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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 III, Issue 1
Issue Topic: Preparing Teachers for 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

  • Early Childhood Education Resources
    Connected to our work with the newly formed Office of Head Start National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (NCPFCE), Harvard Family Research Project has developed an Early Childhood Education webpage to complement our Family Involvement work.  This page highlights key early childhood resources from our archives, as well as new work developed with our partners at NCPFCE, and will continue to grow as our work with the Center continues.
  • Breaking New Ground: Data Systems Transform Family Engagement in Education
    HFRP and the National PTA have teamed up for the second issue in our series of policy briefs. Breaking New Ground cites six case studies from across the country that reveal innovative efforts by early childhood programs and school districts to use student data systems to improve family engagement. Each profile illustrates a segment of a data pathway beginning in early childhood and continuing throughout students' academic careers. The brief also includes a set of policy recommendations to help support the current trends in education that focus on twenty-first century learning and the vital role of technology.
  • Beyond Random Acts: Family, School, and Community Engagement as an Integral Part of Education Reform
    This paper, authored by Harvard Family Research Project, served as the foundation for panelists’ discussions at the National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement. Beyond Random Acts provides a research-based framing of family engagement; examines the policy levers that can drive change in promoting systemic family, school, and community engagement; and focuses on data systems as a powerful tool to engage families for twenty-first century student learning. Because education reform will succeed only when all students are prepared for the demands of the twenty-first century, the paper also examines the role of families in transforming low-performing schools.

Articles and Reports

  • Building Local Leadership for Change: A National Scan of Parent Leadership Training Programs
    In this report, published by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Anne Henderson examines four parent leadership training programs from around the country that have found positive outcomes. Each program has a different focus, including developing leadership structures, supporting immigrant families, supporting children’s learning, and understanding and navigating the school system.
  • Working Systematically in Action: Engaging Family and Community
    This new resource from SEDL provides real-life examples and practical guidance to help educators successfully engage family and community members in schools. The report takes a systemic approach to school improvement. It includes research on family and community engagement, an explanation of family and community engagement and practice, practical guidance through suggested actions, and tools for systemic improvement. A free PDF version is available online.
  • Working Together to Build a Birth-to-College Approach to Education: A Teaching Case Study (PDF)
    This case study describes the partnership between the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute and the Ounce of Prevention Fund. The goal of the partnership is to collaboratively create and align practices and supports that prepare children for college, beginning at birth. Both organizations share a deep commitment to families and decided to put families first as one of the goals of their partnership.
  • Baltimore’s Urbanite Magazine Features the Challenges and Opportunities that Today’s Families Face
    In the November issue of Baltimore’s Urbanite magazine, writers and contributors discuss the changes and dynamics of modern families in an “age of upheaval.” As family structures change alongside cultural and economic shifts, educators must adapt to successfully respond to changing family needs. Featured articles include “Family of One,” an interview with sociology professor Kris Marsh on the changing family structure in the black middle class; “Finding a Home,” the story of Casey Family Services and their efforts to help pregnant and parenting teens find foster homes; and “The Ties that Bind,” which profiles local families and reveals the diversity of modern family structures through photography.
  • When Youth Own the Public Education Agenda
    In this blog post on HuffingtonPost, Mimi Ito writes about what it would take to align the culture of “youth-driven social engagement and sharing” with the culture that is “embodied in education institutions’ adult-driven agendas.” She profiles the YouMedia space at the Chicago Public Library, which innovatively blends the traditional goals of education with the digital media environment that teenagers are engaged in. By building on the social networking, online gaming, and other new media that students are familiar with, YouMedia encourages learning “that begins with youth agency and voice, is socially connected, tailored to individual interests, and highly engaged.”
  • Breaking Ranks in the Middle: Strategies for Leading Middle Level Reform (PDF)
    This executive summary of a report by the National Association of Secondary School Principals provides strategies and recommendations for leaders at the middle school level. One such strategy is to actively involve students, teachers, family members, and the community in the decision-making process and while supporting effective communication among these groups. The report encourages principals and leaders to consider collaborations with parents as an important part of their work at schools.
  • Home Computers and Student Achievement
    This commentary in Education Week looks at how computers can be effectively used to promote a home learning environment conducive to academic achievement. According to the authors, in order for technology in the home to be effective, it needs to be complemented by content and context. Teachers and parents need to be trained to give students the support to explore the content available through technology. Technology can create a positive home learning environment only when it is accompanied by the necessary supports for families.
  • Family Engagement is Cost Effective
    In response to Secretary Duncan’s call to “do more with less,” the National Journal’s Education Experts blog posed a question to education experts: “What’s the plan?” National PTA President Charles J. “Chuck” Saylors responds that he views family engagement as a cost-effective strategy to build on an existing school resource: parents. According to Saylors, “We can’t do more with less until we make family engagement a cornerstone in school reform. In tough fiscal times, bringing more parents into school communities is one step in putting our existing resources to better use for all of our kids.”
  • How Parent-Friendly is Your Campus?
    This post on Education Week’s Leader Talk blog poses a series of questions for schools to assess how “parent-friendly” their school campus is. According to the author, a parent-friendly campus visibly and actively welcomes parents and encourages parents to become part of the learning environment. The foundations for strong parent relationships are accessibility and hospitality.
  • Top 10 Responsibilities of Teachers, Families, and Students for Student Success
    Middle school teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron writes via three separate blogs about the top 10 responsibilities that teachers, families, and students must take on in order to ensure student success. According to the author, the vital equation is Family + Student + School + Policymakers/Voters = Student Success. Each variable relies on the others, and all are necessary for students to succeed.
  • Pointless Finger-Pointing at Parents
    This this op-ed by Anne Foster asserts that parents are the newest victim of blame for school failure. She writes that blaming parents for failure in education is untenable and that instead, we should be “helping them and training them to hold their schools accountable for their children's education.” Schools, parents, and the larger community need to work together in order for schools to succeed.
  • Home–School Differences: What it Means for Kindergarten Readiness (PDF)
    This brief examines how the differences between parent and teacher practices and beliefs in child-rearing and socialization in pre-K affects school readiness. One finding is that children gained greater skills when their teachers and parents both demonstrated “low control” and “high support” during interactions. The authors conclude that, given that home–school differences do exist, teachers need to be trained and supported in negotiating respectful relationships with parents whose beliefs and practices may differ from their own.
  • Small Doses of Education Can Make a Big Difference for Parents with Sick Children
    The UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Institute is coordinating trainings for parents to teach them basic medical skills. Previously only available through Head Start programs, the trainings are now expanding to school districts. According to this L.A. Times article, the trainers hope that the sessions will reduce missed school days and ER visits.
  • A Cross-Country Exploration of Math-Related Learning in the United States, England, and Singapore: Parent Perceptions and Practices (PDF)
    A new study sponsored by Raytheon compares the perceptions and practices of parents in the United States, Singapore, and England when it comes to middle school math. The study found that parents in Singapore are more likely than those in the U.S. and England to engage a tutor or seek assistance from teachers to help their child. The study concludes that as the need for STEM expertise increases, parents need to be more involved and engaged in students’ education to achieve high performance in middle school math.
  • Parental Expectations for Children’s Academic Achievement
    According to Child Trends, parents whose annual income is less than $25,000 are much less likely than parents with an income over $75,000 to expect their child to attain a four-year-college degree. This brief examines research and data on parental expectations, noting that parents who are more involved in their child’s life are more likely to hold higher expectations for their child’s education.

Other Resources

  • Schools Working to Increase Parental Involvement
    On NPR’s Talk of the Nation, guests discuss barriers and strategies to get parents more involved in schooling. Guests include Kym Worthy, Wayne County prosecutor; Charles Saylor, National PTA president; and Tracy McDaniel, founder of KIPP Reach College Preparatory in Oklahoma City. Parent callers also participated, speaking about the value and struggles of being involved in their children’s schools.
  • Online Module on Communication and Collaboration
    This online module guides early childhood professionals in developing effective practices for communicating with parents in early care and education settings. It provides five steps to foster collaboration and partnerships between professionals and families. The module was put together by CONNECT: The Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge, which is a national center funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Edutopia Home-to-School Connections Guide
    This free PDF provides educators with “tips, tech tools, and strategies for improving family–school communication.” The guide offers 10 tips for strengthening the relationship between home and school in today’s context of busy, working parents. Many of the tips involve the use of technology and the media to effectively reach out to parents.


  • 2011 Seattle Community Schools Learning Lab
    Hosted by the Coalition for Community Schools and the Community Schools Collaboration, this Learning Lab is a hands-on experience for those at both the practice and policy level. Participants will learn how to plan, organize, and implement their community schools strategy back home. They will explore the development of policies at the state, city, district, and school levels to support and sustain community schools work. The Lab is scheduled for March 30–April 1, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.


This article is part of the March 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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Published by Harvard Family Research Project