Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Current Reality: Identify a current student issue or need that interferes with academic achievement at your school. Cite data that supports the need. This could be data that relates to academic achievement, student attendance, discipline, or other sources. Look at trends of data and disaggregated data, where available.
One academic need our district has been working on is improving writing scores across the district.  On the 2012 STAAR test, the fourth grade writing scores were below state average (67%) while the math and reading scores were at or above state average.  The writing scores in fourth grade the two previous years were also lower than the math and reading.  (Writing scores in the seventh grade, while above state average, were the lowest score for that grade level.)
After surveying elementary teachers, the consensus seems to be that not enough time is devoted to writing in grades K-4.  A significant amount of class time is devoted to reading and math.  Home support for math and reading in the lower grades seems to be available while parents feel somewhat unsure of how to support students in the area of writing.  The teachers feel more time needs to be devoted to writing both at school and at home.
Of course class time is limited, so it seems important to get the parents involved at home.  This means parents need to feel equipped to help students in this area.  I am proposing a “Family Writing Day” each six weeks to support parents and encourage writing. 
On this day, the elementary classrooms would invite parents to the school to participate in a writing activity.  This could be during the school day one six weeks and after school or later in the evening the next.   The classroom would have students’ work samples on display, and parents could see how their child was doing.  As part of the event, the students and parents will complete a writing project together.  This will allow the teachers to model how the parents can teach and help their child at home.  At the end of the event, the teachers will share with parents the writing skills they will be working on the next 6 weeks and provide the parents with take home packets to use at home for extra practice. 

Vision: How will the family-school-community partnership that you are proposing resolve the issue by meeting the demonstrated need, and how will it support student achievement?
The Family Writing Day will allow parents the opportunity to come into the classroom and see how their child is doing.  It will give them a look at the writing expectations for their child and give them a chance to support their child in the classroom.   The parents will also be given materials to use at home to further encourage writing practice with their child.  
The Family Writing Day will also give the parent a sense of belonging in the school community and in turn hopefully help them see that they are an important part of their child’s academic growth. By encouraging and supporting the teacher through follow up activities at home, the child will see home and school united and working together to support his/her education. 

With the school and home united to do their part to help in the efforts of writing, scores and academic achievement should improve.

Week 2 Assignment, Part 2: Initial Partnership Proposal
The first step in establishing either a new family-school-community partnership, or strengthening an existing one, is to clearly articulate your idea. While your idea will probably evolve as stakeholders contribute their perspectives, you will use this assignment to solidify your initial concept.
To complete this assignment, fill out the chart.
Describe the need for the new or improved school-community partnership. Summarize the strategies/ activities you are recommending.
There is a need to improve in the area of writing in the district, and time spent on writing needs to increase both at school and at home.  Parents need resources and support to enable them to help at home. 

I am proposing that the elementary classrooms from K-4 have a “Family Writing Day” each six weeks and invite the parents to school on this day to participate in an activity with the children. This would allow the parents the opportunity to participate directly in the classroom and see how their child is doing.  The parents and the students could work together on a writing activity as the teacher models the way to help students through the writing process.  At the end of the event, the teacher would explain to the parents the expectations for the student the next six weeks.  She would provide parents with materials to take home to help students with the writing process at home.    

Reference the research that supports the strategies/ activities you are recommending.
Research done by James Comer (1996) in implementing the School Development Plan and Epstein’s Six Types of Involvement (1997) suggest there is a strong connection between school climate and family involvement.  When the parents feel invited and welcome in a school they are more likely to participate in events and support the learning process at home.  Epstein also points out that when parents feel equipped to help students at home, they are more likely to support their children academically.  When students are supported at home academically, they will perform better at school.

This program recognizes that family involvement in the school and support for parents as they work with their child at home can lead to increase academic success for the child.  This program invites parents into the classroom and includes them in all activities.  They will be able to interact with the teacher, as well as other parents in the school.  This will give them a connection to the school and a sense of belonging.  They are a partner in this classroom, not a visitor.  This type of activity in schools definitely helps create a warm and welcoming school climate.  A school environment that parents feel welcome and accepted in leads to more involvement from parents.  The result is more support for the teacher.  The relationship is reciprocal as pointed out and supported by Epstein.

The program will also give parents an understanding of what the writing expectations are for their child.  They will be able to participate in an activity that will show them what their child does in class, and parents will be able to help their child through the activity with the teacher acting as a model.  This will empower parents and give them confidence in helping their child at home.  At the end of the day or activity, the teachers will meet with the parents to share the writing goals for the upcoming 6 weeks.  The parents will be given writing resources that can be used at home to encourage writing practice.

Compose three or more measurable goals for the school-community partnership.
Goals for this activity will include the following:

1.  Attendance at the Writing Day activity will increase each 6 weeks and all parents that do not attend will be contacted and given the “Take Home” resource packets.
2.  The Family Writing Day will take place at least 5 of the 6 six weeks.
3.  At least two of the Family Writing Day activities will take place after school hours so that parents who work may attend.
4.  STAAR writing test scores will improve and exceed state averages.

How will the school-community partnership increase student achievement?
This Family Writing Day will encourage parents to become an active part of their child’s education, specifically in the area of writing.  Through this activity parents will gain insight into the writing process and where their child should be performing.  They will be given resources to support the child at home.  Feeling equipped and a part of the process, the parents are more likely to encourage writing practice at home.

With the extra support at home and a strong focus at school through the “Family Writing Day, the students’ writing scores on the STAAR test will improve and academically the students will feel more confident in the area of writing. 

Identify the school-community partnership’s stakeholders.
Stakeholders for this School-Community Partnership are the following:
-Parents and other family members
-Educators (Teachers and other school employees and leaders)

What are the steps to approval and implementation of the partnership? What are possible sources of funding?
To begin this program:
1.  Document the academic need for improvement in writing and get principal’s approval to have the “Writing Day” activity.
2.  Meet with teachers to share information on the program and get their input on activities that could be built around the writing day.   
3.  Contact the PTSO and share the idea of the program with them.  Get feedback from them in terms of ways to share information with the parents.  Ask for financial support if resources are available and needed.  Have the teachers here for this meeting so that teachers and parents could collaborate on the best way to make this group work.  Decide on the best time for activities based on students’ needs in the classroom and parents’ schedules.
4.  Get principals approval of the dates and put on school calendar.
5.  Teachers will need to meet to compile resources for parents that will be needed to support students for each six weeks.
6.  Information will be sent home to parents about the writing and the events will be listed on the school calendar.  Information could also be put on website.

What resources are required for the partnership?
Writing resources and activities are the main thing required to hold this “Family Writing Day” activity.  The teachers have many online resources that could be shared as well as books and activities that they have used in the past.  Depending on the activities the teachers decide on, there may be supplies for the activities each 6 weeks.  Parents could sign up to help with supplies needed. 

How will you market your school-community partnership idea?
Marketing this activity could include the following:
1.  Flyers could be made and sent home to parents.
2.  Information could be posted on the website and on the banner outside the school.
3.  Poster could be made and put around the school.
4.  Word of mouth
5.  PTSO could advertise in their newsletter.
6.  Class newsletter could include information about the activity.

How will you evaluate your partnership’s outcomes?
The “Writing Day” activities should help parents feel more confident in helping their child with writing.  A parent survey at the end of the year will help evaluate how the families feel about this activity and the support it provides them. Also, parental involvement/attendance will be one tool to evaluate the program.

Teacher’s input on how well the activities support the writing process in class will be valuable.  Ultimately, the goal will be to see writing scores go up on the STAAR test and the overall writing ability of the students to improve. 

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