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Family, School & Community Engagement

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Families are their child’s first and lifelong teachers. The Consortium has expertise in building strong school and community cultures by facilitating integrated, sustainable partnerships linked to student learning and well-being, leadership, and academic optimism. Educators, families, and community members are essential partners in improving school climates and increasing academic achievement. Researchers find that family engagement is especially critical for low-income, racially diverse and limited-English proficient students because it can mitigate the negative effects of alienation and poverty. To increase high impact, culturally responsive family engagement, MAEC provides services that include professional learning and technical assistance to families, school districts, school staff, parent and community organizations, and government agencies.


Community Resource Mapping – FSCE

MAEC uses a strengths-based approach for asset mapping, since often the best solutions come from within the communities in which our districts/schools reside. These key stakeholders include districts, schools, communities, and families all who are seeking to increase student achievement. To this end, MAEC conducts community walks and community resource mapping to identify potential partners and allies for effective and efficient delivery of services. This process includes attention to alignment between district and school needs and priorities so together partners can build the social and human capital that will help students and staff thrive.

Comprehensive Needs Assessment

Beginning with a disaggregated data analysis of student achievement, student discipline, and school climate, MAEC is able to effectively determine client strengths and areas of need. This collaborative inquiry approach enables MAEC to examine multiple sources of data. Using a culturally responsive and equity framework, further creates opportunities to develop operational action plans to tackle complex challenges that pose barriers to gains in student achievement.

Culturally Responsive Family, School, and Community Engagement

When families’ partner with schools and community organizations,  children thrive. To produce the best results for students, MAEC builds the capacity of families, educators, schools, and community organizations to collaborate, exchange ideas, and develop and implement policies and action plans. We build on the collaborative strengths of families, educators, and community members so they can each contribute to the development and success of diverse students.

Culturally Responsive Leadership

Leaders set the tone and expectations of any organization. They do this by responding effectively to the diverse communities that they serve, being asset-focused, and proactive problem solvers. Culturally responsive leadership technical assistance provides a multi-dimensional framework that builds capacity of educators who are culturally informed and highly skilled in culturally responsive practice.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Culturally responsive pedagogy is a method and practice of teaching in which educators and providers build on the assets that their students and families bring into the classroom. As the populations of our students grow more diverse, staff must be better prepared to respond to their needs. This requires a greater understanding and knowledge of their students’ culture, strengths, and socio-political contexts. With this practice, schools can become hubs of learning focused on the well being of the students and families being served.

FSCE Trainer-of-Trainers

Successful high-impact FSCE depends on the skills and knowledge of a variety of stakeholders. MAEC conducts FSCE Trainer-of-Trainers for Title I and Title III family engagement specialists, ESOL teachers, and counselors to increase the capacity of staff to engage diverse families in their children’s education.

Parent Academy Planning and Monitoring

Parent academies are a great way for schools and districts to engage families. However, to be effective requires intentional and strategic planning. MAEC facilitates the development of a comprehensive district-wide approach for action planning, provider identification, and outcome monitoring to ensure parent academy success.

Parent Leadership Trainer-of-Trainers

Strong FSCE is built on the collaboration between schools and families. MAEC delivers a FSCE trainer-of-trainers model to district/school parent outreach staff to develop a strong cadre of parent/community leaders. Schools and districts are most successful when parent/community leaders can successfully navigate their children’s schools, including understanding the importance of being engaged in their children’s education, advocating for access to rigorous curriculum, and collaborating with school staff in shared decision-making to better serve students.

Policy & Procedural Reviews

In educational systems, policies and procedures often inform practice. However, some policies or procedures may have unintended consequences when implemented that serve to further silo organizational efforts to close opportunity gaps. To address this challenge, MAEC provides state departments, districts, schools, and organizations with policy and procedural reviews to ensure they are equitable, effective, and comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT) Trainer-of-Trainers

Trained by APTT’s creator, Maria C. Paredes, MAEC offers APPT training to district staff and/or school clusters wishing to adopt this comprehensive FSCE model. This model includes strategies for sharing student data, establishing student goals, and providing families with activities to practice foundational skills with their children at home.  The APTT model incorporates three, 75- minute academic parent-teacher meetings, one 30 minute individual parent-teacher conference, and a library of at-home activities that are aligned with foundational skills student need to have to be at or above grade level.

Entre Nosotros, Between Us: Transitions into Kindergarten: Trainer-of-Trainers

Entre Nosotros was developed as a trainer-of-trainers curriculum to prepare childcare providers, early childhood centers, preschools, and kindergarten educators with parent workshops aimed at easing the transition into kindergarten. The five two hour lessons cover topics such as: (1) Importance of family engagement in student success; (2) Tips for School Success, including explanation of cultural expectations for new immigrant parents; (3) Communication & Positive Discipline; (4) Home Support for Learning; and (5) Family Literacy & Celebration! This curriculum is available in English and Spanish.

Family Engagement in the Classroom

This teacher induction curriculum, co-created with the Flamboyan Foundation, is designed to give teachers the strategies and tools to help them engage families in their classrooms. Teachers receive example lessons, interactive homework, and tools to better understand, and bring into the classroom, student’s and family’s funds of knowledge. These skills help teachers create welcoming classrooms and establish positive relationships with families to build student success.

Informed Parents, Successful Children: Trainer-of-Trainers (IPSC)

Originally developed in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, IPSC promotes the positive development and school readiness of young children by delivering training to parents, family day care providers, and community based organizations serving linguistically diverse families. IPSC materials include a Trainer of Trainer’s Guide in English and Spanish and Child Development Pamphlets for parents in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and French. The culturally responsive workshops aim to encourage children’s cognitive, physical, socio-emotional, language, and literacy development. The curricula is divided into activities for ages 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months, 18 months-3 years, and 3 yrs-5yrs old. The user friendly materials provide trainers and parents with developmentally appropriate and fun activities using items commonly found in parents’ homes.

Paving the Way to College and Careers: Families and Schools Together

This progressive, 9th-12th grade curriculum, offers high school counselors with five, 1.5 hour lessons they can deliver to parents/students to help them get ready for college/careers. The lessons are structured to achieve five main goals: 1) Strengthen the parent/student relationship by providing a safe and structured space for dialogue; 2) Establish a strong connection between parents/students with their high school counselors; 3) Increase student/family knowledge of the academic and developmental milestones they will encounter in high school;  4) Develop skills and strategies necessary to be on track for a post-secondary education/career; and 5) Successfully complete a PSAT/PLAN, SAT/ACT, FAFSA, and college/technical education application or job application.

¡Bien Educados!

MAEC is partnering with the Maryland State Department of Education to develop a statewide communications network called ¡Bien Educados! This project will bring together policymakers, state and district education leaders, non-profit and faith-based organizations, and governmental agencies that serve the   state’s Latino community.  The network will provide timely and actionable information, tips, and strategies so that Latino families can better advocate and support their children’s education. The goals are:

  • Increase the number of strategic communication partners who participate in the network;
  • Increase the number of Latinos and Latino-serving providers interfacing with MSDE to gain information, tips, and strategies on how to help support their children’s education;
  • Disseminate an annual Latino communications survey to policymakers, educators, providers, organizations, and families to determine the educational needs of Latinos; and
  • Provide an opportunity to create a community of practice across the state where policymakers, educators, and providers can share best practices for engaging Latinos in education to close achievement gaps.
¡Bien Educados! seeks to create cultural brokers with educators and providers who are already serving the Latino community so that they can inspire and encourage Latino families to engage in their children’s schooling and work together to close achievement gaps in their communities.

¡Adelante! Moving Forward!

A Guide to Empower Parents of English Learners to Advocate for their Children In 2010, approximately five million students in the United States were identified as English Learners (ELs). These students have different levels of English proficiency and number of years of formal education. While this growing number of ELs represents a considerable challenge, it is the responsibility of schools to ensure that ELs have equal access to quality education that enables them to progress academically while learning English. Currently there is a substantial body of legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which protects the rights of these students. Unfortunately, many parents of ELs are not aware of these laws and therefore cannot advocate for their children. ¡Adelante! Moving Forward! A Guide to Empower Parents of English Learners to Advocate for their Children is designed as an informational training tool to provide trainers of immigrant parents and parent leaders with user friendly and accessible information regarding the legal responsibilities of educational agencies serving ELs and the rights of parents of ELs. The publication was developed through a partnership between the MAEC and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP). It is available in English and Spanish. View the Table of Contents for ¡Adelante! Request a free copy of this publication. [gravityform id="16" title="false" description="false"]

Post Image Addressing the Needs of the Whole Child: Inter-Agency and Community Collaborations for Student Success

Part of MAEC’s Boosting Success for 21st Century Learners Webinar Series, this webinar introduces participants to two innovative programs that link schools and communities together to meet the growing needs of families, children, and youth so all can thrive. This session was originally held on November 19, 2013 Presenters:

  • Carolyn Camacho, Site Coordinator, Identity at Watkins Mill High School Wellness Center (MD)
  • Luis Cardona, Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator, Positive Youth Initiative, Montgomery County (MD)  Department of Health and Human Services
  • Christian Rhodes, Education Policy Advisor, Office of the County Executive (MD)
  • Corey Smedley, Assistant Chief S/A to DCAO for Public Safety, Prince George's County Government (MD)
Description: As families and schools face challenging economic times, finding innovative ways to form inter-agency and community collaborations is key to supporting student success. This webinar highlights two innovative programs that link schools and communities together to meet the growing needs of families, children, and youth so all can thrive. The first program is the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI). Christian Rhodes and Corey Smedley will describe how TNI focuses on providing coordinated economic, health, public safety, and educational services to six neighborhoods in Prince George's County, MD. The second program is the Wellness Centers in Montgomery County Public Schools, MD. Luis Cardona and Carolyn Camacho explain how the Wellness Centers work with children and their families in the school community to reach their full potential by offering coordinated medical care, preventive and psychosocial services, quality counseling, positive youth development, and health education, in a culturally sensitive and confidential manner. Learning Outcomes:
  • Gain an understanding of how inter-agency and community-based collaborations with districts/schools can increase students' achievement and well-being;
  • Learn about two innovative Maryland programs: the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative from Prince George's County and the Wellness Center Program in Montgomery County; and
  • Develop an understanding of common barriers to this work and conditions/resources needed for success.

Post Image Community Engagement for Student Success

Part of CEE’s Exploring Equity Issues series, this paper defines community engagement and offers strategies on ways schools and communities can work together to support student achievement.    

Community Engagement for Student Success

PART 1: WHAT DO WE MEAN BY COMMUNITY? How should we define community? Of the many working definitions of “community,” we prefer the definition offered by Chavis and Lee: “Community is both a feeling and a set of relationships among people. People form and maintain communities to meet common needs [and experience]. Members of a community have a sense of trust, belonging, safety, and caring for each other. They have an individual and collective sense that they can, as part of the community, influence their environments and each other” (2015). This definition acknowledges both the aspirational goals that individual people and entities bring to a place and the sense of connection that emerges. These aspirational goals are often understated, particularly for low-income individuals and people of color and the communities in which they live. Each community has a complex makeup of intricate systems, cultures, and resources. Developing relevant and lasting systems for safe and supportive school environments requires communities, and the people and institutions within them, to be at the center. Tackling complex problems requires change within and across institutions and local systems and among the individuals working and living within them. Schools exist within communities. When a community is engaged in schooling, the entire school (including students and teachers) has expanded access to the resources offered by the community. The community also has an opportunity to deepen its investment in the outcomes of its youth. Community engagement is commonly used to describe place-based institutional-and individual-level collaboration. Recently, placed-based initiatives have adopted some consistent structures and practices that we should apply to our work toward safe and supportive school environments. A 2015 Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy report identifies two critical components of place-based initiatives—neighborhood initiatives and systems initiatives. Both components align to create tangible, lasting improvements (Hopkins and Ferris, 2015). When considering processes and strategies for engaging diverse communities – particularly marginalized communities – leaders in a school or district must first consider their own readiness. Engaging communities in change that will affect them requires leadership to adopt early on a set of agreements or principles that ground efforts and engagement. CEE’s forthcoming publication, The “C” in FSCE, explains and expands upon two grounding constructs: Cultural and Linguistic Competence (CLC) and Critical Race Theory (CRT). We provide these constructs as models of common and useful tools to create a guidepost for collaboration and as an accountability tool that might serve as a reference point throughout the collaboration process. PART II: WHAT CAN WE DO? Understand and acknowledge the different types of neighborhoods and circumstances. One size does not fit all, and no two problems are the same. Schools may need to collect data to understand the unique assets and barriers within their communities. Educators can learn this by: • Conducting community walks, • Scheduling meetings (such as PTO meetings) at a community center instead of the school, • Conducting home visits, • Going to community events, and • Holding community events that you think people will attend. Community asset mapping offers a clear picture of the resources and gaps from a strengths-based, community-driven perspective. By mapping community assets, you can learn about the specific skills, services, and capacities present in the community that can support school, staff, students, and families. Resident engagement can take different forms, but without shared leadership and responsibility for defining goals, residents are often just used as “window dressing” for a prescribed initiative.“Community engagement” is not necessarily or always community centered. Community engagement exists on a spectrum. The International Association for Public Participation (2007) drafted a spectrum highlighting the levels of a community-centered change and improvement process (see graphic below). Think creatively about people who should be involved. Community organizations, faith-based organizations, and local businesses, for example, all have people who have a vested interest in the community. Their ideas and perspectives can enhance the process. Hopkins and Ferris (2015) assert that “[f]or initiatives to be sustainable there must also be a broad base of local leaders—and ways to continually renew or circulate leadership over time.” Efforts to define and create safe and supportive school environments should focus on shared leadership and should be mindful that: • All perspectives matter. • Assumptions and values should be explicit. • Inclusion is complex and not always easy to implement. • Broadened definitions of knowledge and data are necessary. • Community is complex and diverse. Sometimes, the community is there to support the school. Sometimes, the school is there to support the community. For example, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Lower Price Hill community underwent enormous change. Most students in the area live in poverty and for many years most students did not graduate high school. After the Ohio Supreme Court ruling that the state financing system was unconstitutional, the state had an opportunity and expectation that it could turn around schools like Oyler Community Learning Center (formerly Oyler School). “Community members and parents played an integral role in the planning and implementation of the community school effort. It was the members of the community that pushed for the transformation into a preK-12 school. Local businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations were involved as planning partners and continue to participate with parents and residents in guiding Oyler’s work.” Though not out of the woods yet, “since becoming a community school, Oyler's students are graduating from high school and matriculating to college in record numbers. Oyler has graduated more students in the neighborhood from high school in the past 3 years than in the collective 85 prior years. Oyler has steadily improved student achievement” (IEL, 2018). As a result of intentional community engagement, OCLC has seen an improvement in student graduation rates and has deep community-based relationships with youth and family serving organizations that provide, vision, health (physical and mental), civic engagement, family food services, tutoring/mentoring, college access supports, and employment supports (https://oyler.cps-k12.org). Higher education institutions also engage in building community. The University of Minnesota has a Resilient Communities Project, “a crossdisciplinary program…that supports one-year partnerships between the University and communities in Minnesota to advance local sustainability and resilience.” The project is designed to connect students and faculty to communities in order to build local capacity around sustainability and resilience issues. While helping the community, the University is also training the next generation of leaders to be future sustainability practitioners (https://rcp.umn.edu/). For the 2018-2019 year, U of M chose to engage with two counties: Scott County (a rapidly growing and diversifying area in the southwestern Twin Cities metropolitan area) and Ramsey County (in the heart of the Twin Cities metropolitan area). “The collaboration provided the city and its residents with case studies, data analysis, concept plans, designs, and policy recommendations to build resilience in Ramsey, and offered more than 275 students the opportunity to tackle real projects as part of their coursework, working directly with Ramsey city staff, residents, and business owners.” Keep an eye out for our forthcoming publication that will help schools and school systems leverage a community’s fuller capacity to support students’ overall well being and academic achievement. It will offer specific strategies and resources to engage diverse communities and to help guide schools and school communities to understand and create common frames for planning with cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity in mind. Written by Phoebe Schlanger, MAEC Adapted from a forthcoming CEE publication by Vanessa Coleman, EdD RESOURCES Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/Pages/default.aspx Coalition for Community Schools I Institute for Educational Leadership, www.communityschools.org Community Research Lab Toolkit Janice C. Burns, Dagmar Pudrzynska Paul, and Silvia R. Paz Advancement Project—Healthy City December 2011, updated April 2012 www.communityscience.com/knowledge4equity/AssetMappingToolkit.pdf “Logic Model Workbook,” Innovation Network, Inc. www.innonet.org/media/logic_model_workbook_0.pdf Participatory Asset Mapping: A Community Research Lab Toolkit Advancement Project Washington, DC:Advancement Project—Healthy City Community Research Lab, 2011 www.communityscience.com/knowledge4equity/AssetMappingToolkit.pdf REFERENCES Chavis, D. and Lee, K.. What Is Community Anyway? Our Understanding of Community Can Help Funders and Evaluators Identify, Understand, and Strengthen the Communities They Work With, Stanford Social Innovation Review: Informing and Inspiring Leaders of Social Change, May 12, 2015, https://ssir.org/articles/entry/what_is_community_anyway. Coalition for Community Schools I Institute for Educational Leadership, website, Oyler School, retrieved August 30, 2018 from http://www.communityschools.org/oyler_school.aspx Coalition for Community Schools I Institute for Educational Leadership, “Community School: Profile of Oyler Community Learning Center,” retrieved August 30, 2018 from http://www.communityschools.org/assets/1/AssetManager/Ohio%20Olyer%20FINAL.pdf Hopkins, E. and Ferris, J., eds., Place-Based Initiatives in the Context of Public Policy and Markets: Moving to Higher Ground (Los Angeles: University of Southern California: Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy and USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation, March 2015), https://www.issuelab.org/resource/place-based-initiatives-in-the-context-of-public-policyand-markets-moving-to-higher-ground.html. Hayes, C. , Juarez, B. (2012). There Is No Culturally Responsive Teaching Spoken Here: A Critical Race Perspective. Democracy and Education, 20 (1), Article 1. International Association of Public Participation [IAP2]. (2007). IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation. Retrieved from http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iap2.org/resource/resmgr/imported/IAP2%20Spectrum_vertical.pdf Scaccia, J., Cook, B., Lamont, A., Wandersman, A., Castellow, J., Katz, J., et al. (2014). A practical implementation science heuristic for organizational readiness: R = MC2. Journal of Community Psychology, 43, 484–501. The University of Minnesota, Resilient Communities Project website, retrieved August 30, 2018 from https://rcp.umn.edu/.

Download: Exploring Equity - Community Engagement for Student Success

Post Image Culturally Responsive Leaders

Part of CEE’s Exploring Equity Issues series, this paper examines why it is important for educators to be culturally responsive leaders in order to address the needs of their culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Using one of CEE's case studies, it highlights several preconditions necessary for achieving this and outlines the Essential Elements of Cultural Competence.        

Download: Exploring Equity - Culturally Responsive Leaders

Post Image Engaging Families of African American Learners

This piece,  part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, delivers ideas and practices for cultivating outreach approaches that engage African American parents and families. Download Engaging Families of African American Learners.

Download: Engaging Families of African American Learners

Post Image Engaging Families of English Learners

This piece,  part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, discusses some of the barriers that families of English Learners face that make interactions at school challenging and provides promising practices to help address them.  Download Engaging Families of English Learners.

Download: Engaging Families of English Learners

Post Image Engaging Fathers and Other Male Role Models in Education

This piece, part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, discusses the benefits to engaging fathers and other positive male role models in a child's education and provides promises practices on how to increase this engagement.  Download Engaging Fathers and Other Male Role Models in Education

Download: Engaging Fathers and Other Male Role Models in Education

Post Image Supporting Homeless Students with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Homeless students face a number of barriers in receiving the education and services they need and deserve. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 increases protections and supports for homeless students that build on those in the McKinney-Vento Act. This webinar seeks to provide schools and school systems with an overview of what these changes look like. It discusses student homelessness and leave you with resources and strategies that can lead to improved educational experiences and outcomes for these students. Presenters

  • April Anderson, District McKinney Vento Liaison, Red Clay School District, DE
  • Valerie Ashton-Thomas, Coordinator, Homeless Education and Neglected, Delinquent and At-Risk Programs, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Jennifer PringleDirector, NYS-TEACHS, Advocates for Children of NY

Video of Supporting Homeless Students with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from MAEC.

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