A key component of Future Forward is its intensive focus on supporting literacy through family engagement.
Research shows increased parental involvement in children's schooling is connected to early literacy gains. While outcomes for all students improve with additional family involvement, the demonstrated positive working relationship between the home and school is shown to have an added literacy benefit.
School, Family, and Community partnership practices can significantly decrease chronic absenteeism.
Not only does increased family engagement lead to increased positive feelings about literacy - which in turn improves literacy performance - family involvement is also closely connected to student attendance. Some districts even partner with organizations to help provide families with everything from a bus pass to emergency shelter to legal help to promote student attendance. A school district can’t solve deeper social problems on its own. Ultimately, for literacy instruction to work, children first need to be in school to receive it.
Engagement Coordinators help develop both skills and confidence among early readers.
Through innovative guardian engagement and outreach practices, Future Forward is designed to address the need for family involvement. At the heart of this effort are Future Forward's Family Engagement Coordinators, whose goals are to promote literacy in the home and community and to provide a safe, supportive space that allows students to develop confidence and self-esteem. Coordinators stay connected to parents through a variety of means, such as social media, written communication, parent events, and home visits.
Family events focus on ways in which adults can augment learning at home and engage the whole family in daily literacy activities, such as daily "read-alouds" with intentional breaks to discuss picture-to-text correlation and the content of the books themselves. Program staff also continually look for ways to learn the families' needs and help point adults toward resources they might not access otherwise, such as community resources around workforce development, education opportunities, how to be an advocate for their child, and effective communication.
Dearing, E., Kreider, H., Simpkins, S., & Weiss, H.B. (2006). Family Involvement in School and Low-Income Children's Literacy: Longitudinal Associations Between and Within Families. Journal of Educational Psychology 98 (4), 653.
Carroll, C.J. (2013). The Effects of Parental Literacy Involvement and Child Reading Interest on the Development of Emergent Literacy Skills. Theses and Dissertations. Paper 230.
Institute of Education Sciences (2003). Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence: A User-Friendly Guide. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education
Lin, Q. (2003). Parent Involvement and Early Literacy. Harvard Family Research Project.
Sheldon, S.B., & Epstein, J.L. (2004). Getting Students to School: Using Family and Community Involvement to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism. School Community Journal 14 (2), 39.
Jones, C. (2015). The Results of a Randomized Control Trial Evaluation of the SPARK Literacy Program. Milwaukee, WI: Socially Responsible Evaluation in Education (SREed).