School, Family, and Community Partnerships

The purpose for schools facilitating family engagement is as a means to improving results for our children. 

Click on stakeholder below for more information and fact sheets on partnerships. 

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What is family engagement?

Meaningful family engagement is based on the premise that parents, educators, and community members share responsibility for the academic, physical, social, emotional, and behavioral development of youth, beginning at birth. Family engagement is fostered through a deliberate process that is embraced throughout the school. It empowers adults to jointly support student growth, addresses any barriers to learning, and ensures college and career readiness. Foremost, effective family engagement systems, policies and practices are mindful of diverse school communities that are rich in language, culture, and school experiences. They are responsive to student and family needs.

Family engagement moves beyond random acts of parent involvement to a partnership of co-constructed roles and shared responsibility to ensure the success of students. 

Why focus on family engagement?

Simply put, schools alone cannot meet all of a student’s needs, and research repeatedly correlates family engagement with student success. Educators, parents and communities all share the same desires for their children. We all want our children to feel safe, respected, and loved, be successful in schools, and live healthy and productive lives. When families, schools and communities partner in promoting learning and healthy development for all children, schools thrive and student outcomes increase. Research indicates that when parents are engaged with their children’s education, whether in school or at home, students do better academically. Regardless of socio-economic background, students with involved parents are more likely to earn high grades and test scores, enroll in higher level programs, attend school regularly, show improved behavior, and develop better social skills (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). 

How can schools engage families?

Families are engaged when they share in developing family engagement systems, building welcoming and supportive environments, enhancing communication, and contributing in the decision-making process. Effective family engagement efforts occur on an onging basis and are embedded in school policies and practices. For more information about the four Principles of Family Engagement click on ISBE Family Engagement Framework Guide. When families, communities, and schools partner to build educational and support systems for children, those systems are strong and more effective.

How can districts strengthen their family engagement efforts?

Effective family engagement efforts occur on an ongoing basis and are embedded in school policies and practices. As a reform strategy, family engagement should be systemic, integrated, and sustained. Superintendents and principals set the district-wide and school-wide tone and expectations for partnerships with families. To demonstrate the value and importance of building family engagement, administrators must establish clear expectations, policies, accountability standards, and processes for staff.

Systemic - Integrated - Sustainable

Systemic family engagement is purposefully designed as a core component of educational goals. Integrated family engagement is embedded into structures and processes designed to meet these goals, including training and professional development, teaching and learning, community collaboration, and the use of data for continuous improvement and accountability. Sustainable family engagement operates with adequate resources to ensure meaningful and effective strategies that have the power to impact student learning and achievement.

ISTAC Supporting Districts and Families

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) surveys over 60,000 parents from across the state each year, to get their perspective on how well they feel schools support their involvement in the education of their child with a disability. This survey provides ISBE with a sample measurement to help them in their efforts to address 'State Performance Plan (SPP) Indicator 8' which reads as follows:

"Percent of parents with a child receiving special education services 
who report that schools facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving services and results
for children with disabilities."

[20 U.S.C. 1416(a)(3)(A)]