Collaborating to transform and improve education systems: A playbook for family-school engagement

Writing for Brookings, Rebecca Winthrop, Adam Barton, Mahsa Ershadi, and Lauren Ziegler introduce a new playbook on family-school collaboration that makes the case for why family engagement is essential for education systems transformation and why families and schools must have a shared understanding of what a good quality education looks like. Excerpts of the piece appear below:

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the topic of families and schools working together to educate children at the center of virtually every country’s education debate. Families’ increased expectations of deeper engagement with schools are reflected in representative surveys of parents across Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the United States—all pointing to this rising demand from families for new approaches to working with schools (Learning Heroes, 2020; Molina et al., 2020).

Many leaders of schools and school systems across the world had an “aha” moment when, after pivoting to new outreach and communication mechanisms, they saw major jumps in the level of engagement of families, especially among those who had been previously deemed hard to reach. A new focus on ways to connect families with schools presents an opportunity to markedly shift broader approaches, and the overall vision, for long-term collaboration. This playbook shows that family-school engagement—namely the collaboration between the multiple actors, from parents and community members to teachers and school leaders—has an important role to play in improving and transforming education systems to achieve four main goals:

  • Improve the attendance and completion of students
  • Redefine the purpose of school for students
  • Improve the learning and development of students
  • Redefine the purpose of school for society.

Together, these four goals contribute to both improving and transforming the education system.

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