How High-Poverty Schools Can Engage Families

SchoolOfExcellence_LogoAcademic achievement is often correlated with students’ socio-economic status—students from wealthier families tend to do better. But there is an increasing amount of research that shows that high-poverty schools can have students who achieve at the same level as their wealthier counterparts. The key is family engagement.

High-poverty schools have additional hurdles to overcome when engaging families. Many in poverty work several jobs, often with erratic hours. The household may have limited English language skills. Transportation for events during, after school, or in the evening may be an issue. The adults in the family may not have had a positive school experience when they were growing up and are therefore reluctant to engage with the school now.

A recent article at Edutopia, based on the book Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools by William H. Parrett and Kathleen M. Budge, illustrates how schools that actively engage families can improve student performance. The article highlights seven key strategies and practices for schools:

  1. Create Full-Service Schools and Safety Nets
  2. Create Links Between School and Home
  3. Offer Mentoring to Students
  4. Provide Opportunity for Community-Based and Service Learning
  5. Conduct Home Visits
  6. Ensure Effective Two-Way Communication
  7. Use the School as a Community Center

Some of these key strategies might sound familiar to PTA members. They parallel PTA’s National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. A great way for any school, high-poverty or not, to implement these standards is the National PTA School of Excellence Program. Enroll in the free program before October 1, 2016. Your PTA will receive an online survey to have your school community—families, administrators, and PTA leaders—to create a Family-School Partnership Scan. Submit the scan by November 1, 2016, and your PTA then receives a school-specific Roadmap to Excellence that contains customized recommendations that respond directly to your survey results. The Roadmap to Excellence provides the tools and resources your PTA will need to implement your action plan, telling you exactly what your PTA needs to do to become an National PTA School of Excellence. Implement your action plan, and then submit your completed application by June 1, 2017, then celebrate your success during the following back-to-school season! Sign up or read more today!