Students from families who participated in home visits with their teachers had better school attendance and were more likely to see improvement in reading scores, according to a School of Education study.
Steven Sheldon, an associate professor of education in the Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships, conducted the study for the Flamboyan Foundation’s Family Engage Partnership.
Sheldon’s research included 12 public elementary schools in Washington, D.C., 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 Family Engage Partnership program, 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. Also, students attending schools implementing the program more widely were associated with a greater likelihood of reading at or above grade level.
“These findings are a step forward in understanding the potential for improving student academic outcomes through meaningful teacher and family collaboration,” said Sheldon. “They suggest that educators’ strong implementation and school-wide commitment to engage families in their children’s education can benefit all students at the school.”
“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. “The FEP gives teachers and families a way to form the kind of relationships that lead to success for students.”
Teachers in the program 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 Family Engage Partnership began in 2011 with five schools. Today it comprises 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