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Engaging parents for student success

Dr. Sylvester Perez1

September 30, 2013

Dear SAISD Staff,

I am excited today to highlight an important position within our district – or rather 83 of these positions! That’s how many Parent and Family Liaisons we now have thanks to the addition of 54 positions this school year. Now, every elementary, middle and high school has this additional support for its students and families.

The decision to expand the position to all campuses tells you how important we think it is to have parental involvement and engagement across our District. This move puts on our campuses someone whose sole focus is to engage parents and bring them into our schools because we know that parental/guardian involvement is a key ingredient in  student success and academic performance.

There are studies to back that up. A fairly recent analysis by education professor William H. Jeynes is one example. He analyzed the results of 51 studies of school-based parental involvement programs serving students in Pre-K through 12. The results indicated that parental involvement programs are associated with higher student achievement outcomes.

Another recent study by internationally renowned cognitive neuroscientist Helen Neville indicated that parental involvement may be a large factor in pre-school students’ ability to retain attention in the classroom, according to a news report. The study also showed that a brief training program on attention aimed at 3- to 5-year-olds and their families could help boost brain activity and narrow the academic achievement gap between low- and high-income students.

Those are just a couple of studies that speak to the impact of parents being active participants in their child’s education. We, for our part, should engage parents and share with them ways that they can partner with us to support their child’s success. And there are great things toward this end happening in our District. Our liaisons are working hard to bring parents and families into our schools through a number of educational activities and events, including literacy nights, English as a Second Language classes and learning workshops and symposiums that provide valuable information about parental involvement, access to technology and stress management, among other topics.

Now, just because campuses have these liaison positions doesn’t mean that all the work should be left only to that one person. We should all continue doing our part to contribute to a campus environment that is welcoming and inviting to our families. And, we should communicate regularly with the liaisons, whether it’s to share information about services that a particular student or family can benefit from or to share ideas about activities, programs or events.

For instance, one area where I think our families could greatly benefit is learning  strategies to help prevent their children from losing knowledge gained during the school year when summer rolls around. This video is a great illustration of how summer regression contributes to the achievement gap between socio-economic groups. A collaborative effort at the campus, involving the Parent and Family Liaison, could produce valuable information and ideas to share with parents.

We value our families as partners in their child’s education and look forward this year to opportunities to engage and collaborate.

Dr. Sylvester Perez


“What the Teacher is, is more important than what he/she Teaches.” — Karl Menninger


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