Systemic Supports for Family and Community Collaboration: Putting Research Into Practice
Supporting family and community collaboration (FCC) requires effectively bridging research into practice, yet a range of challenges can get in the way of success. The sheer volume of available research may prove overwhelming, the research may not seem clearly actionable, or educators may not receive necessary training in how to translate research to practice. Even when districts obtain evidence-based tools, educators rarely have the necessary time, training, or support to put those resources into practice. Improving the connection between FCC research and practice is critical to ensuring sustainable approaches to building partnerships between districts and families and supporting student growth.
Improving the implementation of FCC practices requires all groups—families, teachers, district administrators—to build their capacity for authentic FCC. This includes access to evidence-based training and district-wide commitments to allocating resources required to complete trainings. By working together, all key constituents can participate in reducing the disconnect between research and practice and move the field closer to supporting family and school district partnerships and student outcomes.
To make FCC research more actionable, we recommend educational leaders, pre-service education programs, and district staff:
- Teach evidence-based FCC practices during pre-service teacher training. Ensure all teachers enter the field with critical skills, including best practices in communicating and building trust with families.
- Provide in-service professional development for teachers and district staff that focuses specifically on FCC. Districts should financially support teacher participation in conferences and other development activities as well as support leaders’ development in FCC.
- Ensure educators have time to implement FCC activities in their daily practice. Districts must provide teachers with necessary coverage and time to integrate FCC into their work.
- Build caregivers’ capacity to step into leadership roles and co-design evidence-based FCC initiatives. In line with the spirit of FCC, districts should be working directly with communities and caregivers to learn and decide how best to integrate research into district practices.
This policy brief was developed as part of the FHI 360 Connected & Engaged: Supporting Family and Community Partnerships with School Districts initiative. This brief is one of a series that highlights policies, strategies, and programs that can be implemented at the local, state, or federal levels to promote successful FCC in all school districts — especially those serving students from marginalized groups and communities.
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