Action Overview: Develop Plans

Action: Develop communication and engagement plans

This set of resources is designed to support educators as they develop communication plans and engage families and parents.

Introduction

Research shows a positive correlation between parent and family engagement in schools and student achievement. Likewise, it is important to engage all stakeholders: parents, families, students, educators, business and community members. It is critical for schools to understand each of their unique perspectives to best prepare students for career and college readiness. Being aware of stakeholders’ strengths, assets, skills and desires can help schools create supports and expectations for students, while defining each partner's unique and important role in the educational process so all students have a chance to succeed.

Relationships built on trust and respect are essential for community and family engagement. A focus on authentic relationship building is especially important in situations or communities where past negative experiences and/or historical inequities have led to biased perceptions and damaged relationships between home and school. (SEDL, 2014, p. 9)

How are the plans for engaging families, communities, and other stakeholders developed?

Community engagement plans are specific plans that provide a vehicle for participation in the process of decision making. Site community engagement plans define a process for the community to provide feedback and guidance on issues that impact students, staff and the community as a whole. For the purposes of the Portal, the focus of a community engagement plan is to increase student achievement in a standards based system.

Raising the next generation is a shared responsibility. When communities and schools work together, students are more successful and the entire community benefits. For schools and districts across the U.S., community engagement has become an integral part of education reform efforts. Some considerations for sites creating community engagement plans:

· What are the modes of engagement?

· Who are the stakeholders?

· What stakeholder groups are currently engaged in increasing student achievement?

· What stakeholder groups are missing?

· What can sites do to ensure that currently uninvolved groups can be meaningfully involved?

· How can we eliminate barriers to stakeholder participation?

· How are stakeholders informed, involved, empowered and invited to collaborate?

What are communication plans?

Communication plans are intended to inform and receive input from parents and families of information that impacts students, staff and the community as a whole. For the purposes of the Portal, the focus of communication plans is to increase understanding of grade-level learning expectations and standards.

Communications plans require consistent messaging and processes to receive information to increase clarity and to temper misunderstandings. It is important for leaders to present a common message. Leadership teams should consider communicating with and involving students, parents, and community members during the planning process, as well as when making decisions such as prioritizing targets, identifying strategies, or setting trajectories. Stakeholders who are invited to participate in a process can become the district’s best advocates for change. With a well-constructed plan, community stakeholders can do the work of building support themselves. Some considerations for developing a communication plan:

· Who are the stakeholders?

· What information needs communicating?

· Why is the information important to them?

· How is information exchanged?

· How is two way communication encouraged through a variety of media formats?

· How do we know that we have communicated the information effectively?

· Is the communication accessible, well organized and targeted?

· Is the information available in multilingual formats?

Suggested Activity

Sources

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL). (2014). Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family–School Partnerships.