'The Central Office Must Take The Lead'
School districts must do more than just say that parents are welcome to get involved in school programs. The central office must take the lead and set policies that demonstrate to both parents and educators that family involvement is a priority.
Many schools determine their priorities by what the central office considers important--the results of standardized tests in reading, math, and writing. There is no standardized test to measures a school's efforts to involve parents.
So, many schools do little. Their administrative leaders fail to realize that effective family-involvement practices can improve student attendance, behavior, attitudes, and achievement.
To show that family involvement is a priority, school districts must set clear and definite goals for family-school cooperation. They must:
- Provide staff training for schools to assist them in identifying effective practices that support students and the school's program.
- Provide ongoing technical support to schools.
- Allow schools the necessary time to institutionalize successful practices.
- And, most important, make efforts to forge links between home and school a vital part of the evaluation of administrators and teachers.
Once the district has made family involvement a priority, teachers and administrators will no longer need to be convinced of the importance of family and school partnerships. Their effectiveness will soon become apparent in improved student performance and behavior.