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Involve Students and Parents

Guiding Principles

Note: The term “parent” is used in this document to represent the adults in a child’s life who support a child throughout his or her education.

  • If the system of education is to be successful, every aspect of the system must function in tandem with all the other parts. When any one of the system parts is missing or out of sync, the entire system falters. When educational systems are able to engage all the elements that affect student outcomes – including families – they will provide greater support to all students.
  • The following characteristics should be a part of every transformation effort: (1) relationships among family, community members, and school staff that foster trust and collaboration; (2) recognition of families’ needs, class, and cultural differences that encourage greater understanding and respect among all involved; (3) involvement of all stakeholders in shared partnerships and mutual responsibility that support student learning. Student voice is essential to the redesign of schools. Schools must become places where all students will thrive.
  • Families, schools, programs, neighborhoods, communities, and virtual spaces where our children and youth live and learn have tremendous potential to address the challenges that young people face while also nurturing in them key character strengths that are foundational for success in life. Therefore we must be intentional and purposeful about how we weave these components into a system of support for all children.

Key Issue 1

Researchers have evidence for the positive effects of parent involvement on children, families, and school when schools and parents continuously support and encourage the children’s learning and development (Eccles & Harold, 1993; Illinois State Board of Education, 1993). According to Henderson and Berla (1994), “the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status but the extent to which that student’s family is able to: (1) create a home environment that encourages learning; (2) express high (but not unrealistic) expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers; and (3) become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community. Parent involvement in activities that are effectively planned and well implemented result in substantial benefits to children, parents, educators, and the school.


102.  Create structures, policy, leadership, procedures, processes and aligned resources that encourage and sustain family involvement in the district’s school(s.)

103.  Promote an understanding of the effect that beliefs, self-efficacy, and mindsets have on parents’ support of their children’s education.

104.  Create in each community a mechanism and structure to care for and support children in the community. Community services, supports, and the education system should be seamlessly connected so that parents and children can easily access the supports and services they need.

105.  Give parents opportunities, choices, and the information needed to make those choices in order to help the schools make their children self-directed life-long learners.

106.  Make sure the community works with all families from the birth of each child in order to communicate the importance of the family role in producing literate children by grade three.

107.  Give parents opportunities for continuing education so that they access the tools required for their children to reach high expectations and understand the role of effort in producing well educated students. In this way, parents are models of life-long learning.

108.  Prepare school staff and families to support learning and participate in family-school partnerships that encourage meaningful engagement and the development of caring relationships.

109.  Student voices must be a central element of the redesign process. Students must be given some of the responsibility to create the change needed.

110.  Students should be given a voice in determining the pathway to learn a body of knowledge and skill and/or the way they demonstrate that knowledge and those skills.

111.  Students should have a key role in monitoring and communicating their progress in learning.

112.  Highlight families’ strengths, even amid challenges, when adopting and designing approaches to support students.