Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District 11:
Coon Rapids, Minnesota
This school district has a very successful partnership program. In 1998-99, nearly 7,000 parents volunteered in the district in various projects and programs. The district's Web site includes information to help parents supervise homework and read to their children, as well as a page that assesses a student's learning style. Anoka-Hennepin is a district member of the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University.
Vineland Public Schools
Vineland, New Jersey
An elementary school in this district, Max Leuchter Elementary, was chosen by WORKING MOTHER magazine as a school that "works for families." The district uses TIPS interactive homework (see "How can connecting schools and communities help teachers with lesson planning?") and has an active Parent Resource Center. The "Archives Alive" program records community history and includes information about local historical sites. Max Leuchter is a school member of the National Network of Partnership Schools.
Northland Pines School District
Eagle River, Wisconsin
Schools in this district offer parent hotlines that give information about homework, classwork, and special events for each class. Some classes have their own Web pages on which they describe science experiments and other projects. The schools' calendars are online and include links to sites relevant to the day's lessons and events. Wisconsin is a state member of the National Network of Partnership Schools.
Ysleta Independent School District
El Paso, Texas
This district was formerly one of Texas's "low performing" districts. When parents and educators worked to develop a program of higher standards and other reforms, the school became the first urban district in Texas to be "recognized" for its massive improvement on statewide standardized tests. The Web site features a "parent involvement" section, as well as links to educational resources and an overview of the district's activities. Texas is a state member of the National Network of Partnership Schools.
There are also a number of community-based organizations where citizens have become actively involved in the reform of their schools. These include:
Right Question Project
The Right Question Project (RQP) is an organization that helps traditionally disengaged people build skills to get involved in issues that affect them. Its educational methodology prepares people to more effectively advocate for themselves; participate in decision-making processes pertinent to them and their families; and hold those decision-makers and decision-making processes accountable. Project areas include economic self-sufficiency, healthcare, public education, citizen participation and community building, self-advocacy and accountability, and campaign finance reform.
RQP's family involvement activities center on teaching parents to more effectively support, monitor, and advocate for their child's education. Through its Question Formulation Technique, RQP trains parents to develop critical-thinking skills and to begin engaging schools in joint problem-solving processes. This methodology has been used among parents in Rhode Island, Kentucky, New Jersey, and with the Massachusetts Parent Training and Empowerment Project.
National Coalition of Advocates for Students
The National Coalition of Advocates for Students (NCAS) is an education advocacy organization working to achieve equal access to a quality public education for students who are most vulnerable to school failure. NCAS's constituencies include low-income students; members of racial, ethnic, and/or language minority groups; recent immigrants; migrant farm workers; and those with disabilities. NCAS informs and mobilizes parents, educators, and communities working toward school improvement.
Sixteen member organizations collaborate on the Mobilization for Equity (MFE), training parents to engage in local school reform. They advocate for ten critical-equity issues including parent participation in decision-making processes. In partnership with the Florida Department of Education's Bureau of School Reform, Improvement and Accountability, NCAS operates the Florida for the Children Campaign. It provides training about the U.S. public school system to parents of limited-English proficient students and supports full implementation of the Florida language rights consent decree. Similarly, the National Asian Family/School Partnership Project brings together schools, Asian families, and Asian communities to improve the academic success of Asian students. NAFSPP works with the parents of these students and the staff of ethnic Asian CBOs to establish learning environments that support the students and the meaningful participation of their parents. The Project plans to expand to include a Trainer of Trainer Institute, a national media campaign, student assessment tool development, and community-coalition building. The Clearinghouse for Immigrant Education (CHIME) is a clearinghouse of educational issues for recent immigrants. It is intended to serve students, parents, school staff, and other community members. Counseling in Today's World -- Leading through Diversity to Achieve Excellence develops the skills of school counselors to work effectively with students and families. The School Opening Alert Campaign provides information to parents in heritage languages about U.S. public schools and immigrant students' legal rights. Publications promoting family involvement activities address parents, advocates, policymakers, practitioners, educators, and community leaders and are available in diverse languages.
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, nonpartisan organization of Kentucky parents and citizens whose mission is to give Kentuckians a voice in education reform efforts. The Prichard Committee advocates for every student's success; informs the public, legislators, governors, and other education officials; and mobilizes local parents and citizens.
In response to the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act, the Prichard Committee sponsored the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership. The Commonwealth Institute trains parents for leadership roles. Focusing on standards and assessment, projects teach parents how to use test results to improve student achievement. The Prichard Committee also convenes small groups of parents and teachers in a semistructured format, opening avenues of family-school communication, building parent involvement, and improving the child's educational outcome. Numerous publications include guidebooks on school-based decision-making and school law, a quarterly newsletter, and a monthly newspaper column. There is also a toll-free telephone line open for questions.