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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 II, Issue 3
Issue Topic: Using Student Data to Engage Families

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

Family Involvement Articles & Reports

  • Q & A with Heather Weiss about District Best-Practices in Family Involvement
    This interview by William MacKenzie of The Dallas Morning News with Heather Weiss of Harvard Family Research Project discusses what districts can do to promote family engagement as a tool for promoting student achievement and closing achievement gaps. Dr. Weiss highlights some of the best practices from districts like Chicago, Miami, and Boston, which have all made strides in integrating family engagement in district improvement plans.
  • The New Educational Frontier: Family Engagement and Closing the Achievement Gap
    William McKenzie, an opinion columnist at The Dallas Morning News, discusses the Obama administration’s drive to get more parents involved with their children’s education. He examines why family engagement is important and offers advice on how to make the most of federal investments in parent engagement programs, with input from HFRP’s Heather Weiss.
  • Tips for Teachers to Engage Culturally Diverse Students and Families
    This article from Edweek’s Teacher Magazine provides tips for teachers whose students are from different cultural backgrounds from their own. The author provides advice for teachers about how to meaningfully and practically engage the families and communities of their students as a way of promoting equality and improving achievement.
  • When Will You Phone Home?
    In this post on EdWeek's  Leading from the Classroom blog, Patrick Ledesma discusses how teachers can foster successful family partnerships right at the beginning of the school year. He poses several questions to help teachers think about how they envision relationships with parents to best benefit their students.
  • Parent Involvement and Children’s Academic and Social Development in Elementary School
    A recent longitudinal study in the June 2010 issue of Child Development found connections between parental involvement in children’s education during the elementary school years and children’s development of appropriate social skills and behavior patterns.
  • Child Trends Report: How to Improve Academic Performance Outside the Classroom
    This report provides an overview of research on non-school factors that support student learning. It suggests ten goals for improving these factors, including improving the parenting practices for young and school-age children. The report draws on research indicating that family involvement programs have successfully raised student achievement in school.
  • Child Trends Report: Home Visiting Programs
    This recent report from Child Trends synthesizes the findings of various studies on the effectiveness of home visiting programs for young children as well as adolescents. The report provides information about the characteristics of particularly successful home visiting programs at each developmental stage.
  • Wallace Foundation Study on Effective School Leadership
    Learning from Leadership: Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning is the final report from a long-term study of effective leadership structures in schools and districts. The study underscores the link between family involvement and student achievement and shows that student achievement is higher in schools where teachers perceive greater involvement by parents.
  • Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K: State Policies that Bolster Student Success
    This report from Pre-K Now explores the ways family involvement supports high-quality prekindergarten. The report profiles states that have developed effective programs to support family engagement in early learning and provides recommendations policy makers can take to ensure that state programs help families establish a firm foundation of engagement in the early years of life.
  • Evaluation of the Parent Services Project’s Parent Leadership Institutes
    This report highlights findings from an evaluation of the Parent Services Project’s Parent Leadership Institutes, which provide training and support to emerging parent leaders in early childhood programs and schools. The Parent Leadership Institute strives to empower parent leaders to become better advocates for their children and their communities and to promote change in educational settings. The evaluation indicated that parents who participated in PLI gained skills and knowledge, and were more likely to be engaged in their children’s education.

Other Resources

  • La Universidad: un sueno alcanzable (College: A Possible Dream)
    This 5-minute video by the US Department of Education tells the story of Samantha Hernandez, a student at California State University Dominguez Hills in Los Angeles. Filmed in Spanish (with English subtitles), the video aims to show Spanish-speaking families that college is an attainable and affordable, and that many resources and support systems are in place to guide students, such as financial aid advice, help transitioning to college, and career counseling and support.
  • PTA Great Idea Bank
    This webpage provides a forum for parents to discuss best practices in family involvement with each other. Recent discussions include tips on promoting health and wellness and ways to build closer connections between schools and communities. 

Policy Updates

  • H.R. 5211: Family Engagement in Education Act
    This draft of the National PTA’s proposal for legislation encouraging family involvement in education would provide incentives for states and districts to engage families in their children's education to work towards closing the achievement gap.  
  • A New Era of Family Engagement
    The U.S. Department of Education’s newsletter The Education Innovator discusses new and promising practices in strategic, comprehensive family engagement. Specifically, the article features the work of the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group, which has worked to inform federal policy on issues of family engagement. 


  • NBC Education Nation
    NBC News recently hosted a two-day education summit on Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, convening leaders in politics, education, and technology, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with teachers, parents, and students from around the country.  This website features video highlights from the summit, along with links to other education resources for teachers and families.
  • Forest of the Rain Productions – Parental Engagement Conference
    This one-day conference will be held in Laurel, MD, on October 8. The conference theme is “Creating Diversity in Our Parental Engagement Strategies,” and is targeted toward school administrators, parents, teachers, community stakeholders, and PTA members. The conference plans to tackle topics such as effective strategies to engage Hispanic families; the importance of parent, community, and school partnerships; and parental engagement at the high school level.
  • Healthy Teen Network’s Annual Conference
    This year's conference takes place October 26–29 in Austin, TX, and focuses on the theme, “A Time of Opportunity: Engaging Communities in Supporting Healthy Youth and Young Families." Workshop topics include: teen parenting, developmental processes, ethical challenges of prevention programs, and contraceptive programs.

This article is part of the October 2010 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