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FINE Newsletter, Volume I, Issue 2
Issue Topic: Family Involvement Policy

Voices From the Field

Jane Groff from the Kansas Parent Information Resource Center talks about how the endorsement of statewide family involvement standards by the Kansas State Board of Education has resulted in the development of a common vision for family involvement across state education systems and agencies.

The Kansas Parent Information Resource Center (KPIRC) has been an active player in helping build statewide capacity to support family involvement. One of the many ways that the KPIRC has used policy to support family involvement is by collaborating with the Kansas PTA to promote the endorsement of statewide standards for family involvement.

Since their endorsement by the Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) in 2008, these standards have played a critical role in ensuring that a wide range of partners share a common vision for family involvement in Kansas—from the organizations that support a child’s learning from birth through adolescence, to systems such as preservice teacher education.
Initially, the KSBE did not have a family involvement policy for all schools, although it had endorsed the standards previously established by the National PTA. Subsequently,  in January 2008, KPIRC and the Kansas PTA joined forces to present the National PTA’s newest standards for family and community engagement, known commonly as the “National Standards for Family–School Partnerships,” to the KSBE. The board voted unanimously to endorse these standards during this first meeting—a rare occurrence for any policy.

Since the endorsement of the standards, KPIRC's ongoing technical assistance  with the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) has led to the  incorporation of these standards into over 15 KSDE  documents, including School Improvement Plans and a new Quality Performance Accreditation manual. Most importantly, this process ensured that family involvement will remain linked to learning and that it will be seen as a core strategy for how schools do their work and hold themselves accountable.

Since their endorsement by KSBE, Kansas's family involvement standards have been the impetus for larger conversations about how to support family involvement across the various agencies and organizations that help young people thrive and succeed. For example, Kansas encourages parent involvement in early childhood by using recommendations from research. These recommendations are strongly linked to, and correlate with, the National Standards for Family School Partnerships.  To help build a consistent understanding of family involvement across historically siloed programs and funding streams, KPIRC also provides technical assistance to various agencies within KSDE, including the Title I and Migrant Education programs, as well as to organizations such as the Kansas Enrichment Network, which provides before and after school programming.

In addition to educating partners about the state's standards for family involvement, KPIRC is working to build an educational system that values family involvement, starting even before teachers enter the classroom. KPIRC has reached out to colleges and universities and offered a financial incentive and ongoing technical assistance to help them integrate family involvement into their teacher preparation curriculum. Currently, KPIRC provides both a family involvement toolkit and in-class instruction, which includes teaching about the state’s family involvement standards, to preservice teachers and teacher education programs. Today, KPIRC is in the process of evaluating the impact of these services in order to ensure that teachers enter the classroom with an understanding of the importance of family involvement, as well as strategies to promote it.

Over the past year, Kansas's statewide standards for family involvement, coupled with technical assistance offered by KPIRC to parents, educators, and partners, has helped create a comprehensive and aligned system to support family involvement across the state. Although this statewide synergy is still new, its success provides a promising perspective on how other states can support more efficient and coherent family involvement pathways.

This article is part of the May 2009 FINE Newsletter. The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family involvement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the FINE Newsletter Archive, visit

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