What Type Of Partnership School Are We?


I have been in an intensive 6 week book chat using the book, Beyond the Bake Sale, The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships, by Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies.  These authors are the nations researchers for FACE (Family and Community Engagement) and have joined our discussions.  This intensive study is the brain child of my friend, Dr. Joe Mazza, of the University of Pennsylvania.  He is experimenting and researching how educators, leaders, parents and teachers are connecting using a common theme and utilizing various technology outlets such as AppreNnet, Voxer blogging, emails, and Google Doc.  You can see the overview of the program here.  This has been the best professional development I have had this summer and will continue throughout the school year.

As we read and reflected on each chapter, the 2nd chapter highlights what family and school partnerships look like.  I will highlight the four versions of partnerships.  What I would like you to do is look at the rubric, then rate our school.  At the end is the scoring of what it means and where our school falls. 


All families and communities have something great to offer –we do whatever it takes to work closely together to make sure every single student succeeds.


  • Family center is always open, full of interesting learning materials to borrow
  • Home visits are made to every new family
  • Activities honor the families’ contributions
  • Building is open to community use and social services are available to families


  • All family activities connect to what students are learning
  • Parents and teachers look at student work and test results together
  • Community groups offer tutoring and homework programs at the school
  • Students’ work goes home every week, with a scoring guide


  • Translators are readily available
  • Teachers use books and materials about families’ cultures
  • PTO includes all families
  • Local groups help staff reach parents


  • There is a clear, open process for resolving problems
  • Teachers contact families each month to discuss student progress
  • Student-lead parent-teacher conferences are held three times a year for thirty minutes


  • Parents and teachers research issues such as prejudice and tracking
  • Parent group is focused on improving student achievement
  • Families are involved in all major decisions
  • Parents can use the school’s phone, copier, fax, and computers
  • Staff work with local organizers to improve the school and neighborhood



Parents can be involved at our school in many ways – we’re working hard to get an even bigger turnout for our activities.  When we ask the community to help, people respond.


  • Teachers contact families once a year
  • Parent coordinator is available if families have questions or need help
  • Office staff are friendly
  • Staff contact community agencies and organizations when help is needed


  • Teachers explain test scores if asked
  • Folders of student work go home occasionally
  • School holds curriculum nights three or four times a year
  • Staff let families know about out-of-school classes in their community


  • Office staff will find a translator if parents ask in advance
  • Multicultural nights are held once a year
  • Minority” parents have their own group


  • Principal will meet with parents to discuss a problem
  • Regular progress reports go to parents, but test data can be hard to understand
  • Parent-teacher conferences are held twice a year


  • Parents can raise issues at PTO meetings or see the principal
  • Parent group sets its own agenda and raises money for the school
  • Resource center for low-income families is housed in a portable classroom next to the school
  • PTO officers can use the school office
  • A community representative sits on the school council


Come-if-We-Call School

Parents are welcome when we ask them, but there’s only so much they can offer.  The most important thing they can do is help their kids at home.  We know where to get help in the community if we need it.


  • Better -educated parents are more involved
  • “Many immigrant or low-income parents don’t have time to come or contribute”
  • Staff is very selective about who comes into the school


  • Parents are told what students will be learning at the fall open house
  • Parents can call the office to get teacher-recorded messages about homework
  • Workshops are offered on parenting


  • “We can’t deal with the poverty”
  • Parents can deal with their issues or bring a translator”
  • “This school just isn’t the same as it used to be”


  • School calls families when children have problems
  • Families visit school on report card pickup day and can see a teacher if they call first


  • Principal sets agenda for parent meetings
  • PTO gets the school’s message out
  • “Parents are not experts in education”
  • Community groups can address the school board if they have concerns

Fortress School

Parents belong at home, not at school.  If students don’t do well, it’s because their families don’t give them enough support.  We’re already doing all we can.  Our school is an oasis in a troubled community.  We want to keep it that way


  • Families do not “bother” school staff
  • “Low income and minority families don’t value education:
  • Parents need security clearance to come in
  • It is important to keep community influences out of the school


  • Curriculum and standards are considered too complex for parent to understand
  • “If parents want more information, they can ask for it”
  • “We’re teachers, not social workers


  • “Those parents need to learn English”
  • “We teach about our country and culture – that’s what those parents need to know”
  • “This town is going downhill”


  • Parents don’t come to conferences
  • Problems are dealt with by the professional Staff
  • Teachers don’t feel safe with parents


  • Principal picks a small group of “cooperative parents” to help out
  • Families are afraid to complain: “They might take it out on my kid”
  • “Community groups should mind their own business; they don’t know about education”

Where does our school fall?

  • If three or more of your checked boxes fall in the Fortress School section and none under Open-Door or Partnership, our school is trying to keep parents away rather than work with them.  In standards-based terms, it is below basic!
  • If three or more of your checked boxes fall under Come-fi-We Call and none under Partnership, your school may want parents to be involved only on its terms.  In standards-based terms, it is at the basic level.
  • If at least four of your checked boxes fall under Open-Door or Partnership and none are under Fortress School, your school welcomes families and supports them to be involved in a number of ways.  In standards-based terms, it is proficient.
  • If at least three of your checked boxes are under Partnership and the rest are under Open-Door, your school is willing and able to work with all families.  In standards-based terms, it is advanced.  Students achievement may also be reflected in the school and goes up every year.

So, where are we?  Where did you put East Side Elementary School?  I have my thoughts.  Why not join me on book study and chat to work together and have thoughtful conversations, push our thinking,  and be better at building our relationships with our families.  Enjoy the cool summer!






  1. I know that PreK is much different from everyone else, but I feel that we accomplish many of these goals. As you know, our Harvest Celebration for families is hugely popular. We also have about 50% of our families choose a home visit as a parent/teacher conference choice. We enjoy doing them and the children love having us come. For many parents, it is their chance to shine. We also greatly appreciate you allowing parents to bring their children to the classroom. We also encourage parents to come down to the classroom to pick their child up. It gives us a face to face contact with parents that is often lost in the older grades. Opening up field trips and classroom activities to all parents gives them a chance to interact with us, their child and other parents.

    1. You do a great job in your program April. I ask for all if us to look at our school as a whole. I would LOVE for you to join our book discussion! You have wonderful ideas!

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