• Leah Ersoylu for NMUSD

Parent Engagement is Key to Student Success: We Can Do Better

Updated: Apr 17

The Data

We instinctively know that parent engagement impacts student outcomes. Many studies have demonstrated this-- regardless of socio-economic status, students with involved parents are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, and attend school regularly. Moreover, when schools and parents have well-developed partnerships, outcomes improve for all students at the school!

  • National Coalition for Parent Involvement in education. 2006. Research Review and Resources. Retrieved September 16, 2011, from

  • Henderson, A.T., and K.L. Mapp. 2002. A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

  • National PTA. 2000. Building Successful Partnerships: A Guide for Developing Parent and Family Involvement Programs. Bloomington, Indiana: National Education Service, 11–12.

  • Henderson, A.T., and Nancy Berla. 1995. A New Generation of Evidence: The Family Is Critical to Student Achievement. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Education, 14–16.

The NMUSD Reality

Given what we know from this research, we must continue to work together to improve engagement in NMUSD if we truly want an excellent school district. I have been a passionate advocate for community engagement throughout my career (book chapter), and and commented on it in an op-ed (here).

I applauded the Board's decision in late 2019 to reinstate public comment to the beginning of NMUSD School Board meetings, however, parent engagement "logistics" remain an area for improvement. Districtwide, from a parent perspective, the planning and calendaring of major meetings and events does not seem to be a focal point. For instance, just recently I was informed that two of the largest District meetings, the Human Relations Task Force (HRTF) and the District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) meetings are to be held on the same evening, at the same time each month. If we truly want parent participation, meetings would be calendared in a way to allow for meaningful engagement. We can do better.

For instance, the District could create a Master Calendar, with a lens toward parent engagement. This is done in planning and management all.the.time. For example, the District could set 2 weeks per month where they hold all District meetings-- this should include anything where they would like parents to engage at the District level (DELAC, HRFT, Wellness Committee, Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee, etc). Then, the District informs all schools that they suggest all school-site meetings (PTA, ELAC and Foundation, etc) are held during the other 2 weeks (or something to that effect). Clear calendaring and communication is proven to maximize participation.

In addition, I am curious to see how they will improve upon their "virtual Board meetings" to ensure meaningful parent participation during the time we are social distancing and the schools are closed. During the first online meeting, participation was capped and many parents (myself included) were unable to log on. However, I know this is an evolving situation and I have higher hopes for this next Board meeting! Fingers crossed! I'll be sure to keep you posted here...

If we truly want the system to engage parents, we need to design the system to make engagement the simple choice for busy parents.



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