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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Dear FINE Members,

In this issue of the FINE Newsletter, we explore how expanded learning, data use, and digital media are creating new roles for families to support student learning and development. As children and youth experience new forms of learning that are not confined to the classroom, families' opportunities for engagement become more varied and complex.

This issue's Commentary explores how an expanded notion of student learning has led to a renewed focus on the value of out-of-school time programs and educational technology for reshaping how, when, and where children learn. The Commentary explores changes in the ways that families engage with student learning as a result of these developments. We also discuss a national organization’s strategy of sharing student data with families in order to increase their understanding of school performance and to become informed advocates for change.

Voices from the Field features contributions from two people who are addressing these themes in their own work. Lori Takeuchi from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center discusses family perceptions of and engagement with digital media, including the social-environmental factors that shape how children and families use media as a learning tool. Nita Rudy from Parents for Public Schools discusses her organization’s efforts to help parents understand and use school-level data to advocate for school improvements that promote student learning.

Related HFRP resources include "Making Data Matter in Family Engagement," authored by Heather Weiss and M. Elena Lopez, which appears in the new Handbook on Family and Community Engagement; and the report Year-Round Learning: Linking School, Afterschool, and Summer Learning to Promote Student Success, authored by Sarah Deschenes and Helen Janc Malone. We also highlight the new Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit, a joint venture between HFRP and United Way Worldwide, which highlights using data to guide the development and implementation of family engagement for high school students.

And, as part of our ongoing commitment to showcasing leadership in the family engagement field, we feature a profile of Eric Dearing, Associate Professor at Boston College's Lynch School of Education, who calls on the field to make more investments in data and evaluation so that family engagement initiatives are informed by a solid body of evidence.

As always, we invite your feedback on the topics we explore in this FINE Newsletter and encourage you to pass on this issue to interested friends and colleagues. We've made it even easier to share FINE content with your social networks: Find the "share" button on the left of every page and send interesting articles via email or through other platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. And join the conversation about this issue on our Facebook page.

Harvard Family Research Project Commentary

New Learning Opportunities Mean New Opportunities for Engagement

Heidi Rosenberg
Today’s children and youth are increasingly exposed to new forms of learning beyond the classroom, especially in the form of out-of-school time programs and digital media. Developments in these areas have opened up new ways that families can become involved in their children’s education and development. In this Commentary, HFRP's Heidi Rosenberg and M. Elena Lopez discuss the new roles for families in supporting student learning.

Voices From the Field

Engaging Students and Families in a Digital Age: Lessons for Educators and Practitioners

Lori Takeuchi
Lori Takeuchi—Director of Research for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and author of the recent report Families Matter: Engaging Families in a Digital Age—discusses her research on how children use technology across the various settings of their lives, and the implications of her findings for practitioners who work with young children and their families.

Holding Schools Accountable: Using Data to Engage Parents in School Improvement Efforts

Nita Rudy Nita Rudy is a Program Director for the Mississippi Schoolhouse to Statehouse program developed by Parents for Public Schools, a national organization supporting community-based groups that work with parents to improve public schools. Nita shares her experience using data to engage families around school improvement efforts.

Emerging Leaders

More Than a Gut Feeling: The Real Value of Family and Community Engagement

Eric Dearing
Eric Dearing, Associate Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, discusses the need to use data-based evidence, rather than intuition, to create successful family and community engagement strategies.

Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

The Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit: Planning and Implementing an Initiative to Support the Pathway to Graduation for At-risk Students

The Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit is designed to support at-risk high school students by engaging families, schools, and the community. Created in a joint effort by United Way Worldwide and HFRP as part of the Family Engagement for High School Success initiative, the toolkit consists of two parts—Part 1: Planning, and Part 2: Implementation.


Making Data Matter in Family Engagement

HFRP’s Heather Weiss and M. Elena Lopez authored a chapter on using performance data to engage families in the Handbook on Family and Community Engagement, published by the Academic Development Institute and Center on Innovation & Improvement, and available on the website.

Year-Round Learning: Linking School, Afterschool, and Summer Learning to Support Student Success

There is growing national discussion about the need to create a more expansive definition of learning to include all the ways that youth can access educational opportunities—not just through the traditional school model, but also through afterschool activities, time spent with the family, and increasingly, through interaction with digital media. This brief introduces and analyzes one approach to expanded learning that provides students—often in distressed areas—with access to quality learning environments across the year.

Book Excerpt

Promising Practices for Family Engagement in Out-of-School Time

This excerpt from the new monograph, Promising Practices for Family Engagement in Out-of-School Time, highlights promising practices, benefits, and concerns related to family involvement in out-of-school time (OST). The excerpt is taken from a chapter written by former HFRP researchers Suzanne M. Bouffard, Kelley O’Carroll, Helen Westmoreland, and Priscilla M. Little.


Family Involvement News

December 2011 News

Father and daughter reading together We are committed to keeping you up to date on what's new in family involvement.  View our list of links to current reports, articles, resources, and events in the family involvement field. 

Contact Us

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The FINE Team at Harvard Family Research Project

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project