Department of Education Releases New Parent and Community Engagement Framework

The fourth quarter of the school year is generally a time of preparation for schools and districts as they finalize next year’s budget, student and teacher schedules, and professional development for the upcoming school year. During this time of preparation, it is important that schools and districts discuss ways that they can support parents and the community in helping students to achieve success.

fce-framework graphicTo help in this work, the U.S. Department of Education is proud to release a framework for schools and the broader communities they serve to build parent and community engagement. Across the country, less than a quarter of residents are 18 years old or younger, and all of us have a responsibility for helping our schools succeed. The Dual Capacity framework, a process used to teach school and district staff to effectively engage parents and for parents to work successfully with the schools to increase student achievement, provides a model that schools and districts can use to build the type of effective community engagement that will make schools the center of our communities.

An example of how the elements of the framework can lead to improved engagement is exhibited in my hometown of Baltimore. Baltimore City Public Schools worked to support 12,000 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten homes, and to engage families in home-based literacy practices. Each week students received a different bag filled with award-winning children’s books, exposing children, on average, to more than 100 books per year. The book rotation also includes parent training and information on how to share books effectively to promote children’s early literacy skills and nurture a love of learning. Through the program, families are also connected with their local public and school libraries. At the culmination of the program, children receive a permanent bag to keep and continue the practice of borrowing books and building a lifelong habit of reading.

For more information on the Dual Capacity Framework, as well as an introductory video from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, please take some time and review our website at In the coming months, we will provided additional resources and information, so that schools, districts, communities, and parents can learn more about family and community engagement, as well as, share the wonderful work they are doing to build parent, school, and community capacity that supports all students.

Read a Spanish version of this post.

Jonathan Brice is deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education


  1. This framework looks great on paper. I applaud DOE for acknowledging that parent/community engagement is paramount for student achievement especially in urban and rural areas. However an integrated program is needed to focus on increasing the efficacy of parents as leaders. Too often schools create policies and programs and then attempt to sell the idea to parents instead of working with parents to develop and implement the policy or program. real change can only take place when the stakeholders get passionate about making a change.

  2. In one of my Education Courses I had the oppertunity to visit a Dual Language Head Start program and we were assigned to make a literacy bag for the children to take home to their families. I think it is a great way to get parents involved and help them to learn more about reading to their children. I only just learned about the program but my professors say that it has been a big success with the children and families. When my classmates and I brought in the bags and read to the children they were really excitied about being able to bring the materials home and show their parents.

  3. Mmm…every comment is carefully crafted, very similar to other comments I’ve been reading in the Seattle Times Education Blog financed and run by the Gates Foundation. Family/School collaboration is taught in every education program and is basic knowledge in schools; what is this thinkly veiled ploy you’re trying pull off?

    You really have partnered with the Gates Foundation and other monetizing education entities. I just hope there are people in government that care enough about the integrity of our democracy to stop what’s going on.

    Thanks for given the Gates Foundation $40 million dollars of American’s money so he can develop his “Reform” pilot project. You’re not even trying to cover things up well at this point.

  4. This looks good but besides creating a “welcoming culture”, there needs to be cultural competency, including bilingual meetings when necessary. In addition, opportunities for parental involvement need to have the flexibility to accommodate working families, get rid of the notion that mothers are still at home, and involve fathers as well.

  5. This framework is useful. It does not include the critical component of parent LEADERSHIP in shaping policies, procedures, and programs. Parent voice is not only important on the ground with their individual child, but also at the school, district, state and national level. That is missing from this framework. It is critical that now the US Department of Education provide the funding needed to strengthen parent capacity and leadership at all levels. Schools, districts and states do not know how to – and are often not really committed to – empowering families. Reinstate competitive grants to Parent Information Resource Centers, and this time require that the grants go to organizations that are family-centered and parent-led!

  6. This sounds great and hopefully, it has been compiled using teacher, Title I parent and school-level input. It is nice to see the USDOE acknowledge how critical parent involvement is. Perhaps, they will begin recognizing the obstacles our families in Title I schools face and help educate the whole child and not just the testing child.

  7. Building capacity for staff and parents hits the mark! Would love to see higher ed teacher programs adopt the framework.

  8. This is indeed the golden key to re-shaping the cultural of our educational system. Parents should be the first partakers in this collaborative movement of change that our nation needs to once again become the leaders in education! Thank you!

  9. I was so excited to be present when this framework was unveiled to the public and explained to the conference attendees. It makes sense that active and productive family engagement is directly linked to successful student achievement. This framework gives us step by step on how to achieve that goal. Parents are experts on their children and teachers are experts on educating. When you marry the two, the outcomes are outstanding!

  10. Effective, appropriate family engagement is critical to ensure student success, especially for the immigrant/English language learner/Latino population, the fastest-growing segments of the US student population. The families of these students, who are often academically at risk, are often not engaged in their child’s education due to a number of factors, which my colleague and I have been examining. This framework is an important blueprint; now we need to work directly with school districts and families to develop effective communication and engagement between families and their children’s school, and with their children to support them academically at home. We are committed to doing this for immigrant and ELL families.

    • Analyzing the root causes of why parents have not engaged in their children learning is critical to making this work. Books not being sent home is a simple solvent to a multi factor cause. I’m one of those parents that has not being consistently engaged in my child’s education. To have the mental capacity after working full time to assist not only kindergarten age children but also elementary, and middle school, it’s a challenge. The children no longer bring home books for studying, the method of learning how to problem solve is different from when I was growing up. I’m 41 years old, when I was in elementary I learned from my teacher. My parents didn’t have to help me with my work, it was taking care of at school. It was sufficient. Now children need full day of school plus the assistance from their parents to suceed. I’m not a supermom, but it brother the hell out me that I don’t have the energy left after I come home from work to help my 5th grader. I’ve thought about entering into the education field as partnering up with the school community and engaging in my childrens education. I am reality, I am a factor in the education systems for which a child has no control over yet depends on for success. I’m struggling with this. I wish funding for my job at Veteran Affairs in Logistics can be transferred to the local school where I can be employed. I’ll keep at it, I won’t give up. But remember, I’m a reality. Parent exhausted after coming home from work and also responsibile for engaging in their child’s education, in what way can the Education Department assist other than sending home more paperwork to read and comprehend.

  11. Wonderful Family Engagement Conference! Great opportunities to learn the latest and share thoughts/ask questions. This framework should help us move forward with an effort we’ve been talking about for years.

  12. To Whomsoever It May Concern:

    Commendations to the US Department of Education and to its Secretary,
    Arne Duncan, for having the vision to contract out to Harvard University
    for the development of a real eclectic framework that’s designed for Parents and Community Engagement. Hopefully, this high-powered blueprint can now serve as a matrix that would include neighborhood based churches. Religious institutions located in struggling neighborhoods and target communities in many cases for the last 25-75 years and are still afloat!

    Surely, religious denominational organizations are a permanent fixture of the American landscape and they are rescue sanctuaries fixture in the urban inner city. Historically, as viable institutions, they were never viewed as a pivotal player in LBJ’s War on Poverty, and because of that grave error the federal government lost the war. Why did they lose
    a war that MLK, Jr., and others of the US Civil Rights Establishment wanted them to win?

    Again; they, and by virtue of association. Did not do a good enough job at enlisting faith organizations at the grassroots level. How much did ingrained attitudes about race & class play in this great misfortune? Analytically, there was no other moral institution at this level of the malaise. That would pick up the cudgel and lead the cultural revolution. A clarion call did not reach out to all of the land even though the President declared War on Poverty. But; it was drowned out by a more real war that the media cared to promote and that was the Vietnam Conflict.

    So, there was serious underfunding right from the beginning and Sergeant Schriver, the first OEO Director, and in-law of the former
    President JFK said so! So there was a lack of trust in these anti-poverty programs and the American youth was very vocal as a new generation of civil rights advocates came upon the scene in the form of Black Panthers, The Weathermen, and SDS.

    Also, around this same time, the Republic of New Africa (RNA) resurrected the call for reparations, echoing the civil war promise
    to freed bondsmen about “40 Acres & Mule”. The bill of rights addditions as found in the 13th, 14th, and 15 Amendments are still not fully complied with. And now were faced the eventual implementation of a national framework that calls for Parent/Community Engagement. Knowing all of the sensitive history that was elucidated has to mean something to those state departments of education, county office of education, and local school districts as they march out to implement the Initiative. Will they be successful. I believe that will be but the Black Church has to play a fundamental and formidable role in the entire effort or as prophesy can come true we’ve accelerated our travel speed to the final destination of End Times! A permanent outreach has to come out of this should be a basic tenet of the Reauthorized No Child Left Behind Act (P. L. 107-110). Otherwise, if we’re not totally dedicated toward upward
    mobility being integrated tightly with ideas of expanding the integration
    of the mainstream by seriously decreasing poverty inside of the USA by at least ( 50-75%) then we’re just wasting time and whistling dixie!

  13. While this is a start and the work of Karen Mapp comes with a lot of exeprience and credibility, don’t forget that this is an Administration that gutted the Parent Information and Resource Centers (PIRCs), cut over $40 million per year for that program, rendered the Parent Right to Know provisions of NCLB meaningless because ED supported a policy that allowed any novice or teachers in training (most teaching low income and special needs children) to be called highly qualified (HQT), and rarely enforced the current parent involvement rights as contained on Section 1118 of NCLB.. Right now, many Title I parents are battling to keep their schools open and improved rather then closed, trying to opt out of tests they don’t want their children exposed to, have teachers who are inexperienced according to the most recent Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Report, and find their local school budgets and supports cut to the bone. After not having a strong parental involvement policy since 2008, ED has releasaed this framework, while looking great, requires the full force of the federal government to provide the resources and build the school capacity to implement the framework. I am hoping the ED finds this relationship building so important that they will put the same resources, techical assistance, intensity and enforcement as they do in high consequences testing and charter schools. Remember, frameworks are not policies or practices until implemented. As we celebrate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 today, let’s have the courage of President Johnson to provide civil rights to parents who have little voice and ;little access. Empower parents through US Deaprtment of Education advocacy.

  14. I’m pleased to see that the importance of EFFECTIVE family, school and community partnerships is being highlighted. Educators must be mindful that they DO need assistance from family and community members to fully educate students. Thank you for providing a framework that makes sense.

  15. Thanks for realizing that home and school are one. The educational system need to make the parents feel that their active involvement is important to a better school system.

  16. I believe this is critical to ncreasing achievement for African and Hispanic males in urban school districts. Poverty and mobility are constant challenges for engaging parents for their sons’ academic success. The institution of public education has not been a welcoming environment for socioeconomic disadvantaged parents and their students.

  17. Parents are a critical part of a child’s education. I appreciate this framework and hope to see it applied across many school districts. The achievement gap doesn’t start at school. It starts prior to school. (K)

  18. Education should be parent and community prime concern not school one, since learners mostly spend their life time not in the school time

  19. This is fantastic. Parent engagement, and healthy parent / community to school relationships must grow for our students to learn and be prepared to live and prosper in the 21st century. Learning for children is a 24/7 endeavor, and for that to happen teachers, parents, and communities must work together. Thank you for this framework!

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