at the local, district, state, and national levels to demonstrate that, when parents and schools work together, children do better in school.

The impact of the Standards has been phenomenal. Since their inception, thousands of local and state PTAs have used the Standards to advocate for the adoption of parent involvement policies in their schools, districts, and state offices of education; some states have even incorporated the Standards into legislation.

Revising the Standards
In 2006 PTA determined that the Standards should be updated to more intentionally reflect the ongoing research that demonstrates the importance of connecting family and community engagement to student learning. As a first step, we determined that the Standards should be positioned as the foundation for all PTA programs. Working with leading experts in parent involvement and community engagement in schools, staff used research findings and practice to guide the update of the Standards. This months-long process included many opportunities for input and feedback from PTA leadership and partners from other national organizations.

In June 2007, at its national convention, PTA introduced the new Standards, which now expand the focus from what schools should do to involve parents to what parents, schools, and communities can do together to support student success. To reflect this shift in focus, the standards have been renamed the National Standards for Family–School Partnerships.

While the Standards provide an organizing framework for strengthening family–school partnerships to support student learning, the critical next step is to establish indicators by which the partnership can measure whether they are living up to the Standards. To that end, PTA has begun identifying indicators of success for each standard. These indicators are intended to be a guide for continuous improvement, rather than a checklist representing the maximum effort required to achieve complete adherence to the Standards. PTA believes these standards and indicators have the potential not only to impact how family–school partnerships plan their programs, but also to influence how PTA leadership engage schools and other organizations in order to influence policies and practices that support family and community involvement in education.

Sheri DeBoe Johnson
Director of Programs
National PTA
1400 L St., NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202-289-6790, ext 212

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