Family-School Connection Produces Better SEL Skills

School and family partnerships are a key ingredient for social and emotional development and academic success. That’s the conclusion of a recent study in the Review of Educational Research, a journal published by the American Educational Research Association.

In the meta-analysis, researchers reviewed more than 100 studies of interventions designed to improve students’ mental health and social-emotional development through partnerships between parents and schools. The initiatives included traditional parental engagement programs, such as school conferences and homework help, but also included more targeted parental engagement programs that involved parents in problem solving, goal setting, and aspiration-focused discussions.

The most effective parent-school programs, according to the study, included:

  • Home-based programs that taught parents how to model social and behavioral skills and mental health support
  • Coordinating and training parents in behavior supports, such as positive reinforcement and goal setting
  • Frequent collaboration between teachers and parents to set goals and monitor students’ progress

School: A Portfolio of Student Opportunities

As part of the Center for Reinventing Public Education’s 25th anniversary, the organization published a collection called Thinking Forward: New Ideas for a New Era of Public Education.

The essence of the collection was to try to reimagine public education by looking ahead, in some cases several decades. For example, here’s what you might see 20 years from now, according to essays: Schools from the earliest grade level are highly customized, are focused on early intervention, and cultivate students’ individual interests and talents. Schools do whatever is required to serve the extremes, not the mean, so they enhance abilities and talents and truly motivate students.

In summation, schools might be portfolios of student opportunities, serving as curators of services and supports rather than a single source providing everything to every student.

Is It Time to Disrupt School Report Cards?

In 2018, a group of parents, educators, and representatives from nonprofit organizations and state agencies attended a workshop to develop ideas for creating more effective web-based school report cards, an event sponsored by the mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Program.

The REL Program serves Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. RELs link educators and policymakers to develop and use research to improve learning outcomes for students. The presentations focused on three areas related to the report card website—content, design, and process—and they produced these tidbits of advice:

  • Report cards can have multiple purposes. Not only do they serve as accountability devices for schools (which need to adhere to state ESSA education plan requirements), but they are also used by parents as a school finder of non-ESSA information.
  • As content is developed, the people in charge (presumably including principals) need to be careful about what and how information is conveyed so that readers aren’t misled.
  • The use of measures of academic and social-emotional learning based on test scores, attendance, and suspensions—all of which can be highly influenced by factors in students’ out-of-school environments—can be examples of misleading information on a report card.

Denver’s ProComp Model Remains Problematic Despite Recent Pact

The Denver Public Schools (DPS) teacher pay model, called ProComp, is controversial. Why? Because it includes additional pay for teachers who work in the city’s most challenging schools—a feature that is not included in many districts.

Some critics say that ProComp is unable to significantly reward genuinely great teachers and has an overly complicated structure that doles out bonuses in small doses. Supporters cite ProComp’s advances, including the pay incentive, and supporters argue that compensation is the most important item in the school district’s toolbox to get teachers into underserved areas.

Earlier this year, there was a work stoppage in the Denver Public Schools over a variety of issues, including ProComp. In the end, the Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association agreed to a short-term extension of the current ProComp agreement and to negotiate a long-term arrangement.

First approved in 2005, ProComp now provides an additional $32 million per year in teacher compensation and amounts to approximately one-tenth of the funding DPS invests in teacher compensation each year. While it may remain controversial, ProComp continues to be a driving force in Denver for the foreseeable future.

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