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New study shows Flamboyan’s family engagement is working

On October 25, 2015

Flamboyan’s family engagement shows better student performance in schools.
Credit: flamboyanfoundation.org

A  new study links improvements in the performance of D.C. public elementary school students with Flamboyan Foundation’s Family Engagement Partnership, or FEP, where teachers and school leaders are trained and supported to build trusting relationships with the families of their students and to partner with families to support their children’s academic success. The study, by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, covered 12 D.C. public elementary schools and more than 4,000 students in the 2013-2014 school year. It found that students whose families received a home visit, one of the core strategies in the FEP, had 24 percent fewer absences and were more likely to read at or above grade level compared to similar students who did not receive a home visit.

“This study backs up what so many teachers and families in D.C. schools have experienced: kids do better when teachers and families have close relationships and collaborate,” said Kristin Ehrgood, president of the Flamboyan Foundation which leads and funds the FEP. “The FEP gives teachers and families a way to form the kind of relationships that lead to success for students.”

Teachers in the FEP attend several trainings on family engagement throughout the year and receive support from a Flamboyan coach and Family Engagement Leadership Team members at their school. Teachers in FEP schools focus their family engagement efforts on three core practices:

Relationship-building home visits where teachers get to know the family and student, discuss the family’s hopes and dreams for their child, and hear what the family expects of them;

Family and teacher academic meetings where families receive information on their child’s progress, practice activities to support learning at home, and set goals for their child;

Ongoing teacher-family communications throughout the school year.

The FEP began in 2011 with five schools and was influenced by the Sacramento-based Parent Teacher Home Visit Project. Today the FEP includes 27 schools, including 18 D.C. Public Schools and nine public charter schools. In the 2014-2015 school year, teachers conducted more than 10,000 home visits in D.C.

“This study should be read by every district serious about bringing family engagement into their core work,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “DCPS is the fastest-improving urban school district in the country, and one of the ways we are doing that is by engaging families as academic partners.”

Although there is general consensus among educational researchers that family engagement contributes to the success of students and schools, there is less agreement about what types of family engagement matter.

“These findings are a step forward in understanding the potential for improving student academic outcomes through meaningful teacher and family collaboration,” said Steven Sheldon of Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships, and the lead researcher for the study.

Many principals, teachers, and parents credit the FEP with accelerating student learning and improving relationships between families and educators.

“The FEP had a profound impact on my daughter,” said Monquia Bumpers, a parent of a student whose school participates in the FEP. “I had some health issues which made it tough for my daughter to get to school every day. Eventually her reading skills began to slip. The FEP helped me communicate better with her teachers, which led to my daughter taking responsibility for her make-up work and homework.  Her grades improved tremendously.”

The FEP is funded by the Flamboyan Foundation, D.C. Public Schools, partner charter schools, the Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Horning Family Fund, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and the U.S. Department of Education through a SOAR Act grant.

The study is available for download at www.flamboyanfoundation.org.

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