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Family Engagement Assessment results in

Parents and their students talk to a teacher at Talent Elementary School.

Dear PTS families,

Earlier this school year, the family engagement experts at Scholastic conducted a comprehensive Family Engagement Assessment of the Phoenix-Talent School District whose goal was to provide a 360-degree view of family engagement in our schools.

The assessment included a physical walkthrough of each school, a review of printed materials, a review of each school’s website and parent portal, “secret shopper” calls, a survey of the building administrators, a survey of school staff members and a survey of families. 

Scholastic collected 926 surveys – 755 from families and 171 from PTS staff members. It then analyzed all the data to produce a report that included ratings, commendations and recommendations in four different goal areas: welcoming, communication, information and empowerment.

Results showed that most PTS families feel good about their school, are comfortable communicating with their child’s teacher and feel that school personnel are friendly. According to the survey results, families also feel that their school’s staff respond to them promptly and believe they understand the information the school provides about their child’s learning. 

The assessment also showed that PTS should implement more two-way communication strategies to provide opportunities for families to question, provide feedback, offer comments and suggestions, and practice new skills and strategies.

On a scale that had a maximum score of 3.0 and a minimum score of 1.0, PTS was rated 2.63 in “Welcoming,” 2.39 in “Communication,” 2.09 in “Empowerment” and 1.86 in “Information.” The numbers meant that PTS was classified as “Emerging” (2.00 to 2.74) in three out of four categories in Scholastic’s three-level rating system, which also includes “High Quality” (2.75 to 3.00) and “Low Quality” (1.00 to 1.99).

The assessment also analyzed how staff and families feel about the four core beliefs about family engagement identified by Dr. Karen Mapp and Anne Henderson. In their book “Beyond the Bake Sale,” Mapp and Henderson pinpointed four core beliefs they determined are essential to successful family engagement efforts:

  1. All families have dreams for their children and want the best for them.
  2. All families have the capacity to support their children’s learning.
  3. Families and school staff should be equal partners.
  4. The responsibility for building partnerships between school and home rests primarily with school staff, especially school leaders.

The surveys that were part of the assessment included questions asking parents and staff members how much they agreed with these four core beliefs. The resulting scores, which were tabulated on a 1.0 to 4.0 scale, indicated that families and staff were virtually identical on core belief 3 (equal partners), close on core beliefs 1 (hopes and dreams) and 2 (parents have capacity) and showed the biggest gap on 4 (school goes first), with staff agreeing at a higher rate than parents.

Both parents and staff scored 2.75 or higher in all four categories. A score of 2.50 indicates that half of the respondents “agree” with the statement and the other half “disagree” with the statement, while a score of 3.10 or higher means that approximately 80% of the respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement. 

PTS families scored 3.60 on core belief 1, 3.55 on core belief 3, 3.15 on core belief 2 and 2.85 on core belief 4. PTS staff scored 3.60 on core belief 1, 3.54 on core belief 3, 3.15 on core belief 2 and 2.85 on core belief 4.

It is encouraging that the numbers indicate that our family engagement efforts are already positively impacting most of our families and that PTS families and staff are on the same page regarding the crucial role that family engagement plays in our schools. The assessment also taught us a great deal about areas in which we can improve, and steps are already being taken to do so.

Thank you to all those who participated in the surveys. We promise that we will do our very best to use the results of the assessment to make our family engagement practices better than ever. Our staff believes strongly that effective family-school partnerships are essential to a successful education and that strengthening those partnerships will greatly help PTS Rising to achieve its vision: “Together, we shall meet the challenges of preparing responsible, creative, lifelong learners.”