An Action Plan for Parent
Dr. Vivian Stith-Williams
Virginia Department of Education
What is Parent Involvement?
Traditionally, parent involvement has been
defined as parents’ responsibility for supporting
education by making sure that their children are
attending school, arriving ready to learn, and
receiving help with homework.
Parent involvement grew out of a desire to include
parents in their children’s education, but in school-
prescribed ways. This approach – which is often
considered to be aligned with traditional, middle class
values about education - views parents and school staff
members as serving separate roles and responsibilities for
educating and socializing children and youth.
Parent involvement is …
Activities – room mother, parent volunteer,
school visitation, field trip chaperone,
responding to school obligations
Strategies – Parent surveys, school advisory
boards, partnerships, decision making and
Actions – Monitoring homework, Newsletters,
tutoring at home, phone trees –
designed to engage parents and families in the
education of their children
Barriers to Parent Involvement
Balancing work & family life; changing roles and
responsibilities of parents/families
Changing demographics – differential birthrate,
immigration, diverse language learners
Changing family structure – single, incarcerated,
Pre-existing school goals not aligned with parent
Lack of team approach to parent involvement
Teacher, staff preparation, expectations and
One size fits all approach
Barriers to Parent Involvement con.
Failure to conduct a school community survey
or apply demographic data to school goals and
Negative attitudes towards parent/family
involvement commonly held by both teachers
Rarely viewing parents as leaders/change agents
in their schools.
1. Parenting - providing for the health, safety and
support of children in a home environment
that encourages learning and good behavior in
school. Schools providing training and
information to help families understand and
support their children’s development.
Parenting skills are promoted and
2. Communicating: Communication between
home and school is regular, two-way, and
meaningful. Schools reaching out to families
with information about school programs and
student progress – using traditional and
Communication must be in forms that
families find useful, understandable and
sensitive to their culture.
3. Volunteering: Making significant contributions
to the environment and functions of a school.
Parents are welcome in the school, and
their support and assistance is sought.
4. Student Learning/Learning at Home:
Family members play an integral role in
supervising and assisting students with
homework assignments and other school
5. School decision making and advocacy:
Parents are full partners in the decisions that
affect children and families. Schools can give
parents meaningful roles, training and
information to fully participate in the process.
6. Collaboration with the Community:
Community resources are used to strengthen
schools, families and student learning. Schools
can help families gain access to support
services and provide services to the
A welcome atmosphere, school climate &
structure that supports family involvement
A no-fault approach, focusing on what can be
Coordination and cooperation among all adults
concerned with the child’s best educational
Recognition of the feelings of disconnect
between parents/families and school staff-
Offering a variety of ways parents can
participate – a continuum of options for parent
Learning about the various ethnic, cultural and
socio-economic backgrounds of your students
Knowing how to communicate with diverse
Decision by consensus whenever possible
Regular meeting representing the entire school
Specific tasks, activities and roles for parents
based on their needs, talents and individual
Survey of the community to determine needs,
concerns as well as a demographic profile
Accommodations for parents’ work schedules.
Collaboration with community leaders and
A parent resource center with reading materials
and information about child development/
Homework hotline – for students and parents.
Opportunities for parents/family to
share/discuss hopes for and concerns about
their children, then plan to work together to set
Providing families with a list of required mastery
skills for each subject taught at child’s grade
Maintaining regular communication with home
– family, using a variety of methods
Professional development and training in parent
A written plan to promote, structure and
develop positive teacher-parent partnerships at
What is an Action Plan?
An action plan is a written tool designed to
incorporate a range of parent involvement or
school involvement choices, options, interests,
and activities based upon the learning needs of a
child/student and their family, as well as the
Action Plan Guiding Steps
Identify strengths and weaknesses of:
- your school
Ask yourself what do you want for your child and what
are your child’s needs!
How can you help make these wants/needs a reality?
Is your child achieving on grade level in all areas?
Does your school have a written mission
statement that guides the behavior of both
adults and students?
How does the achievement of your child’s
school compare with the district wide
What have you done or what can you do to
enhance your child’s academic development?
How do you communicate with your child’s
teacher or school?
How do your share your concerns about your
child’s academic performance and overall school
School Action Plan Steps
Conduct a school community Administrators/staff trained in working
survey with parents/families
Identify options for parent Tap into parents’ resources, specialized
knowledge & skills.
involvement at your school
Workshops, resource library, web page,
Align parent involvement goals homework hotline, etc., as means of
with pre-existing goals communicating with parents
Partnerships with community Cultural competence/diversity
groups and services awareness and training
Attention to school climate/culture Offer variety of communication
Team approach and mission methods to reach parents
statement Accommodations for work schedules,
language and cultural differences
Strong Images & Practical Ideas- A Guide to Parent Engagement in School Reform (Research for
Action) – Rochelle Nichols Solomon & Amy Rhodes
New Skills for New Schools: Preparing Teachers in Family Involvement (1997) Angela M. Shartrand,
Heather B. Weiss, Holly M. Kreider & M. Elena Lopez. Harvard Family Research Project
Improving School Culture (2005) Ellen R. Delisio. Education World
A Dozen Activities to Promote Parent Involvement! (2005) Linda Starr – Education World
An Exploratory Study of African-American Parent’s Perceptions on Individualizing School
Involvement. (1997) Dissertation – Vivian Stith-Williams. University of Denver.
Parent Involvement in Education. ((2000) Kathleen Cotton & Karen Reed Wikelund- School
Improvement Research Series – NW Regional Educational Laboratory.
National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs. (2000) National PTA.
Five Guiding Principles for Involving Parents in Schools. (1992) Comer & Haynes. North Central
Regional Educational Laboratory.
Needed Parents! (2005) Roberta Furger. NCLB Confidential. Edutopia.
“School/Family/Community Partnerships: Caring for the children We Share,” (1995) J.L. Epstein, Phi
Delta Kappan, 76 (9), p.705-707.
Critical Issue: Supporting Ways Parents/Families Can Become Involved in Schools. (1996) Joe Nathan
– Hubert H. Humphrey Institute Center for School Change.
Families & Schools Together (FAST) Home & School Institute
Lynn McDonald Sandra Getner, Outreach Coordinator
Wisconsin Center for Education Research MegaSkills Education Center
University of Wisconsin – Madison 1500 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
1025 W. Johnson Street Washington, D.C. 20005
Madison, WI 53706 202-466-3633 (F) 202-833-1400
608-263-9476 (F) 608-263-6448
Institute for Responsive Education
National Network of Partnership Schools Scott Thompson
Dr. Joyce Epstein, Director 605 Commonwealth Avenue
John Hopkins University Boston, MA 02215
3003 North Charles Street, Suite 200 617-353-3309 (F) 617-353-8444
Baltimore, MD 21218
410-516-8800 (F) 410-516-8890 School Development Program
Edward T. Johner, Acting Director
Harvard Family Research Center Project 47 College St., Suite 212
3 Garden Street New Haven CT. 06520
Cambridge, MA 02138 203-737-1020 (F) 203-737-1023
617-495-9108 (F) 617-495-8594