Sunday, December 27, 2009

Readiness Schools & Family Involvement

Family involvement in schools is a shared responsibility. Children depend on all of us to support their development everywhere our children learn - - at home, in pre-k programs, in school, in after-school programs, in faith-based institutions, and in community programs and activities. We know that families play many essential roles in student success.

The development of Readiness Schools in Massachusetts provides an opportunity to reinforce a culture of collaboration in the Commonwealth. To be successful, Readiness Schools need to build on the nine characteristics of effective schools, which include effective family and community engagement and collaboration and communication among teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

Effective parent engagement and involvement is not just a good idea, it is the law. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) details ambitious guidelines; now we must commit to more faithful implementation and enforcement.

Here in Massachusetts the Parent and Community Education and Involvement Advisory Council (PCEI) to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has worked to propose a set of six fundamentals for Family and Community engagement, which are based on National PTA's Family-School Partnership Standards. The National Standards describe six standards schools can use to plan, benchmark, and evaluate effective school, family, and community involvement policies and practices. Readiness Schools need to model these best practices for meaningful parent engagement and involvement, especially to be responsive to the family, cultural, and economic diversity of their communities.

Effective family engagement is essential regardless of parents' education level, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background. Families play a critical role in children's school readiness as well as of students' decision to pursue higher education. Their role is a shared responsibility through collaboration with schools, educators, and community organizations to achieve more effective educational opportunities.