Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
Family engagement
District and county boards of education can play a significant role in shaping family and school partnerships. Students benefit greatly when schools elevate families as true partners. When boards support families through thoughtful, equitable policies and programs, it encourages broader community engagement that can help to enrich student learning and optimize student success. Decades of research outline a clear need for parent and guardian involvement in a child’s educational experience. When parents and guardians are engaged, their children are more likely to succeed.

Family engagement strategies might include any or all the following characteristics:

  1. Informing: Increasing awareness of school, district and county office of education routines, activities, issues, policies, programs and performances.
  2. Educating: Providing accurate, up-to-date information to the community about current educational trends that affect the district or COE.
  3. Consulting: Seeking the views of families on important student and community issues.
  4. Involving: Actively connecting families to the decision-making process.

District and county board members should consider the following questions when evaluating or creating family engagement strategies:

  1. How does the board define what is often referred to as “parent” engagement? Can we consider a shift to “family” engagement?
  2. Which families in our community need support in advocating for their child? How can we identify the supports that these families need?
  3. Is communication parent and guardian friendly and truly two-way?
  4. How are challenges such as child care, English-language proficiency, non-traditional work hours and access to transportation being addressed?
  5. Are the cultural backgrounds of families being utilized to enrich instruction and school climate?
  6. What might make a parent or guardian feel unwelcome or uncared for at the school sites or the district office? How is this addressed?
  7. What is being done to actively build trusting relationships with families?
  8. Is staff equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to support family engagement?
  9. Is there an opportunity for feedback from all parents and guardians? If so, are we asking the right questions to truly understand the obstacles or challenges that hinder engagement with their child’s education?
  10. How did the board engage with families during the COVID-19 pandemic? What can the board do now to facilitate further communication and engagement?

Family engagement should be an ongoing conversations, as mandated by the Local Control and Accountability Plan. As board members, it is vital to recognize and celebrate the parent and guardian voice. It takes collaborative work and input from all stakeholders to ensure success for all of California’s students.

CSBA resources

Governance brief: “Six Essential School Board Roles in LCAP Implementation and Development”:

Report: The School Board Role in Creating the Conditions for Student Achievement: