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A New Day: Family, School, and Community Engagement in Education Reform

June 30, 2010, 1:30-3:00 p.m. (EDT)  Click here to view an archive of the presentation.

We are approaching a new day where family engagement is not just a program, but a strategy used to improve student achievement and school performance, and where family engagement is seen as an innovation in and of itself. The Title I program, in particular, provides a key opportunity for innovations to emerge within family engagement to strengthen capacity and improve implementation.

Engaging families and communities in the education of children can be an innovative and effective practice for boosting student achievement and school success. Yet, until recently, family involvement has been overlooked as education reform has focused primarily on the learning that occurs within school walls. However, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s recent proposal to double the Title I set aside for family involvement from 1 to 2 percent has made it more important than ever to bring effective family engagement strategies to the forefront of the discussion about how to improve student achievement.

The Title I program provides an opportunity to be creative and innovative. Many promising practices in family engagement develop from the work of dedicated school staff and parent groups in Title I schools. While the first webinar in the Achieving Excellence series framed the discussion about family engagement as a systemic, integrated, sustainable practice to improve student performance, the second webinar—A New Day: Family, School, and Community Engagement in Education Reform—will examine what these innovative and successful family engagement programs look like on the ground, especially within Title I schools.

Presenters include:

  • Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Anna Hinton, Director, Parental Options and Information, Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education
  • Mishaela Durán, Director of Government Affairs, PTA National Office of Programs and Public Policy
  • Barbara Scherr, Family Involvement Coordinator, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Susan Shaffer, Director, Maryland State Parental Information and Resource Center
  • Michele Brooks, Assistant Superintendent of Family and Student Engagement, Boston Public Schools


  • Taking Leadership, Innovating Change: Profiles in Family, School, and Community Engagement
    This report from the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group contains twelve examples of leading innovations in family engagement as an integral and effective strategy in systemic education reform.

  • New Visions for Public Schools: Using Data to Engage Families
    This paper explores how high schools in New York City have begun to engage families in students’ academic success and college readiness by supporting parents in understanding achievement data. This case study makes clear that supporting parents in grasping and utilizing this information is a shared responsibility among schools, families, and students.

  • Creating Environments to Promote Innovation
    This commentary from the May 2010 Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) Newsletter presents a framework designed to help schools and organizations move beyond typical problem solving to discover new ways of thinking.

  • Open Innovation Portal
    The US Department of Education has recently developed a new innovation portal to create an online education community where individuals across school districts, states, and fields can come to connect, collaborate, and exchange ideas with colleagues and potential funders.  You can sign up and contribute your ideas at:

  • Design Thinking for Social Innovation
    In this article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the authors define the idea of “design thinking” as a way of strategically solving problems, especially for organizations serving public purposes. It examines how design thinking can be implemented in a variety of different social enterprises to bring about innovation. 

  • Innovation Toolkit from IDEO
    This free downloadable toolkit provides concrete ideas for organizations to find innovative solutions to meet the needs of various communities. The kit is divided into sections including how to bolster listening skills, run workshops and implement ideas.

  • The Education Innovator
    The US Department of Education now offers a monthly newsletter that provides subscribers with information about current events at the USDE's Office of Innovation and Improvement, and includes a section called “Innovation in the News,” which details the latest innovations in the education sector.

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