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FWPS family engagement is Harvard worthy

Federal Way Public Schools’ family engagement and partnership practices are featured in a policy brief that examines the role of school districts in promoting family engagement. Published by the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) and the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), "Seeing is Believing: Promising Practices for How School Districts Promote Family Engagement" spotlights how six school districts across the country have used innovative strategies to create and sustain family engagement systems.

Federal Way’s programs and practices such as the Parent Leadership Institute and family–school communication are highlighted in the article. It takes note of:

• The inclusion of Trise Moore, the Family Partnership Advocate, at the core level of administrative planning, to ensure that family engagement is an integrated part of district programs rather than an afterthought.

• The role of the District Parent Committee, made up mostly of parents and some teachers, in helping shape the annual performance goals of the Family Partnership Office, creating the agenda for parent meetings and training, and assisting the schools in their efforts to communicate with families.

• The series of workshops called the Parent Leadership Institute (also known as the Advocacy Process Workshop), where parents exchange ideas and strategies to effectively advocate for their children’s school success. Developed by Moore and the district-level parent committee, the program teaches parents how to guide their children to educational success from kindergarten to college. Parents develop one-page support plans to use as a resource for communicating with teachers and counselors. This workshop also serves as the first step toward parents taking leadership roles in the district.

Schools receive help in conducting “What Every Parent Wants to Know” workshops, where parents are invited to ask questions and learn how to partner with teachers and administrators. The workshops impress upon parents the importance of their roles in children’s education and provide concrete examples of how parents can support their children’s academic progress.

Professional development, particularly in the areas of cultural competency, an initiative that came out of the Equity and Achievement work the district has done but which has tremendous implications in family and parent engagement.

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