How well do schools interact with parents and caregivers? Authentic family and community engagement is a key strategy for improving students’ social-emotional and academic outcomes, but schools have a long way to go in making sure they are equitably engaging with all families.  

EdTrust has three reports on family engagement that cover a diverse range of topics, including:

  1. A survey of parents’ perceptions of how schools engage with them post-pandemic 
  2. Changes policymakers at all levels can make to improve family and community engagement 
  3. Improvements in how results of federally required annual assessments are shared with families 

The first report, “Engaging First: Supporting Young Learners Through Family Engagement,” is based on two nationally representative surveys, including 600 parents or caregivers of children in first or second grade in the 2022-23 school year, and 300 teachers of the same grade. While respondents said their communication with schools was positive overall, there was significant room for growth: 2 out of 3 parents reported their child’s school offered parent-teacher conferences, and parents from low-income or multilingual households were more likely to say they had a bad experience with their child’s school, or that staff was not welcoming.   

The second report, “How Student, Family, and Community Engagement Impacts Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD),” discusses how schools can better communicate with families, caregivers, and communities to support students’ academic development and overall wellbeing, the numerous barriers that can get in the way of such engagement, and offers recommendations for federal, state, and local policymakers to help schools improve the ways in which they respond to their community’s needs.  

The final report, “Making Assessment Reports More Meaningful for Students & Families,” offers guidance on how schools can better communicate the results of students’ federally required annual tests so parents can be better informed about how their students are doing in school and work with educators to get the appropriate supports. Also available is an example of what a better annual assessment report can look like. 

Advocacy Tools

In addition to the reports, EdTrust has developed some resources to give caregivers and advocates guidance on working with local, state, and federal leaders.