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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,

Family involvement is a shared responsibility, consisting of three major dimensions: the opportunities that schools and communities offer parents and other family members to support and enrich their children’s learning; mutually agreed upon, or co-constructed, roles; and learning from personal experiences, peers, research, and other resources about how to engage families in children’s learning. In this issue, we apply our new, broader definition of family engagement to the ways in which families, communities, and schools work together to share responsibility for student learning.

Two new articles illustrate how co-constructed roles can work in practice: Voices from the field recounts the story of  a parent, school principal, and family advocate sharing responsibility for creating a solution to school problem, and our featured teaching case describes how a mother enlisted the help of a community organization to communicate with a school principal after her son was suspended.
In addition, we introduce a tool to help school districts and other organizations think through the development of systemic family engagement policies and programs. We also introduce a newly developed section of our website that houses all of Harvard Family Research Project’s policy-related work in one convenient location. And, as always, we provide a listing of new family involvement articles, news, and resources.

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.

Harvard Family Research Project Commentary

Family Engagement: A Shared Responsibility

Harvard Family Research Project’s M. Elena Lopez, Heidi Rosenberg, and Helen Westmoreland discuss how families, schools, and communities can create a mutual responsibility for children’s learning and academic success. The three dimensions of this approach include creating opportunities for family engagement, building co-constructed roles that outline families’ and schools’ responsibilities, and learning about effective ways to engage families in children’s learning.

Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

Seeing is Believing: Promising Practices for How School Districts Promote Family Engagement

First introduced in the August 2009 FINE newsletter, Seeing is Believing is a joint venture between Harvard Family Research Project and the National Parent-Teacher Association. It highlights innovative, systemic family engagement strategies in six school districts and proposes a set of recommendations for federal, state, and local policies to support family engagement in education.

Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

Family Engagement Policy Resources

We've recently added a new section to our website to inform stakeholders of our policy-related work in family engagement. This work seeks to promote the broader definition of family engagement that stresses shared responsibility and cross-context learning within a cradle-to-career approach to education. Visit our new policy page for more details, including our recent comments in the Federal Register regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund competitive grants program.

Tips & Tools From Harvard Family Research Project

How to Develop a Logic Model for Districtwide Family Engagement Strategies

This new tool from Harvard Family Research Project guides school districts to create a logic model that can aid in planning, implementing, assessing, and communicating about their systemic family engagement efforts. This tool clarifies the steps between family engagement efforts and better learning outcomes for children and youth. In addition, you can refer to a sample logic model based on promising practices used by the six school districts profiled in Seeing is Believing, as well as lessons learned from research and evaluation studies that shape the outcomes of family engagement.

Tips & Tools From Harvard Family Research Project

Featured Teaching Case: Suspension at Aurora Middle School

Preparing Educators to Involve Families: From Theory to Practice
Harvard Family Research Project’s Teaching Cases support teacher training and professional development by highlighting challenges that schools, families, and communities may encounter in supporting children’s learning. In this month’s newsletter, we feature Suspension at Aurora Middle School, which describes how a mother enlisted the help of a community organization to communicate with a school principal after her son was suspended.

Voices From the Field

Co-Constructing Family Engagement Roles in Federal Way, Washington

Through open communication and a mutual investment in solving a problem, one parent, school principal, and district-level family advocate helped bring about positive change in a middle school in Federal Way, Washington. Kelley O’Carroll and Angela Griffin write about the shared responsibility of co-constructing an effective solution and how this effort inspired a parent to advocate for the entire student body, not just her own child.

Family Involvement News

November 2009 News

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

Contact Us

If you experience a problem reading this newsletter or have questions and comments concerning our work, we would love to hear from you. Please send an email to


The FINE Team at Harvard Family Research Project

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