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FINE Newsletter, Volume III, Issue 2
Issue Topic: Emerging Leaders in Family Engagement

Family Involvement News

We at Harvard Family Research Project are committed to keeping you up to date on what's new in family involvement. This list of links to current reports, articles, events, and opportunities will help you stay on top of research and resources from HFRP and other field leaders.

New from Harvard Family Research Project

  • Webinar 5: Building Strategic Partnerships to Foster Community Engagement in Education
    In this installment in the Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement webinar series, presenters examined practical examples of how to build successful strategic partnerships that foster community engagement.  Strategies discussed included how to select the organizations, people, and services to be involved; how to structure communications to ensure ongoing collaboration; and how to build connections with families and schools. An archive of the webinar presentation, resources related to community engagement, and presentation slides are all available for download.
  • Webinar 6: Ensuring School Readiness Through Successful Transitions
    This installment in the Achieving Excellence webinar series focused on what it takes to foster continuity as children move from early learning programs to preschool to kindergarten, and discussed the specific roles of early learning programs, schools, and families in preparing young children to enter school ready for success.  An archive of the webinar presentation, resources related to early childhood transitions, and presentation slides are all available for download.

Articles and Reports

  • Mobilizing Communities is Reform’s Missing Link
    In this Education Week commentary, Hugh B. Price writes that today’s efforts to improve student performance are concentrated in schools and school systems, overlooking the “need for communities to create a culture of achievement and encourage youngsters to learn.” Drawing on his experience heading the National Urban League, Price describes several ideas for communities to mobilize in order to encourage, reward, and raise achievement.
  • Promoting Parent and Family Engagement in Education
    This 2-page brief provides an overview of family engagement policy at the federal, state, district, and school levels. It describes elements of successful family engagement based on research and the role of PIRCs in supporting parental involvement.
  • New Study on Parenting Practices and Children’s Behavior in School
    This post in the Early Ed Watch blog summarizes findings from a new study conducted by the NYU Child Study Center about ParentCorps, a parenting workshop program. The ParentCorps workshops focus on effective parenting practices, allow for open discussion of families’ culture and experiences, and have parents set goals for their children and discuss strategies for achieving those goals. The study found that the workshops helped improve children’s behavior in school, boosted parents’ knowledge and use of effective parenting practices, and got parents to be more engaged their child’s education.
  • Parents’ Guide to Student Success
    Created by teachers, parents, education experts, and others, this National PTA guide provides information on Common Core State Standards for parents. The guide includes key items children should be learning, activities that parents can do at home to support their child’s learning, and methods for helping parents build stronger relationships with their child’s teacher. Guides are available for each grade in K–8, as well as for high school English and high school math. All guides are available in both English and Spanish.
  • What Works for African American Children and Adolescents and What Works for Latino/Hispanic Children and Adolescents
    These two facts sheets from Child Trends synthesize experimental evaluations of programs and interventions that target African American and Latino/Hispanic children and adolescents. Both reviews found that programs that engage families tend to be more successful.
  • Districts Use Web Polls to Survey Parents on Hot Topics
    Several districts have begun to use online surveys to reach parents and families to get efficient responses on important decisions. This Education Week article points out that while the method certainly will not replace face-to-face meetings, it can be a valuable additional tool for communicating with families and community members.
  • When Asking Your School Tough Questions
    In this guest post to the Rick Hess Straight Up blog on, Greg Gunn writes about the challenges parents face in asking schools tough questions about their children’s learning and performance. With the proliferation of data in schools, parents need help overcoming their fears about asking questions to make sense of this data, and they need support to know the right questions to ask. Gunn offers some questions that parents should feel empowered to ask.
  • What “Star Wars” Can Teach Educators About Parent Engagement
    Larry Ferlazzo writes in this Education Week Teacher Leaders Network column that teachers should keep in mind the “Princess Leia” approach to parent–teacher conversations—that is, “L” for listening, “E” for empathy, “I” for imagining, and “A” for asking. He writes that adopting this stance can help teachers develop genuine parent engagement.
  • Holding on to Parent Voices
    This article, published in District Administration, describes challenges that PIRCs face from the Obama administration’s Blueprint for Reform. Advocates of parent involvement push back on potential legislative changes that might undermine PIRC efforts to engage families.
  • Bush Institute to Target Middle Schools in New Education Initiative
    The George W. Bush Institute recently launched a new initiative, “Middle School Matters,” in Houston. The initiative takes a holistic approach and focuses on 11 elements for success, which include school leadership; reading interventions; effective teachers; dropout prevention; and school, student, family, and community support.
  • Parent Involvement in Virtual Education
    As the use of online learning grows, questions are being raised about the level of parental involvement required for e-learning to be successful. This article in Education Week examines the role of parents in facilitating their children’s learning in virtual schools, and whether or not full-time e-learning is a viable option for students whose parents work outside the home. Because parents must provide extra support and supervision, experts agree that online learning is most successful when parents are able to be involved.

Other Resources

  • Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators
    This new toolkit, created by the design firm IDEO, applies the "design thinking" framework (a concept previously discussed in this May 2010 FINE commentary) to the context of K–12 education. Building on IDEO's existing work in innovation, this toolkit helps educators use the design process in the classroom and school. The toolkit offers a variety of instructional methods to choose from throughout the five phases of the process: discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, and evolution.
  • Early Ed Online Forum
    The Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation is hosting an online discussion for conversations on various topics related to early childhood education. Topics include family and community; funding and partnerships; teachers and administrators; standards, curriculum, and assessment; and data collection and use.
  • MetLife and Afterschool Alliance Innovator Awards
    The Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation are developing a series of issue briefs on topics related to middle school youth and afterschool programs. Nominations for programs to receive a MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award and to be highlighted in one of the issue briefs will be accepted until May 31, 2011.


  • National PTA Convention
    The 115th Annual National PTA Convention and Exhibition will take place from June 9–12, 2011, in Orlando, Florida. Join parents, teachers, students, and leaders to participate in workshops, visit exhibits, discuss emerging issues, share and gather resources, and build connections.
  • Healthy Teen Network 2011 Conference
    Bridging the Gender Divide: Toward a Balanced Approach to Promoting Healthy Youth and Young Families will take place from October 11–14, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This article is part of the May 2011 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

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