Decades of research shows that children with involved parents have better school attendance, increased motivation, better self-esteem, lower suspension rates, decreased drug and alcohol use, fewer instances of violent behavior, and overall higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has created the Family Engagement Framework, a set of principles and strategies, to assist schools and districts to form productive partnerships with families. The framework recognizes the tremendous value of engaged families, something PTA promotes through the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and School of Excellence program as a way to help children succeed.
The ISBE Family Engagement Framework closely parallels the PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. The four key principles of the Family Engagement Framework are:
- Develop systems that support family engagement
- Build welcoming and supportive environments
- Enhance communication with parents
- Include parents in decision making.
Likewise, the six PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships are:
- Welcoming All Families.
- Communicating Effectively
- Supporting Student Success
- Speaking Up for Every Child
- Sharing Power
- Collaborating with Community
Given the parallels between the two, the PTA National Standards guide can assist organizers with implementing programs and policies that encourage these family-school partnerships. These materials are best used after the formation of an action team focused on promoting family involvement. This team can include parents, other caregivers and family members, school staff, community members, and even students.
ISBE has drafted a similar guide to help school districts, schools, and families implement the Family Engagement Framework. The guide provides standards for each of the four principles of the framework and a matrix of questions that schools and districts can use to evaluate how well they are engaging families in eight essential areas:
- Comprehensive Planning
- Professional Development
- Conditions for Learning
- Family and Community
ISBE has also created a Family Engagement Fact Sheet in both English and Spanish that provide questions parents can ask of their school and district on these eight areas as well. There is also a feedback form to provide ISBE with information to further improve the Family Engagement Framework Guide.