Helping Families Improve Local Schools: High-Achieving Schools in Low-Income Communities

by Michelle Hynes

Jun 1, 1999
Increasing the involvement of caregivers, parents, and families in their children's education is a key to improving the academic success of our nation's public school students. The positive impact of family interest and participation in schools is well documented. However, more opportunities for meaningful involvement are needed, and many barriers still remain. A recently released study by Public Agenda found that most teachers rate parental involvement at their school as "fair" or "poor." In particular, educators and other practitioners continue to struggle with how to involve all parents in supporting all students' high achievement. Organizations like local education funds (LEFs) focus attention, support, and resources on communities where student achievement is often low, stresses on families are high, and schools lack the basics. But what does "involvement" mean? How can parents and other family members with limited resources of money, time, and formal education be equipped to grapple with the myriad issues that affect student achievement and overall school performance? During 1998, the Public Education Networkf orged a partnership with Kraft Foods and member local education funds to explore key questions about family involvement. The result of this effort was the creation of a variety of local strategies to support high student achievement in low-income schools.
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