ClassTag Connect / Jan 07, 2021

5 Reasons Why You Need Parent Engagement at the District Level

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It’s no secret that parent engagement is a crucial part of ensuring every student’s success in the classroom. Communicating with parents is just one of the many roles teachers take on each school year. Establishing a relationship between parents and teachers is a key part of student achievement. The responsibility of parent engagement cannot be put solely on the teachers. Parent engagement at the district level might be the key to creating a true community and cohesive relationship between parents and schools in your district.

Most school districts have consistent and frequent communication with parents, but parent communication does not necessarily equal parent engagement.

Why your district needs to stop communicating and start engaging

In school districts where parent engagement is lacking, it’s important to note that communication and engagement are not the same. Communication with parents is imperative; for parents to be involved in their child’s education, they have to know what’s going on and how they can be involved. However, parents might receive communication from the district and never attend a school event or spend time at home speaking with their child about education.

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In a district where parents are truly engaged, you might witness parents:

  •     volunteering at their child’s school and school events
  •     encouraging their child in their academics
  •     setting educational goals for their child
  •     asking questions and expressing concerns
  •     communicating effectively with their child’s teachers
  •     attending parent/teacher conferences as well as district events
  •     using their voice to be a partner in their child’s education

A large part of engaging parents is actually teaching and training them on how to engage. While communication is a key part of encouraging parents to be involved, engaging parents means they become partners in their child’s education and choose to share the responsibility of their child’s education with the teachers, administrators, and school district. Additionally, parents will know that their voice matters when it comes to their child’s education. 

Teachers and schools alone cannot take on the responsibility of engaging parents. Here are 5 reasons why you need parent engagement at the district level:

1. Parent engagement has the highest impact on student achievement

In both individual schools and school districts, there are many ways that teachers and school leaders try to help students succeed. Despite the many challenges teachers and districts face each year, the one factor that has the highest impact on student achievement is parent engagement.

Parent engagement programs such as Utah’s UPSTART program have shown that engagement not only increases a student’s confidence and self-esteem; it also has a significant impact on their academics. The evidence of this impact was noted in their research on the UPSTART program’s impact on early literacy. Through a home-based program, UPSTART was able to show a sharp increase in literacy assessments when parents participated in their child’s education. This further promotes the idea that parent engagement can be a valuable tool in remote learning during COVID. 

2. Parental Involvement isn’t Enough 

According to an article written by Education Week, “large and mid-sized school districts such as Denver and Nashville have created positions and departments specifically geared toward parent involvement.” Although parent involvement is certainly an important factor in a student’s success, it’s not the same thing as parent engagement. Parent engagement implies that all parties come together, rather than one party having primary ownership. 

Parent Involvement vs. Parent Engagement

Parent involvement may look like having parents participate in school events, attend parent-teacher conferences, and follow the teacher’s guidance for their child’s education. While many districts may feel this is great in terms of parent-engagement, there is one thing severely lacking: two-way engagement.

Platforms, like ClassTag Connect, with two-way communication, can help parents stay involved and let parents be an active part of the conversation. True engagement allows parents to set the “rules of engagement” and have an equal voice in education. It empowers parents to initiate conversations, initiatives, and goals for their school district and child’s education, alike. 

3. Parent-engagement improves District and School community

To get most parents engaged in a school district, parents have to feel as though their family is welcome and accepted at both the school and district level. Some families may not feel comfortable attending school events or volunteering their time when they’re not already invested in their child’s school. Developing community feels at the district level can enrich the school environment and increase overall parent engagement.

The families of each child in a school district make up the community, and meeting each family’s needs is a crucial part of student success. Without their basic needs being met, students can’t focus or succeed during school hours. In a community where parents are engaged, families will communicate their needs, encouraging other families or school partners to donate their time or resources.

Pro-tip: Connect school and home. Let parents organize a community event that focuses on your community’s culture. Events, like Chili Cook-offs, Bike/Truck shows, Art Fairs, etc. allows the community to come together. Task parents who are active in the community to make connections and lead the event. 

4. Parent-engagement improves social-emotional learning

Parent engagement has been shown not only to increase academics, but it has also shown a decrease in problem behaviors.

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Studies have shown that children with engaged parents have higher test scores, increased confidence, improved social skills, and better classroom behavior. In addition to the short-term benefits of parent engagement, it also helps ensure each student’s future success. Students of parents who are engaged in their education are more likely to further their education after high school.

5. Good parent relationships improve overall morale

When a strong relationship is established between parents and their child’s teachers, students’ morale is certainly improved. Students are likely to be more motivated and have a more positive perspective about school. However, it doesn’t only benefit the students in your district. Lack of parent engagement is such a large obstacle for teachers that positive relationships and consistent engagement from parents can improve morale among teachers and administrators in a school district. When teachers can help students succeed, it boosts morale for both the teachers and administrators.

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