The Washington Family and Community Engagement Trust is a state-wide, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing assistance to state agencies, school districts, schools, and community organizations to partner with families to support student achievement as well as helping families become engaged in the education and well-being of their children. We believe that strong school-family-community partnerships play a critical role in student learning, from pre-school to high school graduation, and that all partners must learn skills and build capacities to work together effectively.
What is family engagement in education?
We define family engagement in education as the equitable and equal partnership between families and schools focused on the achievement and well-being of students.
Decades of national research show that when all families and communities participate in the education process, students attend school and thrive, academic scores and high-school graduation rates increase, and school dropout rates decrease.
Diversity and equity are key
For students of color, partnerships are vital to their success in school. Partnerships built on trust and respect contribute to students’ equitable access to educational opportunities that lead to college and career success. Given the urgency of education reform and achievement gap closure efforts, a key to our success lies in engaging ethnically/racially diverse families as equal partners in education. Diverse perspectives greatly enrich student learning and diverse families’ voices contribute to systemic change.
Educators and administrators across the country consistently identify family engagement to be one of the most challenging aspects of their work. They have a strong desire to work with families, particularly diverse families, but they do not know how to accomplish this. Families, in turn, may face personal, cultural, linguistic, economic challenges to become engaged however, they are eager to be part of the education process and want to feel invited, acknowledged and considered equal partners.
Our parent and educator training programs are guided by the U.S. Department of Education’s, research-based Dual Capacity-building Framework for Family-School Partnerships which delineates the characteristics of effective family engagement initiatives:
Developmental.The initiatives focus on building the intellectual, social, and human capital of stakeholders engaged in the program.
To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of Education site: http://www2.ed.gov/documents/family-community/frameworks-resources.pdf