Strengthening Commitment and Values

School district staff who demonstrate a meaningful commitment to authentic family and community collaboration (FCC) are more likely to achieve meaningful family partnerships. Leadership should make it a continuous priority to building relationships with families and community organizations — especially with districts’ most marginalized groups.  

All district staff must value FCC as a critical component of their mission as educators and buy in to district-wide goals to sustain FCC over time. According to the literature and our own research, families and districts can only effectively work together to advance student outcomes when this commitment is in place.  

Barriers to strengthening commitment and valuing collaboration

Oftentimes, leaders are very removed from their students. I think accessibility is really critical. As the school leader… that’s something you just learn over time, but also you have to have that mindset. You have to be willing to engage. Principal

Throughout our interviews, community stakeholders shared that district leaders rarely championed FCC or integrated FCC throughout district policies and practice. Districts often lack consistent and committed leadership and thus struggle to create long-lasting, sustainable FCC efforts. Barriers to committing to and valuing FCC include:  

  • District staff do not value family and community input because they do not believe families and communities have expertise to support student outcomes.  
  • District staff do not understand the importance of culturally responsive practices or know how to integrate culturally responsive practice throughout the district.  
  • Engagement efforts are sporadic or short-term due to competing priorities or other constraints.  

What strategies can districts use to demonstrate their commitment to and value of FCC?

Through our work, we found evidence-based strategies that help district leadership send a message to families, community members and external organizations that they care about and are willing to sustain this work long-term. When the leadership focuses on establishing these types of relationships and collaborative partnerships, the whole community can more effectively support district initiatives for student success. Below we provide aligned resources with these strategies to support best practices. For more research and resources, check out the Resource Library. 


Examples, Tools and Strategies
Strategies Aligned Resources

Address mindsets 

Insist that all district staff value families and community groups as experts and contributors to children’s learning. 

Read this profile of Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District to learn how districts can insist that families and community members are a part of their district-led task forces and committees.  

Try out the Conversation Starter Tools that provide guidance on how to help families and schools reach a shared understanding of what good education looks like in the specific context of each school district. 

Module 1 of the National Families Learning Equity in Family Engagement Toolkit provides educators with an introduction to equity that improves their understanding of equity and how it relates to FCC.

Make FCC a high priority and business as usual 

Integrate FCC as an essential and ongoing component of district actions, rather than treating it as an “add-on” or “extra.” Allocate the necessary leadership roles, time and financial resources to manage and enact FCC initiatives.  

In the Equitable Collaboration Report, view strategies to strengthen family engagement are outlined by general recommendations first and then specific recommendations tailored to district, schools, and impact initiatives.  

Check out Colorado’s Family, School, and Community Partnerships P-12 Framework User’s Guide that offers an assessment rubric (pp. 19-21) and reflection questions (p. 27) to help districts understand their current resource capacity and plan for improvements. 

Establish FCC standards  

Create district-wide FCC standards that reflect the district context and priorities. Train staff on these standards and hold everyone accountable to uphold them. 

In this functional Family, School, and Community Partnerships: P-12 Framework: User’s Guide a self-check rubric is included to identify current levels of engagement with family and community partners. In addition, the rubric aims to discuss next steps to create more equitable programs.

Demonstrate commitment in all actions 

Highlight the importance of multiple perspectives within all district-supported activities, including communication with community members, data collection, and hiring processes.

Use the Flamboyan Foundation Family Engagement Tool to assess your outcomes and practices. Consider this as a starting place for determining where your district should consider adding new practices in conjunction with other practitioners. 

Districts can take every opportunity to celebrate success and demonstrate their commitment to highlighting the importance of families. See how EdNavigator created congratulations packets to support FCC.  

Continue learning

Browse resources on this topic in the resource library.