- University of Missouri researchers will train elementary teachers in Missouri's Jefferson City School District and Fulton Public Schools on strategies to improve communication with parents using funding from a four-year, $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, according to a press release.
- The effort is intended to alleviate tension and other roadblocks in engaging and collaborating with parents to ultimately improve interventions and achievement for at-risk students.
- Among tactics recommended by Tyler Smith, a senior research associate for the Missouri Prevention Science Institute and a staff member in Mizzou's College of Education and Human Development, are sending materials home to parents aligned with ongoing classroom learning and encouraging parents to monitor homework completion and help their children set academic goals.
The importance of improving parent communication and engagement has long been top-of-mind for educators when it comes to improving student achievement. Recent years have seen a variety of apps promise to improve these processes, as well as the recognition of the impact these efforts have on outcomes for at-risk and high-achieving students alike.
The transition to distance learning in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the greater direct role parents took in the educational process only served to further highlight the need for strong parent communication and engagement efforts.
The Mizzou project aims to address those efforts directly by providing specialized training to educators, helping them more readily address what can, in some cases, be a challenging process.
“We know from decades of research that when parents are actively engaged and involved in their child’s education, it tends to help the child across the board, whether it’s academically, behaviorally or developmentally,” Smith said in the Mizzou press release. “When families and schools are on the same page, students tend to perform better, but many teachers don’t receive direct training on how to effectively engage parents, so this grant helps fill that void.”
The effort is well-timed as schools nationwide return to full-time in-person learning this fall, with the need for proactive approaches to outreach and attention to individual students' needs being recognized in efforts to retain and attract families still wary of the pandemic.
Among strategies for fall that experts recently shared, include disseminating COVID-19 safety information, setting expectations around academic needs and expectations, providing social-emotional supports, and promoting accomplishments and connections.