General Parent Engagement Information and Available Toolkits

A rich array of literature exists offering evidence of parent engagement as well as helpful strategies for how to expand parent involvement in their children’s education. This is a selected list of resources we found to be especially helpful for providing an overview of parent engagement strategies and resources. 


Across All Levels


  • Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships  by Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies, (NY: The New Press, 2007). The book, based on the research in A New Wave of Evidence, is a practical, user-friendly guide. Chapter Seven: Supporting Advocacy, covers helping families understand how to solve problems; monitor their children’s progress and steer them toward more challenging programs; make a smooth transition from elementary to middle, and middle to high school and on to college; and plan collaboratively for their children’s future. Chapter Ten is loaded with resources; there is also an extensive bibliography.
  • Community & Family Engagement: Principals Share What Works by Amy C. Berg, Atelia Melaville, Martin J. Blank (2006). This paper explores ways in which principals of community schools work successfully with community partners, families and other key stakeholders to improve student outcomes. The text offers insights about they engage community, why doing so is hard, and what strategies and approaches they find most effective.
  • Creating a School Environment that Welcomes Parents by James Casale (StudentsFirst, 2011). Casale proposes three suggestions for parents to become more involved in the school community and stresses that it is the role of the principal to foster this connection and engage parents in school life.
  • Fostering School, Family, and Community Involvement by Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor (Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence and Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 2007). This guide provides an overview of the nature and scope of collaboration to enhance home, community, and school as part of safe school and school improvement planning. Schools are more effective and caring places when they are an integral part of the community. For communities, collaboration with schools can strengthen students, their families, their school, and the community in which they live.
  • How to Develop a Logic Model for District-wide Family Engagement Strategies by the Harvard Family Research Project (2009). This resource helps stakeholders understand and develop a logic model for district-wide family engagement efforts, including identifying resources, activities, and outcomes to help guide programs toward their goals.
  • It Takes a Parent: Transforming Education in the Wake of the No Child Left Behind Act (2004) by the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice. This study discusses the challenge schools and districts face in universally embracing parental involvement as a strategy for accomplishing academic gains and stress the need that existing laws in education must be fully understood, supported and implemented.


Elementary School



Middle School



High School


  • Building a Bridge From School to Adult Life (Connecticut Transition Task Force, 2009). This handbook is for students and family members to help with preparation for life after high school. It provides advice in transition planning and advises students and parents to be proactive to ensure goals for self-advocacy, college, training, and employment.
  • One Dream, Two Realities: Perspectives of Parents on American High Schools (Civic Enterprises, 2008). This report discusses how regardless of incomes, education, and performance at the school, parents believe that their involvement is central to their child’s academic success. It is meant to give parents a voice and to provide ideas on how schools and parents can work more effectively together to strengthen the education of children. 
  • Resource Guide for Family Engagement in Education at the High School Level by the Harvard Family Research Project (2009). This resource guide provides research based examples of how communities and schools can reach out to families of high school students to engage them meaningfully on the path to post-secondary success. Some resources focus on the critical transition periods between eight to ninth grade and high school to college and discuss specific strategies to help families and schools support students through these pivotal periods.
  • Success at Every Step: How 23 Programs Support Youth on the Path to College and Beyond by the American Youth Policy Forum (2009). This compilation and research examines 23 successful programs that help youth complete high school ready to achieve success in college and their future careers. It also includes a logic model illustrating the necessary steps in preparing youth for college.
  • Transition from Middle School to High School by J.S. Smith (Westerville, OH: National Middle School Association, 2006). This brief synthesizes the current research on the transition to high school. it outlines the need for comprehensive transition programs to address the changes that students experience between eighth and ninth grades.


Toolkits from other organizations

This is a resource library of organizations and school districts that have also developed their own toolkits to address the need of parent engagement in schools to ensure student academic success.

  • A Toolkit for Title 1 Parent Involvement by Chris Ferguson (Austin TX: Southwest Educational Development Lab: 2010). This toolkit is designed to provide information to those who are implementing Title 1 Part A parental involvement provisions. By using these tools, you can increase the “transparency” for parental involvement in children’s education.
  • Engaging Parents in Education: Lessons From Five Parental Information and Resource Centers by the US Department of Education (2007). This series of resource guides identifies innovative and successful education programs that are closing the achievement gap and reaching the goal of every child reading and doing math at grade level by 2014. The five PIRCs profiled demonstrate how PIRCs and their partnering organizations can successfully increase parental involvement in education. They emphasize the power of strong parent-educator partnerships in improving schools and raising students’ academic achievement.
  • The Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit: Planning and Implementing an Initiative to Support the Pathway to Graduation for At-Risk Students by United Way Worldwide and Harvard Family Research Project (2011). This toolkit details the planning that goes into the creation of family engagement initiatives and the early implementation process. The toolkit contains numerous worksheets to assist schools, nonprofits, and community organizations with developing parent engagement initiatives.
  • The Handbook on Family and Community Engagement was created with funding and support from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education to the Academic Development Institute and the Center on Innovation & Improvement. The Center on Innovation & Improvement is a national content center supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (2011). DOE’s Handbook draws upon such research and offers practical ideas and engagement strategies that can be used in various contexts. Specifically, the engagement framework emphasizes the need to build trust by establishing regular communication with parents, articulating clear expectations for parent and community engagement within the school, teaching parents how to utilize performance data as an advocacy tool and building the capacity of schools to sustain engagement strategies.
  • Help Your Children Succeed in High School and Go to College by Mariela Dabbah (Ronald McDonald House Charities and Hispanic American Commitment to Education Resources: 2008). This toolkit comes with a multimedia tool and an accompanying facilitator’s guide to help community leaders conduct successful workshops for Latino families to support their kids during high school and the transition to college.
  • Learn, Do, Earn Toolkit by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation was created by New Jersey educators and business leaders. It provides information for parents to get their kids ready for college, work and life and is organized by the transition to middle school and the transition to high school. It contains website activities and presentations about college readiness.
  • The National Center for Learning Disabilities, an America’s Promise Alliance partner, offers a variety of resources regarding parent engagement. The NCLD website includes resources for parents, schools, and adults with learning disabilities. America’s Promise Alliance compiled a list of resources featured on the NCLD website to help parents support children to make progress every year, attain their long-term goals, and transition successfully (for children with and/or without learning disabilities). The list also includes resources about advocating for children with learning disabilities, and ensuring that children receive the proper support in school.  
  • The Parent and Family Engagement section on the Department of Education website. This website features a blog, links to parent and family involvement topics, and access to various resources for parents and for those interested in increasing parent involvement.
  • Parent and Home Involvement in Schools by the Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA (2007) provides an overview on how to expand the focus beyond thinking only in terms of parents and expanding the range of ways in which schools connect with those in the home.
  • Parents Empowering Parents by the California State Parent Teachers Association. This resource assists PTA Leaders and community organizations to carry out effective parent involvement.
  • The Parent Engagement Tool Kit from the Search Institute (2012).  This toolkit provides ideas and strategies for improving parent involvement at all levels.  It includes over 40 handouts and tools, tips on communicating with non-English speaking parents, and links to research briefs.
  • Partnerships for Learning: Community Supports for Youth Success by the Harvard Family Research Project (January 2013) draws on the experiences of national organizations and a set of community schools that have built these learning partnerships, and examine seven key elements that we find to be essential in building them.
  • The Resource Guide for Family Engagement in Education by the Harvard Family Research Project (October 2012) provides links to best practices for parent and family engagement. In addition, the resource guide includes links to resources about design thinking.
  • Strengthening Parent Involvement by Colorado Department of Education. This comprehensive toolkit reaches out to school board members, district staff, principals, teachers and parents. It addresses parent involvement specifications of No Child Left Behind and the broader area of family and community involvement which are critical to successful student achievement.
  • What Schools Can Do to Welcome and Meet the Needs of All Students and Families by the School Mental Health Project of UCLA. This guidebook is a compilation of resources that provide an understanding of the parent/family relationship and discusses how to meet some common concerns that confront schools on a regular basis.