Educators have long held the belief that family engagement plays a significant role in the academic success of English Learners (ELs). Additionally, EL students perform better academically and socially when their teachers and/or school leadership take time to form a strong, positive, and communicative relationship with their families. Here are some studies that examine the integral role of family engagement and the connection between the home and school settings.
A recent study titled “Portraits of Leadership for Family Engagement in Urban Schools” by Dr. Susan Auerbach goes into a great deal regarding the impact family engagement has on students in an urban school. Key findings from her study are as follows:
-Parents feel more comfortable communicating with proactive school leaders and teachers who are involved in creating activities where parents are treated as equals in the educational endeavors of their children.
-School leaders who believe in the importance of family engagement and take proactive steps to engage parents are viewed as effective, strong leaders.
-Strong school leaders were motivated to do right by students and their families because of their ethical commitment to social justice.
Another important educational researcher is Dr. Karen L. Mapp, Ed.D. Her research is based on creating and strengthening partnership among school, family, and community as a means to increase the academic achievement of students. She found that family engagement is associated with better student attendance, literacy acquisition, and secondary education attendance rates. Additionally, she has contributed to the framework for family-school partnership for the U.S. Department of Education. The 5 components of this framework are as follows:
1) Linked to Learning: District and school goals must be aligned with parents goals for their children.
2) Relational: Trusting and respectful relationships must be developed between districts, schools, staff, and families.
3) Developmental: Encourage developmental intelligence and social capital.
4) Collective/Collaborative: Focuses on learning and creating as a group, rather than individually.
5) Interactive: Encourage participants to put their skills into practice.
Lastly, scholar Dr. Nancy Hill has been conducting research on the effects of ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status on parenting behaviors and beliefs for different ethnic and racial groups. Her research explores the various ways in which parental behaviors and practices have an impact on the behavior and mental health on their children. One of her recent studies explores ways to promote academic achievement among students with lower engagement and academic decline. She discovered that parental involvement and family engagement had a strong positive correlation with academic achievement. When parents and family members were more involved with school current events, as well as encouraging and fostering educational and occupational goals, students performed better in school.
If you are interested in additional resources, visit the The Latino Family Literacy Project. For those interested in gaining a better understanding of how to encourage family engagement with families of EL students, The Latino Family Literacy Project offers webinars, seminars, and additional resources that inform teachers and school leaders about ways to communicate and engage with EL students and their families, so that they can perform better academically and socially.