A research team at Johns Hopkins University recently evaluated the impact of home visits that occurred in a partnership between Flamboyan Foundation and a dozen Washington DC elementary schools in which 95% of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch, and 96% of students were of color. Their findings?
“Students whose families received a home visit were absent on average 2.7 fewer days (24% less) than students whose families did not receive a home visit,” they concluded. They also had better reading comprehension scores than similar students whose families did not receive a home visit. Schools where teachers felt more supported by administrators in their family engagement efforts and where teachers reported doing more family engagement practices were more likely to experience improvement in student outcomes.”
Flamboyan has now taken this effort well beyond their partnership schools where home visits (two teachers per visit at home or a neutral place other than school) are funded by the foundation. They are now training educators through their Family Engagement Collaborative, training more than 3,000 teachers over the past four years. According to Flamboyan’s Executive Director, Susan Stevenson, the training has several purposes:
- To change teacher beliefs and mindsets about parents, so they see parents as assets and engaging them as part of their responsibility;
- To build trusting, mutually respectful relationships and two-way communication with families;
- To help teachers work with parents (and their surrogates), so they can play the five roles that help students succeed (see last blogpost); and
- To enable teachers to learn from families about their children, so they can better teach them.
The Foundation has also helped to revamp Teacher-Parent Conferences. Building on “Academic Parent-Teacher Teams,” an approach created by Arizona educator Maria Paredes, teachers use conferences to show parents the most important thing the child needs to learn to get on grade level in their subject. The parent gets data on their own child, but also on the class average. Then parents are given a specific learning activity to reinforce that skill, plus all materials needed to practice that skill at home. They set a goal for a 60-day period, and teachers check back later.
One result of such parent conferences? Attendance at conferences has skyrocketed because parents believe it is a good use of their time. I suspect parents love to learn too.