Improving Outreach & Collaboration

with Families & Community

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Objectives for this Module:

Learn how to improve outreach and collaboration through communication, building partnerships and collecting and providing meaningful feedback by:
  • Understanding how your school site rates in family outreach and create a plan for improvement.
  • Learning the "Joining Process" to welcome, honor and connect with families and communities.
  • Becoming aware of your preferred communication style and discuss elements of successful communication and interaction.
  • Improving feedback methods with parents and stakeholders.

TLMS: Domain VI: Improving outreach and collaboration with families and community

National Standards for Family-School Partnerships:

Standard 1 - Welcoming all families into the school community

Standard 2 - Communicating effectively

Standard 3 - Supporting student success

Standard 6 - Collaborating with community


Your Challenge

  • How do we work together to interact, provide feedback and create opportunities to build partnerships and improve academic success for all students?

  • How do you move YOUR school to the next level of Family Outreach?

Initial Thoughts

Write down your initial thoughts on these questions to prepare your thinking for your work in this module.

  • In what ways can we build partnerships with families and communities in support of student achievement?

  • What do educators need to understand in order to effectively interact with families?

  • What are some ways to seek feedback from parents and stakeholders (two-way communication)?


Take the survey below by clicking the button. Remember your results!

What does your score mean?

Four Types of Schools

1. Fortress School - 5-8 (25%-40%)

Parents belong at home, not at school. If students don’t do well, it’s because their families don’t give them enough support. We’re already doing all we can. Our school is an oasis in a troubled community. We want to keep it that way.

(Henderson, Mapp, Johnson & Davies, 2007)

2. Come-When-We-Call-School - 9-12 (45%-60%)

Parents are welcome when we ask them, but there’s only so much they can offer. The most important thing they can do is help their kids at home. We know where to get community help if we need it.

(Henderson, Mapp, Johnson & Davies, 2007)

3. Open Door School - 13-16 (65%-80%)

Parents can be involved at our school in many ways— we’re working hard to get an even bigger turnout for our activities. When we ask the community to help, people often respond.

(Henderson, Mapp, Johnson & Davies, 2007)

4. Partnership School - 17-20 (70%-100%)

All families & communities have something great to offer—we do whatever it takes to work closely together to make sure every single student succeeds

(Henderson, Mapp, Johnson & Davies, 2007)

Compass Mapping

Based on the results of the survey, what is your existing state of the four types of schools? (Circle your answer on the compass map)

What is your desired state for your school's family and community outreach efforts? (Write down your answer on the compass map)

How will you be able to move your school to your desired state?

Print the map using the link below to complete this activity.

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Perspectives and Resources: Partnership, Interaction, and Feedback

As you move through the module, include action steps from each section on your action plan in the space provided. By the end of the module, you will have an action plan that can help move your school to the next level of family and community outreach.


“When school staff have a better understanding of their students’ home cultures, families’ parenting practices, home contexts, home crises, or significant family and community events, they can develop processes and strategies to bridge school-based and home-based activities and increase support for student learning” (Ferguson, 2008, p. 14).

"While increased family involvement is linked to improved student performance, it is not always fully understood and examined within schools. Different types of involvement may include parenting, communicating with schools, volunteering at schools, supporting learning at home, participating in school governance and decision-making, and taking part in school-community collaborations. In order to encourage and foster this comprehensive involvement with all families, school administrators and teachers must develop mutual trust, consider the different cultural attitudes some families may have towards schooling, and be diligent in reaching out." (Brewster & Railsback, 2018, n.p.)

Click the button below for participant activity.


Only four out of every ten families with school-age children in the U.S. report receiving a phone call specifically about their child from a school administrator or teacher in the preceding year (Noel, Stark, Redford and Zukerberg 2013). Among secondary school parents, 66 percent do not agree that teachers keep them informed about classroom activities, events and requirements (National School Public Relations Association, 2011). Fewer than one in four parents can name a basic milestone that their child should have learned in school over the previous year (Public Agenda 2012).

-Kraft & Rogers, 2014

Complete the directions on the communication style link below to identify your preferred communication/interaction style.

Families and Feedback

"Parents have told us that they felt respected and validated when their ideas and concerns are heard and taken seriously. Even if teachers and parents disagree over an issue, it is not a problem when both sides are willing to listen and take each other’s feedback seriously. When the teacher view prevails, parents feel that the relationship is still one of equals, because the parents’ contributions to the discussion were given equal weight and importance" (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson & Davies, 2007, Kindle location 1422).

Wrap Up

Reflect on how your action plan supports reaching your desired state for improving next steps in family and community outreach?

Some things to think about...

  • Parents need to be welcomed, honored, and connected to form partnerships that improve student achievement.

  • Positive communication is an important first step in order to effectively interact with families.

  • Giving and receiving feedback should be a fluid process between schools and families.

  • When schools and families work together to support student achievement, everyone benefits.


How did you use the module to create your action plan? Complete the module assessment below to record your thoughts and ideas for improving family and community outreach.


Please provide us with feedback, ideas, concerns, thoughts etc. on your learning within this module by clicking the button below.



The module is designed to assist teachers and educational leaders in navigating resources that will aid in parent outreach. Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, and Davies (2007) give four core beliefs to build strong partnerships between the home and school: 1. All families have dreams for their children and want what is best for them, 2. All families have the capacity to support their children’s learning, 3. Parents and school staff should be equal partners, 4. Responsibility for building and sustaining partnerships between school and home rests primarily with school staff, especially school leaders. The module, based on those four core principles, provides tools to provide outreach through the lens of partnership, interaction, and feedback to and from families. This module will help educators in learning how to develop trust and understand the families that make up their school communities in the effort to foster comprehensive involvement and improve the overall culture of the school.


Family Outreach

Community Outreach

Family and School Partnerships

Feedback between Families and Schools

Family and School Interaction

Family Outreach Action Planning

Terms of Use

The learning cycle featured in this project is based on the STAR Legacy Cycle developed by the IRIS center (2013; and based on the work of Dr. John Branford and colleagues (National Research Council, 2000).

PLM Downloadable File


Brewster, C. and Railsback, J. (2018). Building trust with schools and diverse families.

Retrieved from

Ferguson, C. (2008). School-family connection: Looking at the larger picture, a review of

current literature. Retrieved from

Henderson, A. T., Mapp K. L., Johnson, V. R., and Davies, D. (2007). Beyond the bake sale:

The essential guide to family-school partnerships. New York: The New Press

Kraft, M. A. and Dougherty, S. M. (2013). The effect of teacher–family communication on student engagement: Evidence from a randomized field experiment. Journal of

Research on Educational Effectiveness, 6(3), 199–222. Retrieved from


Mapp, K., Carver, I., Lander, J. (2017). Powerful partnerships: A teacher's guide to engaging families for student success. New York: Scholastic

National Education Association. (2008). Parent, family, community involvement in education. Retrieved from

National Education Association, (2012). The power of family school community partnerships: A training resource manual. Retrieved from

National Research Council. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (expanded edition). Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning. J. D. Bransford, A. L., Brown, A., & R. R. Cocking (Eds.), Washington, DC: National Academy Press

Stiggins, R. (1999). Assessment, student confidence and school success. Phi Delta Kappn, 81, 191-198

The Equity and Excellence Commission. (2013). For each and every child: A strategy for education, equity and excellence. Retrieved from

The IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. (2005). How people learn: Presenting the learning theory and inquiry cycle on which the IRIS Modules are built. Retrieved from [May, 20, 2018] from

Torres, K., Lee, N., and Tran, C. (2015). Building relationships, building cultures: Cultural brokering in family engagement. Retrieved from