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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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FINE Newsletter, Volume IV, Issue 2
Issue Topic: Family–Afterschool Partnerships for Learning

Family Involvement News

We at Harvard Family Research Project are committed to keeping you up to date on what's new in family engagement. 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.




Policy Announcements

Policy Analysis and Implications  

  • Title I and Parent Involvement: Lessons from the Past, Recommendations for the Future
    As Congress debates the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), report author Karen Mapp, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, recommends changes to the law that could help schools and districts more effectively use Title I funds to develop systemic efforts to increase family engagement in low-income schools. 
  • Parental Engagement Proves No Easy Goal
    This article from Education Week explores the mandates on Title I spending at the district and school level related to parental engagement efforts. The article examines issues at these levels with respect to implementing family engagement initiatives and offers creative engagement strategies.
  • Hopes and Fears for Parent Trigger Laws
    In this piece from The New York Times, six experts debate the merits of “parent trigger” legislation and its potential implications for parent engagement and public education.
  • Try Parent Visits, Not Parent Takeovers of Schools
    This Washington Post column describes the contrasting attention given to two initiatives: parent trigger laws and home visits by teachers. The author describes several home visit programs and their benefits to family and student engagement, while pointing out some of the limitations of parent trigger laws.

Early Childhood—Practices

  • Tweet, Tweet, Go the Kindergartners
    This article and short video from The New York Times profile the work of a Manhattan teacher who uses the short format of Twitter to keep families engaged in their children’s education. Kindergarteners summarize reflections on their daily lessons in order to share their ideas with family members who subscribe to the Twitter feed.
  • Study: Playing With Your Toddler Can Boost Academic Success
    This blog post from Education Week presents the findings of a 15-year study, completed last year, which traced the long-term academic impact of mothers’ and fathers’ play with their toddlers. The article briefly describes the types of parent–child activities that were linked to long-term academic achievement.
  • Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8
    This joint position statement, from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College, presents educators with research-based suggestions for incorporating technology into their instruction. Written for educators of children aged 0–8, the report also offers considerations regarding appropriate uses of technology and digital media at different developmental stages.

Teacher Surveys and Guidance

  • The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy
    Last year’s (2011) annual MetLife Teacher Survey included a focus on parent and community engagement; the survey reports increased parent involvement in schools. It includes findings from parent, student, and teacher surveys about the teaching profession and the effects of economic changes.
  • Is Parent Involvement the Missing Link in School Reform?
    This blog post from Education Week provides a “roundup” of personal insights from educators and school leaders related to results from two recent surveys, Primary Sources: 2012 and the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, which highlight the importance of family engagement. The contributors share their own practices for engaging families and offer suggestions for preparing teachers and families to work together to improve student outcomes. 
  • Response: Ways To Build Trust Between Parents & Teachers—Part One
    In this three-part series in Education Week, blogger Larry Ferlazzo presents responses to a reader’s question about how teachers can build trust with parents. Through the responses of Ferlazzo and of guest writers from the field, the series addresses key hurdles for many schools attempting to make the transition from surface-level family involvement to deeper family engagement.
  • Parent Advocacy and Training   'Parent Unions' Seek to Join Policy Debates
    This article from Education Week examines the growth of parent unions, groups in several states that work to gain influence over policy matters impacting their children’s education. The article describes the growing interest in parent unions, as well as the challenges facing some of these unions seeking to expand their influence through partnership with community organizations.
  • Bridgeport Community Association to Teach Parents Advocacy
    This blog post from Education Week describes a new program in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which is training parents to advocate on behalf of their children. Run by the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, the program encourages parental engagement in multiple areas, from school board meetings to children’s classrooms, by helping families tell their stories and develop a sense of efficacy.
  • Phoenix-area Parents Join Kid Health Program
    This article from The Arizona Republic describes a Maricopa County Department of Public Health pilot program that trains parents to advocate for healthier school policies. Parent ambassadors, already involved in their children’s schools, learn about public health principles so that they can better advocate for healthy options at their children’s schools. 


  • Parents' Guide to Student Success
    These guides from the national PTA provide parents with tips and resources to help them understand expected student outcomes at each grade level. The guides also recommend activities that families can do at home with their children to help them develop key literacy and math skills. Available in English and Spanish, these publications are for families of students in kindergarten through high school.
  • Family–School–Community Partnerships 2.0: Collaborative Strategies to Advance Student Learning
    This report from the National Education Association (NEA) provides a synthesis of current research on best practices in school, family, and community partnerships. The report is presented in two parts, with the first detailing key strategies for developing family and community engagement, and the second profiling 16 organizations identified as exemplary for their work in the field. 
  • A Parent's Guide to 21st-Century Learning
    This resource from Edutopia provides families with ideas about how to get involved in and extend student learning beyond the classroom. The guide highlights programs—many of which include digital or online components—that teachers are using with elementary, middle, and high school students to develop 21st century skills and provides tips for parents about making connections at home. This guide also provides ideas for educators looking to incorporate 21st century skills into their curriculum in innovative ways. 
  • Family Engagement Framework: A Tool for California School Districts
    Designed for California schools and districts, this toolkit from WestEd is an example of a state-level guide for implementing family engagement strategies. It includes a framework, a review of research linking family engagement to student achievement, and a description of relevant state and federal requirements. 

This resource is part of the June 2012 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 archive of past issues, please visit

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