Family Engagement

Years of research shows that the roles that families play in a child’s education—supporters of learning, advocates of strong education programs, encouragers of hard work, and models of lifelong learning—can have a significant effect on academic performance. Family engagement is so important to children’s success that it was identified as one of the five essential supports in the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research. As National PTA president Otha Thornton, Jr. has said, “When parents engage a number of ways, students attend school more regularly, earn better grades, enroll in higher-level programs, have higher graduation rates, and are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education.”

National PTA and Illinois PTA are committed to being the leading resource for family engagement, providing comprehensive resources to help families get involved and stay engaged in the lives of their children.

National Standards for Family-School Partnerships
National PTA created the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships based on research showing the key ways that family engagement at school supports student learning. The six standards are:

  • Welcoming All Families
  • Communicating Effectively
  • Supporting Student Success
  • Speaking Up for Every Child
  • Sharing Power
  • Collaborating with Community

These standards and resources provide PTAs with the tools to engage families from throughout their school community to support their children’s education.

Parents’ Guide to Student Success
These guides were created by teachers, parents, and education experts to provide resources for parents to support their children’s education under the Common Core State Standards. Available for each grade K-8 plus high school mathematics and high school English Language Arts (ELA) in both English and Spanish, the guides provide parents with key items children should be learning in ELA and math for each grade level, activities parents can do at home to support their child’s learning, and questions to ask their child’s teacher. An additional guide has been created regarding the new assessments in Illinois.

National PTA School of Excellence Program
National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. Based on the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, the program provides PTAs who sign up with a survey to assess the current level of family engagement and an action plan based on the results of that survey to improve family engagement. PTAs can choose to focus on education, health and safety, or the arts as the area to improve family engagement.

170 schools from across the country were recognized as 2014-2016 National PTA Schools of Excellence. A report on the analysis of those schools showed that as a result of the program there was a:

  • 46% increase in the number of families that feel their school and PTA always empower them to support student success
  • 102% increase among families that feel their school and PTA always speak up for every child
  • 53% increase in the number of families that feel their school and PTA always share power in decision-making and school improvement
  • 78% increase in families that feel their school and PTA always collaborate with the community.

Illinois Early Learning Tip Sheets
Early childhood education can make a significant difference in the academic success of students as they go through their school year. The Illinois Early Learning Project has created over 180 tip sheets to help parents during those early years. The tip sheets are available in English, Spanish, and Polish (almost all of them), with some available in Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Arabic.

National PTA Special Education Toolkit
Helping a child with special needs in school is often a difficult job for parents as they navigate the confusing system of special education, services, and resources. This toolkit helps to educate and guide families of newly-diagnosed children through that maze to help them get the support and resources they need to be successful.

National PTA Male Engagement Network
Studies show that students perform better when both mothers and fathers are involved in the education of their children, yet school activities and PTA are often seen as mom’s job alone. National PTA has worked with other organizations and has created programs to engage fathers, grandfathers, and other male role models in their children’s education and in their local PTA.

National PTA Take Your Family to School Week
Take Your Family to School Week occurs every February as a way for schools and families to develop connections. This year’s Take Your Family to School Week will be February 15-20, 2015 and will focus on the theme of Supporting Student Success. Materials include turnkey programs ready for your PTA to use to engage families on issues such as literacy, bullying prevention, student success, and more, complete with promotional materials in both English and Spanish.