Families Smiling with children

Family, School & Community Engagement

Three People Graphic

Families are their child’s first and lifelong teachers. MAEC 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.  Currently, MAEC operates the federally funded regional statewide family engagement center in Maryland and Pennsylvania, Collaborative Action for Family Engagement (CAFE). 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 Book Cover of ¡Adelante! Moving Forward! 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://socialinnovation.usc.edu/social_research/place-based-initiatives-in-the-context-of-public-policy-and-the-market-moving-to-higher-ground/ 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 https://democracyeducationjournal.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1023&context=home 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.

Culturally Responsive Leaders

PART I: TIMES HAVE CHANGED, AND THEY HAVEN’T The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that in 2014,students of color represented slightly more than half (50.5%) of all public school students, an increase from 38.8% in 2000 (McFarland et al., 2018). Meanwhile, teacher demographics have remained stagnant. NCES data list 81.9% of public school teachers in 2012 as White (the latest year available), a small decrease from 84.3% in 2000 (Musu-Gillette et al., 2016, US ED, 2016). They are not just White; they are predominantly White, female, and middle class. Why is this important? Research shows that students’ race, ethnicity, and cultural background significantly influence their achievement (Aceves & Orosco, 2014). Yet many teachers are inadequately prepared to address the needs of their culturally and linguistically diverse learners (Skiba, et al., 2011; Darling-Hammond, 2010; Miller, 2009). Culturally responsive teachers can close the achievement gap by fostering academic optimism, raising expectations of excellence, connecting with each student’s prior knowledge, and delivering content knowledge in ways students can understand (Ball & Forzani, 2011; Farr, 2010; Brown et al., 2009; Miller, 2009). Culturally responsive leaders nurture and maintain high-quality teaching, and foster an inclusive community that builds on teacher, student, and family assets. The recognition that schools need culturally responsive teachers and leaders is not new. In 2005, the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) published a report on preparing and supporting diverse, culturally responsive leaders (then referred to as culturally competent leaders). It grew out of a series of meetings among practitioners in the field. It was intended to provide field-based insights from people working in/with leadership development programs for school leaders across the country. The report outlined five themes: 1. Educational leaders who are not culturally competent cannot be fully effective. 2. Culturally competent leaders work to understand their own biases as well as patterns of discrimination. They have the skills to mitigate the attendant negative effects on student achievement and the personal courage and commitment to persist. 3. Much of what culturally competent leaders must know and be able to do is learned in relationships with families and communities. 4. Culturally competent leadership develops over time and needs to be supported from preparation through practice. Creating collaborative frameworks and structures can be useful. 5. State and local policies need to build a sense of urgency about preparing culturally competent leaders (IEL, 2005). A Case Study CEE engaged in a technical assistance project with a school district that was designed to assist educators in becoming culturally responsive leaders. This district of 3,600 students had four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Its student population was 77% White, 3% African American, 13% Asian, 4% two or more races, and 4% Latino/a. Less than 1% were English learners and 4% were economically disadvantaged. One of the superintendent’s priorities for the school year was for district staff to develop an understanding of the importance of culturally responsive pedagogy and practice. He requested assistance to facilitate conversations on race, class, and gender. The district had received three complaints from families who reported receiving unfair treatment. He recognized the challenges of addressing potentially deeply-rooted biases. CEE began work at the elementary school with the greatest diversity of students. CEE offered a professional development workshop to about 50 school staff along with the superintendent. The workshop was designed to allow persons of different backgrounds to gain an  understanding of culturally responsive teaching in a non-threatening way. It focused on developing an understanding of how cultural background and prior experiences shape mindsets and worldviews. The goal was for teachers to be able to use this information to shape how they engage with and support students from diverse backgrounds. The session provided an opportunity for teachers and the superintendent to discuss reports from some families regarding their discomfort in the district and how the district could implement strategies to address these concerns. Initial teacher response to the session was generally positive, but teachers questioned why the district was offering this session. They also appreciated having an opportunity for discussion and the reminder that people are defined by so many characteristics. But they would have liked to have been given suggestions on how to treat students more equitably and given more time to brainstorm together to come up with a plan and tools for engaging parents in this work. CEE conducted a discussion with a smaller group of school and district staff to see how to move the project more quickly. They agreed to  focus on facilitating sessions among teachers to help them feel less defensive and become more open to addressing issues of culture and equity in the district. To be successful, staff need the rationale behind the professional development so that they are better prepared to engage in difficult conversations. PART II: WHAT CAN WE DO? There are many preconditions to becoming a culturally responsive leader. Our case study highlighted the following lessons learned: FOSTER RELATIONSHIPS Foster relationships between district leadership and staff to discuss issues such as school climate, cultural responsive pedagogy and practice, authentic family and community engagement, and equitable opportunities for students. Culturally responsive leaders have the capacity to break down systems of practice that perpetuate inequities. They need to engage people from different cultures and to act as cultural brokers. This means they must communicate effectively a culturally responsive vision and goals, not always an easy task. They must simultaneously be a catalyst for change while handling dissonance. Above all, they need to create a safe environment for courageous conversations about cultural responsiveness, and where people are held accountable. BUILD TRUST FIRST Build trust and establish relationships prior to providing professional development. This will enable staff to acknowledge, accept, and reflect on their own biases and potential consequences for their school or district. This valuable reflection time will more likely lead to buy-in from staff and enable sustainability. The staff also needs professional supports to engage in this challenging work. BE TRANSPARENT Be transparent about the reasons for professional development and create a thriving, culturally responsive professional learning community. Provide the rationale for the professional development so participants are better prepared to engage in difficult conversations. Culturally responsive leaders are vulnerable with staff as they engage in these discussions. As the case studied showed, teachers questioned why they were attending this particular topic for professional development. A thriving, culturally responsive professional learning community supports adult learning that is reflective of student racial and cultural backgrounds and includes educator of color voices. CULTIVATE STRONG LEADERS Cultivate strong leadership within the school building and district to build and sustain the necessary cultural and instructional changes. Culturally responsive leaders need an understanding of critical theories about how people learn. They also need to know the impact of race, power, legitimacy, cultural capital, poverty, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, language, and other factors on learning. Equally important, they need to understand patterns of discrimination, inequalities, and injustice associated with individual groups. Finally, they need to be able to articulate their own philosophy of education and to examine whether they use it to maintain the status quo or to empower others’ active participation in their own transformation. KNOW YOUR DISTRICT AND YOUR BUILDING Whether using an external consultant or a qualified district staff member, devote sufficient time to learn about your district characteristics, needs, and interests. A culturally responsive leader knows who is in their district and who is in the building and community. Addressing cultural responsiveness requires a tailored approach. Culturally responsive leaders should understand the cultural history of their schools, families, and communities. They should aim to possess a global perspective. Culturally responsive leaders also know and question their own values, commitments, beliefs, prejudices, and uses of power and influence. They must be able to understand a variety of contexts and situations and to accept challenges that arise. Conclusion Culturally responsive leadership improves learning (Darling-Hammond, 2010). The work of educational leaders is to ensure that teachers have the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that every student receives the highest quality instruction every day. When educational leaders lack cultural understanding, they may react defensively in the face of diversity to maintain the status quo (IEL, 2005). When educational leaders understand the cultural context, they can set a tone for collaboration and facilitate academic excellence. Written by Phoebe Schlanger, MAEC The Essential Elements of Cultural Competence #1 ASSESSING CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE What would a culturally responsive leader do? Assemble his/her collaborative leadership team to reassess the extent to which cultural knowledge of students is clearly present in the school’s vision and mission. #2 VALUING DIVERSITY What would a culturally responsive leader do? Conduct a school climate survey and determine whether school policies and procedures value cultural diversity. #3 MANAGING THE DYNAMICS OF DIFFERENCE What would a culturally responsive leader do? Examine and monitor the extent to which Culturally Responsive Classroom Management and Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Supports and Management Systems are in place and contribute to reducing the frequency of discipline referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. #4 ADAPTING TO DIVERSITY What would a culturally responsive leader do? Monitor the extent to which s/he strategically and systematically engages teacher leaders in collaborative inquiry as a means for transforming the process of decision making. #5 INSTITUTIONALIZING CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE What would a culturally responsive leader do? Examine the extent to which the protocols for teacher placement, teacher performance observation, and teacher evaluation take into account the experience of schooling of students who are disproportionately underserved. REFERENCES Aceves, T. C., & Orosco, M. (2014). Culturally responsive teaching (Document No. IC-2). Retrieved May 25, 2018 from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development,Accountability, and Reform Center website: http://ceedar.education.ufl.edu/tools/innovationconfigurations/ Ball, D. L., & Forzani, F. (2011). Teaching skillful teaching. Educational Leadership, 68(4), 40-45. Basterra, M. d., Trumbull, E., & Solano-Flores, G. (2011). Cultural validity in assessment: Addressing linguistic and cultural diversity. New York: Routledge. Brown, R., Copeland, W., Costello, E., Erkanli, A., & Worthman, C. (2009). Family and community influences on educational outcomes of Appalachian youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(7): 795–808. doi: 10.1002/jcop.20331 CampbellJones, B., CampbellJones, F., & Love, N. (2009). Bringing cultural proficiency to collaborative inquiry. In N. Love (Ed.), Using data to improve learning for all: A collaborative inquiry approach (80-95). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Cross, Terry L., Bazron, Barbara J., Dennis, Karl W., and Isaacs, Mareasa R. (March 1989). Towards a culturally competent system of care: A monograph on effective services for minority children who are severally emotional disturbed. Georgetown University Child Development Center. Retrieved May 25, 2018 from https://spu.edu/~/media/academics/school-ofeducation/Cultural%20Diversity/Towards%20a%20Culturally%20Competent%20System%20of%20Care%20Abridged.ashx Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America's commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. Farr, S. (2010). Teaching as leadership: The highly effective teacher's guide to closing the achievement gap. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Hanover Research (August 2014). Strategies for building cultural competency. Retrieved May 25, 2018 from http://www.gssaweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Strategies-for-Building-CulturalCompetency-1.pdf Institute for Educational Leadership. (2005). Preparing and supporting diverse, culturally competent leaders: practice and policy considerations. Washington, DC. ISBN 1-933493-01-1 McFarland, J., Hussar, B., Wang, X., Zhang, J., Wang, K., Rathbun, A., Barmer, A., Forrest Cataldi, E., and Bullock Mann, F. (2018). The condition of education 2018 (NCES 2018-144). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 25, 2018 from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo. asp?pubid=2018144 Miller, M. (2009). Teaching for a new world: Preparing high school educators to deliver college and career-ready instruction [Policy Brief]. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Musu-Gillette, L., Robinson, J., McFarland, J., KewalRamani, A., Zhang, A., and Wilkinson-Flicker, S. (2016). Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic groups 2016 (NCES 2016-007). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC. Retrieved May 30, 2018 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch. Reform Support Network. (2015). Promoting more equitable access to effective teachers: Strategic options for states to improve placement and movement. Retrieved May 25, 2018 from: https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/implementation-supportunit/techassist/equitableaccesstoeffectiveteachersstrategicoptions.pdf Skiba, R.J., Honer, R.H., Chung, C-G, Rausch, M.K., May, S.L., & Tobin, T. (2011). Race is not neutral: A national investigation of African American and Latino disproportionality in school discipline. School Psychology Review, 40(1), 85-107. Bloomington, IN: National Association of School Psychologists. The Aspen Education & Society Program and the Council of Chief State School Officers. (2017). Leading for equity: Opportunities for state education chiefs. Washington, D.C. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service (2016). The state of racial diversity in the educator workforce.Washington, DC. Retrieved May 25, 2018 from http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/highered/racialdiversity/state-racial-diversityworkforce.pdf.      

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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.

Engaging Families of African American Learners

  In the context of 21st century educational practice, African American learners are continuously called upon ‘to beat all odds’ to successfully achieve and perform in a global, technology‐ mediated community, nation, and world. The nature of this challenge is both immediate and far reaching, giving more meaning than ever to the ancient African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” With this in mind, it has become increasingly critical for schools and school communities to become aware of the full scope of what it takes to fully reach out to African American parents and family members. By building school classrooms and school climates in which parents and families are integrally and constructively involved as participating partners in their children’s education the likelihood of academic success increases for every child. Beyond the traditional ‘Back to School Night,’ quarterly report card, parent conference, or discipline referral conference, today’s school communities must intentionally cultivate outreach approaches that engage African American parents and families at all grade and developmental levels on an on‐going basis. Essential questions to be answered in this regard include: (1) How does the school make it a practice to bridge racial, class, and cultural differences? (2) What extra efforts are made to recruit and welcome families of all backgrounds?(3) What opportunities does the school provide for parents and families to offer their insights about the school climate? (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson& Davies, 2007). Such progressive approaches require raised levels of awareness within school communities about the scope of cultural and institutional factors that impact teaching and learning (Lindsey, Robins & Terrell, 2009). Concurrently, it is critical to provide opportunities to establish and sustain mutual understanding among parents, families, and schools about culturally responsive and socially just practices. PROMISING PRACTICES PUBLICATIONS
  • Henderson, A.T., Mapp, K.L., Johnson, V.R., Davies D.D. (2007) Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family‐School Partnerships. New York, The New Press.
  • Lindsay, R.B., Robins, K.N., Terrell, R.D. (2009). Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders.Thousand Oakes, California, Corwin Press

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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.

Engaging Families of English Learners

English Language Learners (ELs) are the fastest growing segment of the school‐age population, doubling their numbers from approximately 2 million in 1989‐1990 to more than 5 million in 2004‐2005. Currently, ELs represent 10.5% of the total public school student enrollment (Arias, B. & Morillo‐Campbell, M. 2008). Family involvement is consistently cited as an important correlate of effective schools. There is evidence that family practices concerning children’s education are more important for helping students succeed in school than are family structure, economic status, or characteristics such as race, parent education, family size, and age of child (Goldenberg, 2004; Jeynes, 2002). Unfortunately, not all parents; and/or families have the same level of participation in school‐home collaborations. Families of ELs face barriers that make their interactions with schools particularly challenging. Research studies indicate that the most common barriers include: 1) logistical issues concerning transportation, parents’ labor‐ intensive work schedules, and child care; 2) lack of confidence interacting in a culture different than their own; 3) lack of English language skills; 4) insufficient information on home‐school collaboration and/or partnerships; 5) different perceptions and expectations of their role and the role in school related issues and activities; and 6) in some cases, lack of sensitivity and understanding on the part of school personnel. School based barriers for the engagement of ELs’ families include: a) fear and distrust of different life styles; b) a deficit perspective of ELL families; c) lack of knowledge of the native languages; d) a traditional, unidirectional approach to family involvement; and e) negative school climate (Arias, B. & Morillo‐Campbell, 2008; Tinkler, B. 2002). During the last decade several approaches to effective family engagement of ELs have been developed and implemented successfully. These practices have several common characteristics including: 1) acknowledging parents’ cultural values and viewing them as strengths; 2) providing a school environment that is warm, caring, inviting, and receptive to parents; 3) promoting improved communication between parents and schools by using interpreters and parent liaisons; 4) modifying meetings to accommodate parents work schedule; 5) providing child care and transportation; 6) providing school information in different languages; and 7) training school personnel on how to promote effective culturally responsive communication with parents (Rios, F. 2010; Waterman, R & Harry, B. 2008). PROMISING PRACTICES   PUBLICATIONS
  •  Allen, J. (2007). Creating Welcoming Schools: A Practical Guide to Home‐School Partnerships with Diverse Families. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Arias, B.; Morillo‐Campbel M. (2008). Promoting ELL Parental Involvement: Challenges in Contested Times. Arizona State University. Policy Brief available online at: https://greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Arias_ELL.pdf
  • Civil, M. & Quintos, B. (2009). Latina Mothers’ Perceptions about the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics: Implications for Parental Participation. In Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education, edited by Greer, B., Mukhopadhyay, A., Powell, A., & Nelson‐Barber, S. pp. 321‐343. New York: Routledge.
  • De Gaetano, Y. (2007). The Role of Culture in Engaging Latino Parents’ Involvement in School. Urban Education 42, no.2: 145‐162.
  • Dantas, M.L. & Manyak, P. (2010). Home‐School Connections in a Multicultural Society. Learning from and with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families. Routledge, New York & London.
  • Valdez, G. (1996). Con Respeto: Bridging the Differences between Culturally Diverse Families and Schools: An Ethnographic Portrait. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Zarate, M. (2007). Understanding Parental Involvement in Education: Perceptions, Expectations, and Recommendations. Los Angeles: Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.
  •  Arias, B. & Morillo‐Campbell, M. (2008). Promoting ELL Parental Involvement: Challenges in Contested Times. Educational Policy Research Unit, Arizona State University.
  • Goldenberg, C. (2004). Successful School Change. New York: Teacher College Press.
  • Jeynes, W. (2002). A Meta‐Analysis: The Effects of Parental Involvement on Minority Children’s Academic Achievement.Education and Urban Society 2003; 35; 202
  • Rios, F. (2010). Home‐School‐Community Collaborations in Uncertain Times. In Dantas M.L. & Manyak, P. (Eds.) Home‐School Connections in a Multicultural Society. Learning from and with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families. Routledge, NY.
  • Tinkler, B. (2002, April). A Review of Literature on Hispanic/Latino Involvement in K‐12 Education. Retrieved from http://www.huildassest.org/products/latinoparentreport/latinoparentrept.htm
  • Waterman, M. & Harry, B. (2008). Building Collaboration Between Schools and Parents of English Language Learners: Transcending Barriers, Creating Opportunities. National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCREST),

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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

Engaging Fathers and Other Male Role Models in Education

As we seek to gain a better understanding of our dynamic school cultures, it is important to understand how demographic shifts in family trends affect our school communities. Among these demographic shifts is the rise of single parent families. According to the 2010 Census, out of the 75 million children (ages 0‐17) in the U.S., 19.5 million children are being raised in single family homes. Of those, 2.25 million children are being raised by single fathers (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). This statistic is even more pronounced for African American and Latino children. In 2010, 50% of African American children lived in single‐mother families, while about 26% of Latino children did so. The percentages, however, of 3.8% of Caucasian, 3.6% African American, and 2.7% Latino children living in single‐father families are similar across racial groups. Though the percentage of children living only with their fathers is small, the total percentages still account for 7.5 million children. Thus, the data indicate a need for positive father figures and male role models. Several factors have led to the increase in single father families: an explosion in the divorce rate, the introduction of no‐fault divorce laws, lessening of cultural preference of females as the sole nurturers by courts, an increase in joint‐custody arrangements, greater father request for sole custody, and a greater desire by women to pursue careers (Ingram, 2006). As the social norms regarding custody and child‐raising allow more fathers to be nurturers, schools must adapt to these realities too. What are the benefits to engaging fathers and other positive male role models in education? Children who have fathers or male father figures involved in their education are more likely to: get better grades; have better verbal and problem solving skills; do better on achievement tests; demonstrate a higher tolerance for stress and frustration; are more likely to have positive peer relationships (Allen & Daly, 2007); are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities; and, have fewer discipline problems (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). Although the benefits to father/male engagement in education are great, there are still social barriers to father involvement in schools such as: unsympathetic work situations that limit fathers’ abilities to volunteer in school or leave work when children become ill; professional, social, and personal pressure to provide for the family’s economic security; lack of awareness or sensitivity in school staff to address father as principal nurturer; stereotypical expectations that mothers are responsible for matters relating to children, including education; and other parents’ views on father involvement in schooling (Lu, Jones et al., 2010; Pruett, et al., 2009). Schools can find ways, however, to connect with fathers and invite other positive male role models into the education of their children. Some commonly used strategies for father engagement in schools are: communicating directly to fathers, making men visible (by hiring male staff or recruiting male volunteers/PTA members), encouraging fathers to be involved in specific ways (field trips, advisory boards, etc.), holding father/male‐child events throughout the year, and starting father/male‐child clubs (i.e., reading, robotics, mentoring, athletic, chess, etc.). In addition, schools can serve as networks of support to single‐father and single‐mother families by providing opportunities for community based organizations and family service providers to share their resources and expertise with parents (such as information about gender specific adolescent development, counseling services, support groups, etc.). By getting to know students, their families, and communities, schools can help to promote healthy child development and strengthen families in and out of school. PROMISING PRACTICES
  • WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) is a program of the National Center for Fathering focusing on prevention of violence in schools by using the positive influence of fathers and father‐figures to provide an unobtrusive presence in the schools, and to be a positive role‐model for students.
  • All Pro Dad, founded by Tony Dungy, is a program of Family First, an organization dedicated to strengthening the family. All Pro Dad programs include: A one‐hour monthly breakfast held before school where fathers/male role models and their kids can meet, have fun, and discuss family topics. Materials for All Pro Dad’s Days are free of charge to local organizers. These materials include videos, father/child discussion cards, door prizes, meeting instructions, brochures, posters, and promotional flyers.
  • Real Men Cook/Real Men Charities Inc. began in Chicago in 1989 as a way to change the perception of African American fathers by holding annual Father’s Day food sampling, entertainment, and fund‐raising family celebrations. Real Men Cook has generated over $1 million in ticket sales proceeds to nonprofits, is a national Father’s Day event in 15 cities, and is credited with changing the way Father’s Day is celebrated. Real Men Cook encourages recognition of biological dads and father figures and encourages family and community involvement.
  • National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) aims to help children succeed by getting dads involved. NFI's school‐based programming helps schools and PTAs involve dads and increase membership with innovative programs and resources, such as:
  • Dadventures™: Fun, hands‐on activities that dads and kids can do together. Double Duty Dads™: A unique mentoring program that can help PTAs recruit members and volunteers. Dad E‐mail™: A weekly e‐mail just for dads with relevant hints, tips, and advice. fatherhood.org
  • National Compadres Network is based on the principles of"El Hombre Noble" (the Honorable Man), the network’s goals are to strengthen, rebalance, and redevelop the traditional Latino extended family system by encouraging and supporting the positive involvement of males in families and the community.
  • The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) seeks to provide, facilitate, and disseminate current research, proven and innovative strategies that will encourage and strengthen fathers and families, and provider’s capacity to promote a healthy family.
  • Baskill, Jane. Getting Dads on Board: Fostering Literacy Partnerships for Successful Student Learning. Ontario: Pembroke Publishers, 2009.
  • Cabrera, Natasha, and Catherine S. Tamis‐Lemonada. Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, Second Edition. New York: Routledge, 2012. www.teachingforchange.org. Web. 31 May 2012.
  • Carlson, M. McLanham, S., Brooks‐Gunn, J."Coparenting and Nonresident Fathers’ Involvement with Young Children After a Nonmartial Birth." Demography, Vol 45, No. 2, 2008, pp.461‐488.
  • Olsen, G. & Fuller, M. Home and School Relations: Teachers and Parents Working Together (4th ed). Pearson: NY, 2012.
  • McBride, B., Dyer, J., et al."The Differential Impact of Early Father and Mother Involvement on Later Student Achievement." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 101, No. 2, 2009,pp. 498‐508.
  •  National PTA."Men Working." A How‐To Guide on Promoting Father Involvement (2007). www.pta.org. Web. 31 May 2012. <www.pta.org/Father_Involvement_How_To_Guide.pdf>
  • Umbarger,G.T., V.P. Turbiville, and A.C. Guthrie."Fathers’ involvement in programs for young children." Young Children 55.4 (2000): 74‐79. Print.
  • Allen, Sarah, and Kerry Daly."The Effects of Father Involvement: An Updated Research Summary of Evidence." Father Involvement Research Alliance (May 2007): 1‐4. www.fira.ca/. Web. 31 May 2012. <http://www.fira.ca/cms/documents/29/Effects_of_Father_Involvement.pdf>.
  • Ingram, Patreese D."Diversity in People: Single‐Father Families." Diverse Issues 7.1 (2006): 2‐8. Diversity Education. Web. 31 May 2012. <http://diversityeducation.cas.psu.edu/>.
  • Lu, M., Jones, L., et al."Where is the F in MCH? Father Involvement in African American Families." Ethnicity & Disease.Vol 20, Winter 2010, pp. 49‐61.
  • Pruett, M., Cowan, C., et al."Lessons Learned from the Supporting Father Involvement Study: A Cross‐ Cultural Preventive Intervention for Low‐Income Families with Young Children." Journal of Social Science Research. Vol 35, Issue 2, 2009, pp. 163‐179
  •  U.S. Census Bureau."Family Structure and Children’s Living Arrangements." www.census.gov. U.S. Census Bureau, 2011. Web. 31 May 2012. <https://www2.census.gov/about/partners/sdc/events/steering-committee/2012-06/2012-kreider.pdf#>.
  • U.S. Department of Education."The Context: What Research Tells Us." A Call to Commitment: Fathers’ Involvement in Children’s Learning (June 2000): 1‐7. www.ed.gov. Web. 31 May 2012. <http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/parents/calltocommit/intro.html>.

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

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