Parent Engagement at the Transition Points

The concept of transition is closely tied with the concept of readiness. We must ensure that children start school ready to learn. This means that attention must be paid at each transition point they experience throughout their schooling to ensure lifelong success. 

Attendance Every Day

Creating a New Response to Truancy

Led by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the [email protected] program creates one point of contact within the county for schools to report children with unexcused absences, contracts with community-based agencies to help families solves problems and focuses limited resources on younger children to combat truancy at an early age. Schools intervene with the parents of absent students, including telephone calls to parents, letters from the principal after 3 unexcused absence and similar measures to engage the family in combating attendance issues.

Early Identification & Intervention

HOME WORKS! a non-profit dedicated to improving the academic careers of students in St. Louis, MO is committed  to increase academic achievement, attendance, parental engagement, homework completion , and decrease discipline issues.  HOME WORKS! also trains teachers and school staff to make home visits in order to forge relationships with parents/families/guardians and to get parents engaged in their child’s education.  Through the home visits process, teachers are able to get to know parents, share information about the student, and give the parents the tools necessary to help their child do better in school.  After each round of home visits is completed, schools participating in the HOME WORKS! program host a family dinner in an effort to continue to build and solidify relationships between the school(s) and parents.

Step-by-Step Truancy Reduction

Madera County, Calif., has created a five-step truancy program, Stop Truancy Opportunity Program (STOP), which provides a full range of services including prevention, intervention, diversion and enforcement. The program, while also serving some elementary schools, is primarily for middle schools. These grades were chosen because research shows that the transition to high school is often followed by decreases in academic performances and by increases in absenteeism. STOP and participating schools work closely with the Probation department, the district attorney, the Student Review Board and the Juvenile Court.

STOP provides additional services to the students as needed. It has contracted with a Boys & Girls Club and refers students for after school activities, mentoring and tutoring. The STOP probation officers attempt to keep the participants connected to the program during the summer months by taking the students out on life skills and education trainings and excursions.

Achievement Every Year

Early Start to Involve Parents

The Maine Parent Federation (MPF) created a universal, voluntary home visiting program, Parents as Teachers (PAT) that provides education, encouragement and support to parents of young children. The program helps parents learn about child development and how to use play and toys to encourage language, literacy, intellectual growth, and social and motor skills. It also provides information on behavior issues, positive discipline methods, and ways to strengthen the parent/child relationship. In addition to home visits, PAT offers playgroups, workshops, family get-togethers, developmental screenings and referrals to resources in the community. The services are free of charge and works closely with the Parents as Teachers National Center which trains parent educators and provides a core curriculum.

Parent-Teacher Partnership for High Expectations

Arlington Public Schools offers parents an education program, Parent Expectations Support Achievement (PESA), modeled after the Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement (TESA) program. A group of 15-20 parents meet once a week for 6 consecutive weeks to discuss interactions designed to demonstrate high expectations for their children. The program stresses the importance of the influence the parent has as a child’s first teacher and provides strategies for improved communication and strengthened relationships. These interactions coincide with those highlighted in TESA training. This allows parents and teachers to send to same message of high expectations to students.

  • For more information, visit the PESA  website

Clear Communication Between Schools and Parents

School, in Malden, MA, launched the “MHS School Counseling Blog” to provide students, families, and community members with the most up to date information to ensure that parents and community members are aware of what is going on at MHS and can easily access relevant resources.  Blog posts focus on various topics, including school policies, guidance programs, standardized tests, transitions, and academic, career and college planning. The blog also allows the guidance team to receive comments and input from parent throughout the year.   

Attainment Over Time

Transforming the Educational Environment

In Fresno, Calif., Homan Elementary school creates a series of classes called “Parents Becoming Academic Coaches and Leaders,” where parents and teachers can collaborate together to change the child’s educational environment at school and at home so that all children can achieve their greatest academic success. It gives parents the tools necessary for them to become academic coaches at home and advocates for their children at school.

Parents received a special recognition for perfect attendance of the nine sessions during the graduation ceremony. The families of parents attended and the children were proud of their parents and saw that education is so important to their parents that they would come to the school for nine weeks without missing a session. It also provides the school with a pool of trained parent leaders involved in future levels of the school systems.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Thinking about College

The College: Making It Happen (CMIH) program in California is a collaborative effort among community colleges, public and private colleges, school districts, and community and educational organizations, aimed at getting middle school students and their families to plan ahead for college so students are successful throughout high-school.  At the annual College: Making It Happen workshop, parents hear from representatives from colleges, universities, and local high schools about the benefit of a college education.  They also offer college preparation for middle school students, paying for college workshops and a variety of other sessions including understanding the California State University System, financial aid and other funding resources.

  • For more information, visit the CMIH  website.

Parent Panels

Naperville North High School in Naperville, IL hosts the Parent-to-Parent Network event to allow parents of rising 9th graders to hear about high school directly from parents who currently have children attending NNHS.  Parents of current high school students serve on a panel to discuss the transition from middle school to high school and then answer any questions that incoming parents may have.  The goal of Parent-to-Parent Night is to have an honest, informative conversation that will help incoming students’ parents feel more comfortable with their child’s transition to high school and be informed about what to expect.  This event also allows incoming parents to build their social network at the school. 

GEAR UP Grants that Focus on Parent Engagement & College Readiness


The Connecticut State GEAR UP grant provides students and parents with an array of comprehensive services that will help increase student academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education. The grant is also slated to increase high school graduation and college enrollment rates. Some of the grant’s technical assistance includes, but is not limited to STEM education, workshops and seminars, professional development, and curriculum alignment. Additional workshops and seminars focus on assisting youth with transitions, increasing awareness about college access and financing, and helping parents to become better equipped advisors regarding their child’s academic career(s). 


The Nevada State GEAR UP project is aimed at changing the culture of schools located in economically disadvantaged communities to ensure that all students have the skills and resources necessary to attend and succeed in college. The project is also working to increase the Nevada System of Higher Education’s (NSHE) involvement in GEAR up schools to facilitate a seamless transition from secondary to postsecondary attendance and success. Through this project, GEAR UP students and their parent/families will gain increased knowledge of post-secondary education options, preparation, and financing.   

Advocacy For All

Opportunities for Greater Understanding of How to Navigate the School System

The Family & Community Partnership Office of Federal Way Public Schools in Federal Way, Washington is helping all students succeed by promoting opportunities for parents to understand the school system and become advocates for children. The office partners with families to develop home and school strategies to assist families in becoming more informed, prepared and involved while the children are still young to maximize their learning potential.

Parent led orientation sessions, such as “What Every Parent Wants to Know,” is beneficial to parents looking for ways to help their child succeed in school. All parents are welcome to attend and can also volunteer to become an orientation session leader for their neighborhood and spread the knowledge to other parents.

Sustainability through real-life experiences and cultural strengths

Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors (AP) is an evidence-based parent leadership training program for Latino parents with children 0-5 years of age. AP uses “dichos,” culturally-based sayings, to guide the discussion each week. Latino parents meet in support groups to develop their ability to be their child’s first teacher. Parents are engaged in dialogues including how to be their child’s first teacher, goal setting, communication, stages of development, choosing a preschool and child care services and advocating for children.

The goal of AP is to increase the number of Latino children in the US that enter school prepared and able to succeed in life. The program aims to provide social support and social connections in the community, desire for community involvement, empowerment in their child’s education, and confidence as parents.

Parent Leadership and Advocacy Training

The New Jersey Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) has created a Parent Leadership Development Institute for parents to make a difference for all of New Jersey’s Children. The objectives of the institute are for participants to understand what effective schools look like, envision the ideal school and begin to develop action plans, understand the role of parents in school improvement, develop and hone advocacy skills, understand effective parent and professional collaboration techniques, and share knowledge and skills with other parents and community members. There are eight workshop sections for parents to attend that outline all the intended objectives.

While the Development Institute is for all parents with students of all ages, this workshop is particularly beneficial for parents of middle school students, since they are transitioning between elementary school and high school and have the least amount of schooling time in between. It is critical that parents become proactive as advocates during this time as their schooling will set the foundations for their child’s future success. These workshops will strengthen adult advocacy that will provide middle school students with a smoother transition to high school and less likely to drop out.

Breaking Cultural Barriers

The Concilio is a non-profit organization serving the Greater Dallas area advocating and enhancing the quality of life for Hispanics through community partnerships. It created the Parents Advocating for Student Excellence (PASE) program in 2002 to meet the needs of creating a financially stable and educated community. The program addresses the drop-out crisis by increasing parent engagement, which is often lacking due to cultural barriers. The program has a set of curricula for each transition point, with a great strength in its high school program. Parents build their skills, knowledge and experience to engage the principal and teachers in conversations about their student’s education. They recognize their role and take responsibility for guiding their student through the school system and their academic future. Parents participate in workshops such as Leadership, Life After High School, and College Day (a trip to a local college). 90.2% of students who participated in the PASE program completed high school and 51% of Dallas County Hispanic students complete high school.

Training Educators and Parents to Work Together

The California Parent Center (CPC) is a project of the San Diego State University Research Foundation that has provided regional training across California working to assist educators and parent leaders from preschool through high school to work in partnership to improve academic outcomes for students so that they graduate high school and are prepared for college.