Skip to main content

EdTrust releases research and recommendations on how schools can improve interactions with families to better support students

EdTrust, Press Release

In recent years, the “parents’ rights” movement has been employed by a vocal minority on the right to allow extremists to limit curriculum and books in classrooms, pitting parents against teachers and limiting instruction in ways that harm students from groups long underserved by America’s public schools.
On Thursday, EdTrust released three reports on family engagement that lays out a different vision for families to be involved with their schools in a way that, contrary to those extremists, lifts up authentic, culturally responsive family engagement as a way to support students’ academic growth and overall wellbeing. 

The reports cover a diverse range of family engagement topics, including 1) a survey of parents’ perceptions of how schools engage with them post-pandemic; 2) changes policymakers at all levels can make to improve family and community engagement; and 3) improvements in how results of federally required annual assessments are shared with families.
“Family engagement is a strategy to strengthen and unify communities and schools to support all students. As many students continue to need additional support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that schools build trust between educators and families and remove barriers to meaningful engagement with families. This strategy has shown to boost students’ test scores, graduation rates, and other academic outcomes, as well as measures of mental health,” said Allison Rose Socol, Ph.D., vice president for P-12 policy, research, and practice at EdTrust. “Family engagement is crucial to student success, and leaders at all levels should do more to support this important work.”
The first report, “Engaging First: Supporting young learners through family engagement,” is based on two nationally representative surveys, including 600 parents or caregivers of children in first or second grade in the 2022-23 school year, and 300 teachers of the same grade. 

While respondents said their communication with schools was positive overall, there was significant room for growth: only 2 out of 3 parents reported their child’s school offered parent-teacher conferences, and parents from low-income or multilingual backgrounds were more likely to say they had a bad experience with their child’s school, or that staff was not welcoming.
The second report, “Making Assessment Reports More Meaningful for Students & Families,” offers guidance on how schools can better communicate the results of students’ federally required annual tests so parents can be better informed about how their students are doing in school and work with educators to get appropriate supports.
“Grades are the holy grail for parents. Given eighty percent of parents report their children get all B's or above, it isn't surprising that nine in ten believe their child is on grade level, despite the sobering reality,” said Bibb Hubbard, founder & president of Learning Heroes. “While too often sidelined, parents make all the difference in learning recovery. As a community of education leaders and advocates, it's time to support policies and practices to help parents go beyond grades when evaluating whether their child is on grade level. Annual state exams are one important data point to factor in, along with partnering up with teachers, and gaining access to results from diagnostic assessments given throughout the year.”
The final report, “How Student, Family, and Community Engagement Impacts Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD),” discusses how schools can better communicate with families, caregivers, and communities to support students’ academic development and overall wellbeing, the numerous barriers that can get in the way of such engagement, and offers recommendations for federal, state and local policymakers to help schools improve the ways in which they respond to their community’s needs.
“Caregivers and educators are united in working together to best serve students” said Augustus Mays, vice president for partnerships and engagement at EdTrust. “They believe family engagement and equity are essential for student success and want honest conversations about academic performance and to focus on students' social and emotional well-being. Let's bring parents and teachers together, not pull them apart.”
More information, including all three reports, highlights of recommendations for policymakers, and an example assessment report, is available online. 

EdTrust is committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in the American education system. Through our research and advocacy, EdTrust improves equity in education from preschool through college, engages diverse communities dedicated to education equity and justice, and increases political and public will to build an education system where students will thrive. Learn more at

Publisher's note: A free press is critical to having well-informed voters and citizens. While some news organizations opt for paid websites or costly paywalls, The Highland County Press has maintained a free newspaper and website for the last 25 years for our community. If you would like to contribute to this service, it would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be made to: The Highland County Press, P.O. Box 849, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. Please include "for website" on the memo line.