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School Family Partnerships Framework

Cleveland High School GraduatesAt Seattle Public Schools we recognize that when families are engaged in their children's education they achieve higher grades, have better attendance and behavior, complete more homework, and demonstrate a more positive attitude toward education.

We are proud of the diversity of our students and their families. We believe that building meaningful, authentic and culturally-inclusive partnerships with our families and their communities is the best way to ensure our students’ success in school, careers, and life.

School Family Partnerships District Plan Invitation Letter 2014
School Family Partnerships District Plan Task Force 2014 




Family and Community Engagement


Our Excellence for All Strategic Plan states that "SPS, like all urban school districts, must be creative and relentless in its commitment to engage all families. We have a strong, research-based model for family engagement in the School-Family Partnership Plan, which we plan to implement district-wide." (Excellence for All,  p.39)

At Seattle Public Schools we recognize that when families are engaged in their children's education they achieve higher grades, have better attendance and behavior, complete more homework, and demonstrate a more positive attitude toward education.

What is Family Engagement?


Family engagement in education is defined as the active participation of parents, family members or other caring adults in the education of children through: academic support, advocacy, and partnerships in the school system. The ultimate goal of family engagement is to effectively contribute to preparing students to graduate ready for college, careers and life. 

What Research Says


Researchers and educators have long acknowledged a strong link between family engagement and children’s success in school. Studies have shown that school-family-community partnership programs enjoy improved student achievement, attendance, and fewer discipline problems.

"The evidence is consistent, positive, and convincing: many forms of family and community involvement influence student achievement at all ages. Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home are linked to improved student achievement."
(Epstein, Simon & Salinas [1997], Jordan, Snow & Porche [2000], Starkey & Klein [2000]) in A New Wave of Evidence:  The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement by Anne T. Henderson & Karen L. Mapp, published by Southwest Education Development Laboratory (SEDL), 2002 

"Family and community involvement that is linked to student learning has a greater effect on achievement than more general forms of involvement."
(Invernizzi, Rosemary, Richards & Richards [1997], Dryfoos [2000], Clark [2002])

Seattle Public Schools' Family and Community Engagement Vision


Seattle Public Schools is a district where every family is an active partner in supporting their children's learning and academic achievement.  Schools have systems and practices in place that value and engage families and their communities in essential and meaningful ways.

Family and Community Engagement Mission Statement


Collaborate with and build on the strengths of schools, families and communities in order to implement and institutionalize family and community engagement research-based best practices, tailored to meet the needs of each school community.

Family and Community Engagement Framework


The Seattle Public Schools’ Board of Directors established the Family Engagement Policy 4129 and Procedures 4129 in 2004. It also adopted the School Family Partnerships Plan, based on the framework of Epstein’s Six Types of Involvement, adapted to the needs and characteristics of Seattle’s students and families.

These Six Types of Family Engagement are critical to the goal of maximizing student academic achievement:

  • Student Learning
  • Families Support their Students
  • Communication:  School—Home
  • Welcoming Environment at School
  • School Decision-Making and Advocacy
  • Community Collaboration.

Student Learning


Create a home that gets your child ready to learn:
• Encourage your child to talk about feelings, accomplishments, and problems. Listen actively, reflecting back on what your child tells you.
• Read books or compare notes with other parents to understand the abilities and behavior of a child the age of yours.
• Challenge your child to do well in school. Make your expectations high but reasonable.
• Let mistakes be OK as long as the child learns from the experience.
• Model honesty and teach your child culturally appropriate concepts of right and wrong at an early age.
• Visit the library, museums, and educational and cultural events. Find ways to involve your child in music, sports, a new language, or other activity.
• Read every day, by yourself and with your child as a family activity, for a minimum of 20 minutes.
• Ask your child questions as you read together: Can you tell me what happened in your own words? Why did the character do that? What happens next?
• Consult the Family Literacy and Math Toolkits for your children’s grade level, to see what they are expected to learn in literacy and math, with suggestions and educational games for families to do at home to help build these skills
• Be very selective about television watching. Pay attention to the programs and the total time your child spends in front of the TV.
• Send your child to school on time, rested, well fed, and appropriately dressed.
• Know where your child is, especially a teen.
• Talk directly to your child about your values on drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

Families Support Student Learning


Homework Tips and Family Literacy & Math Toolkits 

Support your child's job as a student and learn some things yourself:
• Provide a quiet atmosphere for homework in an area of the house where there are no distractions. Provide a table, adequate light, paper, pens, and make sure that there is plenty of drinking water around.
• Make a regular time for it that's not too close to bedtime.  Make sure the TV/video games are turned off.
• Keep in mind that many students need a snack and some “down time” at home before tackling schoolwork.
• Encourage your student to complete the homework alone and only ask you for help with what he or she does not understand or needs to practice such as multiplication tables.
• Be around the house at homework time if possible so that your student can ask questions.
• Learn about the teacher's methods and terminology. Try to use the same approach when you help with homework.
• Let your child find the solution if at all possible. Give guidance, not answers.
• Review the finished homework but refrain from re-doing it or correcting it so that the teacher can see your student’s work.
• Reward hard work on homework and at school with an outing, a special dinner, a book, or another treat.
• If your child is struggling, don't wait very long to ask the teacher for extra help or find a tutor. Do it before the child falls far behind.
• Write letters and lists with your child. Tuck an encouraging note from you into your child's book bag.
• Attend classes that interest you and let your child know that you value learning.

Communicating with school staff


Inform the school of your child's needs and listen to the information the school has about your child:
• Provide teachers with important information. Changing family circumstances like divorce, illness, or the death of a pet can upset a child's learning.
• Read all materials sent home from school.
• Contact your child's teacher when you have a concern or question.
• Ask the teacher to explain things in everyday language, not specialized education terms.
• Attend open houses, parent—teacher conferences and family math and literacy nights.
• Request a special meeting if your child's teachers change midterm or there is no open house.
• Find out the best way to communicate with your child's teacher:  by a direct phone line, e-mail or notes from home.
• Return phone calls and answer e-mails and notes from school.
• Consider your school staff’s experience and their broad knowledge of children.
• Contribute your expertise, ideas and insights about your child.
• Expect to disagree once in awhile and embrace the opportunity to see things from another point of view.

Welcoming Environment


Spend time at school helping out if possible, or find a creative way to help from home.
• Help your child's teacher in the classroom. You might listen to small groups of students read aloud.
• Prepare materials for the classroom at home. For example, cut out paper shapes for an art project; make decorations for the classroom/hallways that reflect different cultures.
• Help the teacher correct student papers.
• Prepare food or provide entertainment for holiday celebrations.
• Escort the class on a field trip.
• Tutor a student who needs extra help.


Decision-making and Advocacy


Get informed and get involved in making your school work:
• Join the school's parent group and get to know other members. Invite neighbors to attend with you, especially someone you don't know well who's new to the school.
• Ask to serve on school decision-making committees such as the Family Engagement Action Team (FEAT).
• Help organize school events and projects that benefit families and invite the community to participate.
• Attend school board meetings or campaign for a candidate you believe in.
• Attend District-wide Family Symposiums and Regional Meetings to learn about important information and changes that will affect your child’s education.
• Educate yourself about school levies.
• Ask your legislators to work for education-friendly bills.
• Raise money for school programs and activities.
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Community Collaboration


Play a role in building partnerships between schools and other groups.
• Find out about community based organizations in your neighborhood and the services they offer for children and families.
• Ask your employer for policies such as flextime, extended lunch hours, and compressed work weeks so employees can be involved in school activities. The hours can be made up by staying at work late or coming in early.
• Help the school connect with community organizations and businesses.
• Work with school administrators to find and apply for grants to further learning.
• Organize a career fair to expose students to the range of possibilities for future jobs
• Thank local merchants and other business owners who support activities at school.


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