Recently, family engagement in schools has shifted from being a low-priority endeavor to an integral part of academic reform. For many schools and districts, parent engagement has been a ‘nice-to-have’ more than a solidified goal. The concept of parent engagement has had success for increasing students’ reading and math comprehension as well as overall engagement in the classroom.
An emphasis on preparation for the future is a cornerstone of modern educational focus and student agendas. It’s critical that family engagement be aligned with this direction. There is an overwhelming need for students to meet and exceed these learning benchmarks in order to secure a bright future. Parent engagement incorporates families into the learning agenda instead of treating parents and families as bystanders in students’ progress and success.
How does family engagement affect children’s education? Studies have found that students with involved parents, no matter their income or background, were more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs. Students with involved parents are also more likely to attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, graduate, and go on to post-secondary education. (Henderson & Mapp, 2002)
Efficacy for parent engagement programs starts by building out the capacity for parent involvement in order to create efficient school-home partnerships. Engagement activities need to be systemic across a district, integrated into the work of teaching and learning, and build a relationship between parents, teachers, students and the community. A parent involvement program implemented in an elementary school during the 2009-2010 school year showed that the program improved students’ math scores by more than 18 percentage points and reading scores by more than nine percentage points by the following academic year. (Mapp & Kuttner, 2013)
The FAST® Program has partnered with organizations like Kansas Reading Roadmap to stimulate reading comprehension and study the effects among various grade levels. By combining these programs, students have shown greater improvements in learning and behavior both in the classroom and at home. Overall, FAST works to empower parents, connect families, improve the school climate and strengthen community engagement through strategic steps with proven results to help students succeed.