Countless studies demonstrate that students with parents actively involved in their education at home and school are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, enroll in higher-level programs, graduate from high school, and go on to post-secondary education. Beyond the Bake Sale shows how to form these essential partnerships and how to make them work.
Packed with tips from principals and teachers, checklists, and an invaluable resource section, Beyond the Bake Sale reveals how to build strong collaborative relationships and offers practical advice for improving interactions between parents and teachers, from insuring that PTA groups are constructive and inclusive to navigating the complex issues surrounding diversity in the classroom.
Written with candor, clarity, and humor, Beyond the Bake Sale is essential reading for teachers, parents on the front lines in public schools, and administrators and policy makers at all levels.
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Anne T. Henderson is a senior consultant with the Community Involvement Program, Annenberg Institute for School Reform. Dr. Vivian Johnson is the leading researcher on Parent/Family Centers in schools. She lives in Boston. Karen L. Mapp is a lecturer on education at Harvard and former Deputy Superintendent for Family and Community Engagement in Boston. Don Davies is the founder of the Institute for Responsive Education and Professor Emeritus at Boston University.
Why Bother to Read This Book?
In this book, we argue that partnerships among schools, families, and
community groups are not a luxury—they are a necessity. In passing the
No Child Left Behind law, Congress and the president made a promise to
our children that all will have an equal opportunity to get a high-quality
education and master high academic standards. That means all our children—no matter what language they speak, how much their families earn,
what disabilities they may have, what God they worship (if any), or what
holidays they celebrate.
Quality public education may be national and state policy, but it is not
yet a civil right. There remain tremendous disparities in funding, facilities,
and instructional resources across our sixteen thousand school districts,
and this inequity underlies the poor outcomes that the law attempts
to address. Consequently, our public schools need all the help they can
get—from parents, family members, community residents, local organizations,
and anyone else whom we can engage in children’s learning.
Demands for reform continue to mount. Federal and state action has
produced a strong move toward higher standards of achievement, increased
testing, and accountability to the public for results. There is considerable
backlash, however, especially against using high-stakes standardized tests
to hold schools liable for poor performance and to prevent students with
low scores from graduating.
While some see progress, many corporate and foundation leaders are
impatient with the pace of change. Educators and policy makers are arguing
over whether funding is adequate to meet all the new federal mandates.
Public support appears to be growing for vouchers and competition
from the private sector as the main tools for reform. We think that parents
and community members, working as partners with educators, can accomplish
change within the public sector—but this will take a new model of
working together, one that goes way beyond the bake sale.
There are five reasons why you should read this book.
1. Partnership and student academic achievement are
closely linked. Many years of research show that involving families
and the community contributes to children’s academic and social
The evidence is consistent, positive, and convincing: families have
a major influence on their children’s achievement. When schools,
families, and community groups work together to support learning,
children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like
This statement summarizes the conclusion of A New Wave of Evidence:
The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student
Achievement, the most recent and comprehensive review of the research.
Here are some key findings:
Students whose families are involved in their learning earn better
grades, enroll in higher-level programs, have higher graduation
rates, and are more likely to enroll in post-secondary
When families take an active interest in what they’re learning,
students display more positive attitudes toward school and
behave better both in and out of school.
Children do best if parents can play a variety of roles in their
learning: helping at home, volunteering at school, planning
their children’s future, and taking part in key decisions about
the school program.
Middle and high school students whose families remain involved
in these ways make better transitions, maintain the quality of
their work, develop realistic plans for the future, and are less
likely to drop out.
Children from diverse cultural backgrounds tend to do better
when families and school staff join forces to bridge the gap
between home and school cultures.
From early childhood through high school, families make key contributions
to student learning. School improvement programs are much more
effective when schools enlist families in the process. Regardless of income
level or education background, all families can—and do—support their
When parents become involved at school, they tend to become more
active in the community. Well-planned family learning and support activities
tend to increase self-confidence, so parents and family members go
on to pursue a high school diploma, additional job training, and higher
education. Knowledge is power. Well-informed parents can be more effective
and productive partners.
The more the relationship between families and the school is a real
partnership, the more student achievement increases. When schools
engage families in ways that are linked to improving learning, students
make greater gains. When families are engaged in positive ways, rather
than labeled as problems, schools can be transformed from places where
only certain students prosper to ones where all children do well.
Community groups make important contributions, too. One key difference
between high- and low-achieving children is how (and with whom)
they spend their time outside school. Community groups offer important
resources for students and families, and schools can provide a critical link
to these resources.
Be warned: positive results are not automatic. They are more likely to
be achieved when school, family, and community partnership programs
are well planned and carefully executed. How to do this is what this book
is all about.
2. Partnerships help build and sustain public support for
the schools. In this era of market-driven education reforms, including
vouchers and charter schools, public schools are seeking increased support.
The traditional approach is public relations. We think that three
other partnership strategies offer more direct benefits, both to schools and
to the community:
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