In the college readiness world, parents and guardians play a critical role in determining their children’s success. We know that parents and families who are not engaged in college and career readiness planning through relevant, culturally and linguistically responsive supports are often less able to successfully guide their students to access and navigate postsecondary systems. Yet, too often parents and guardians are not given the tools and resources they need to participate in their students’ readiness development or to create informed connections to the postsecondary pathway. The practice of family engagement seeks to break down barriers that prevent families from meaningful involvement in their students’ education and bring educators and communities together in meaningful ways to support overall student success. While family engagement has been a best practice implemented in early and elementary education, it is a relatively new promising practice nationally in the postsecondary readiness space.
What is Family Engagement in Postsecondary Readiness?
Engaging families is more than just communicating with them about their child and sharing information about the value and importance of college. Family engagement is the practice of meaningfully involving families in a child’s postsecondary and career path planning and establishing genuine school-family connections with students’ communities and cultures to better enhance the college-going culture among all those who impact a student’s success as they prepare for postsecondary education. In better understanding the needs and concerns of our students’ families and communities, schools are in a better position to support student achievement and success.
Regional Postsecondary Readiness Family Engagement
PSCCN strives to ensure that families across our region have the information and tools they need to make informed decisions about postsecondary education. In the Puget Sound region, several districts have begun to look more closely at family engagement as an effective and integrated strategy to support student success from cradle to career. Implementation of family engagement strategies in the postsecondary readiness space has included a variety of in-reach and outreach techniques intended to involve and educate families at times when they are already at the school building for events such as registration, parent-teacher conferences or athletics; at out-of-school locations they may regularly access such as faith and community spaces and social services programs; and through expanded communication such as text messaging. If you have questions or would like to share more about promising and meaningful family engagement strategies in your district, please contact PSCCN.
In 2018, PSCCN broadcasted a weekly Spanish radio program on Radio Luz-AM Radio 1680 sharing information and taking calls from the public on a range of financial aid and college knowledge topics to model and share family messages about college access. Priority topics include financial aid, myth-busting, and where families can turn for resources in their community. Through this campaign, PSCCN sought to increase Spanish-speaking communities’ awareness of college knowledge and college financial aid. Radio segments and Spanish-language resources are available at psccn.org/familias
PSCCN created a workshop to support the financial aid completion efforts happening in the Road Map region. This workshop covers the basic details of financial aid in Washington State and importing things adults need to know when communicating about financial aid to students and families. The target audiences are family liaisons, bilingual paraeducators, school administrators and anyone new to financial aid work.
We have have been able to provide this workshop to a couple of districts in the Road Map Region. During workshops with our districts, we have been able to look at effective strategies for financial aid completion happening in our region.
Regional Work & Resources
- PSCCN Spanish Media Campaign Summary
- Kent School District Parent Academy for Student Achievement
- Kent School District College Bound Conference for Families and Students
- Beyond Random Acts: Family, School, and Community Engagement as an Integral Part of Education Reform – The National Policy Forum for Family, School and Community Engagement
- Family Engagement Toolkit – GEAR UP NC Appalachian Partnership