Site Index | CDE Offices | Staff Directory

Building, Family, School, Community Engagement Resources

There is a shift of thinking that needs to take place: dropouts are not just a school problem. Engaging families and the community is important to combat the dropout problem. Schools and school districts need to communicate and teach how communities can be engaged in helping youth graduate. In this section there are resources that can assist you in developing family and community engagement.

School Climate Survey

School climate refers to the quality and character of school life. School climate is based on patterns of students', parents' and school personnel's experience of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures.

A sustainable, positive school climate fosters youth development and learning necessary for a productive, contributing and satisfying life in a democratic society. The definition of school climate and a positive, sustained school climate were consensually developed by the National School Climate Council that CSEE co-leads with the Education Commission of the States. The climate in this sense includes:

    • Norms, values and expectations that support people feeling socially, emotionally and physically safe.
    • People are engaged and respected.
    • Students, families and educators work together to develop, live and contribute to a shared school vision.
    • Educators model and nurture attitudes that emphasize the benefits and satisfaction gained from learning.
    • Each person contributes to the operations of the school and the care of the physical environment.

This site offers research, tools, and resources, not only for school leaders, but also policy leaders.


Response to Intervention (RtI) - also called tiered intervention or tiered instruction - is the professional practice of providing research-based academic and behavioral instruction and intervention in multiple tiers of increasing frequency and intensity. Emerging themes in education research (e.g., Balfanz, Herzog, and Mac Iver, 2007; Communities in Schools, 2008) echo the public health prevention model, which encompasses three stages of prevention (primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Dropout Prevention, three-tiered model: (Mac Iver, 2009)

    • The primary stage of the prevention model involves district and school-wide reforms aimed at providing high-quality instruction that promotes engaged learning and successful high school completion for every student. This stage includes a whole-school approach to encouraging regular attendance and other positive behaviors. These primary prevention strategies alone often succeed with a large majority (two-thirds to three-quarters) of students.
    • The secondary stage targets interventions on small groups of students who need additional supports beyond the school-wide reforms to address attendance, behavior, or academic struggles.
    • The tertiary stage provides intensive intervention (often delivered one-on-one to students by specialists in social work, mental health, and so on) for the five to 10 percent of students who need more clinical support.
    • Uncharted Territory: Using Tiered Intervention to Improve High School Performance. Ada Muoneke and Laura Shankland, Published in SEDL Letter Vol. XXI, Number 1, November 2009, Improving School Performance

This article discusses RtI and how to implement it. This article gives a great background, but doesn’t give a detailed step-by-step process.

    • The RTI Action Network is dedicated to the effective implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI) in school districts nationwide. Our goal is to guide educators and families in the large-scale implementation of RTI so that each child has access to quality instruction and that struggling students – including those with learning disabilities – are identified early and receive the necessary supports to be successful. The RTI Action Network is a program of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, funded by the Cisco Foundation and in partnership with the nation’s leading education associations and top RTI experts.
    • The National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities (NDPC-SD) was originally established in January 2004 to support states in assisting local education agencies to increase school completion rates and decrease dropout rates among students with disabilities. NDPC-SD was funded for a second 5-year period in January 2009. The Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and is part of OSEP’s Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network designed to support the national implementation of provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

School/Community Collaboration

Foster connections and collaborations between community, community organizations, and schools. These collaborations maximize resources, foster goodwill, and support students.

    • According to the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice (1998), one of the key elements of a high-quality after-school program is an effective partnership between community-based organizations and schools. The Community-Based Organization and Local Education Agency/State Education Agency toolkits provide research supporting the need for school-CBO partnerships; successful strategies for creating and sustaining partnerships; and, checklists and tools.
    • This user-friendly handbook guides school, district, and state leaders to organize and implement positive and permanent programs of school, family, and community partnerships. The Third Edition includes research summaries and useful tools for developing and evaluating programs of family and community involvement. The handbook focuses on schools because that is where the children are. It is designed to guide the work of Action Teams for Partnerships (ATPs) consisting of teachers, parents, administrators, and others. The information, forms, and activities in the handbook also enable district and state leaders support, facilitate, and reward the work of their schools. Ten chapters offer step-by-step strategies to improve leadership and programs of school, family, and community connections.
    • Partners in Prevention: The Role of School-Community Partnerships in Dropout Prevention. National Association of State Board of Education, 2009.

Alternative Education

Alternative pathways to educational success are needed, ranging from intervention and prevention to high-quality alternative options and opportunities outside of the traditional mainstream education system for those who have been unable to succeed in the traditional setting.

This section will take a look at Colorado’s policy and strategies it has employed to provide alternative education in Colorado.

State-administered, federally-funded grant for adult basic education and formula grant to the state. In Colorado FY10, the program received $6.4 in federal funds. Competitive grants to local providers such as LEAs, community colleges, community-based organizations and libraries. AEFL is a unit within Student Support and administers both state and federal programs that provide educational opportunities to Colorado adults and their families: Colorado GED Testing, Colorado Family Literacy Education Fund (FLEF), and the federally-funded state-administered Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) program. Follow the links below for information about GED, FLEF, and AEFLA.

Program Participants:

    • In 2008-2009 – 14,203 served
    • Average age: 25-44
    • Eligibility: At least 16 years old. Not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under State Law. Lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to function effectively in society, or do not have a secondary school diploma or its equivalent, or are unable to speak, read, or write the English language.

    • General Educational Development (GED) Program

The GED Tests measure competency in five subject areas: Language Arts- Writing, Social Science, Language Arts- Reading, and Mathematics. The State GED Testing Program office is responsible for the oversight and supervision of GED Testing Centers, issuance of Colorado High School Equivalency Diplomas, granting of age waivers for GED tests, review of requests for GED test accommodations and the issuance of transcripts and duplicate diplomas.

Program Details:

    • Eligible applicants must be 17 years of age or older (unless waiver for 16 year old is approved), a government-issued, non-expired form of identification (not required to be a resident of Colorado), persons who are not enrolled in an accredited high school, those who have not already graduated from an accredited high school nor received a GED high school equivalency diploma.

    • Colorado Charter Schools

In the state of Colorado charter schools are public schools that operate via a contract with an authorizer such as the local school district or, in some cases, the Colorado Charter School Institute. The office of Colorado Charter Schools administers the Colorado Charter School Startup and Implementation grant, provides technical assistance to charter schools and authorizers, processes waiver requests for the State Board of Education, collects data on charter schools, produces special topic studies and the state evaluation of charter schools, and responds to questions from the general public.

In 2009-2010 school year, 160 schools where in operation serving more than 66,000 students. There are a variety of charter schools; types include adjudicated youth, pregnant and parenting teens, alternative education, classical/liberal arts, college prep, Core Knowledge, Montessori, Expeditionary Learning, Outward Bound, High Tech High model, KIPP, early college. There is an estimated 34,000+ on waiting lists.

Online education is defined as a program or school that delivers a sequential program of synchronous or asynchronous instruction form a teacher to a student primarily through the use of technology via the internet in a virtual or remote setting.

Online Specific Resources

Using Online Learning for At-Risk Students and Credit Recovery
Online learning programs are designed to expand high-quality educational opportunities and to meet the needs of diverse students. While the primary reason online courses are offered in school districts is to expand offerings to courses that would otherwise be unavailable, the second most commonly cited reason for offering online learning is to meet individual student needs according to a survey.

Is the Rush to Provide On-Line Instruction Setting Our Students Up for Failure? Communication Education, 55(1), 122-126.
The article focuses on the engagement of academic discipline in a conversation about the utility and practices associated with providing communication coursework online, particularly general education and communication skills courses. Large institutions of higher education are often faced with competing agendas. The rush to provide advances in technology, specifically online and distance learning, is in sharp contrast to institutional goals of retaining and graduating students.

Profiling Potential Dropout Students by Individual Characteristics in an Online Certificate Program International Journal of Instructional Media, 36(2), 163-176.
This study examined the relationship between the students' individual demographics and categories of student status (graduate, delay, or dropout) in an online certificate program. In total, 146 students' characteristics such as age, gender, and employment status with their prior knowledge, perceptions, and preferences were obtained by a survey and a questionnaire. The findings of the study indicated that the location of students is related to their dropout decision.

A Motivational Perspective on the Relation Between Mental Effort and Performance: Optimizing Learner Involvement in Instruction ETR&D, Vol. 53, No. 3, 2005, 22-32.
This study looks at motivation as a dimension that determines learning success and causes the high dropout rate among online learners. Theoretical and practical implications of motivational perspectives are discussed.

Online High-School Programs that Work Education Digest, November 2006, 55-63.
A document that outlines five common strategies for making online high school programs effectives. Directors of five successful virtual schools share their formulas for success through a series of interviews.

A day treatment center, residential child care facility or other facility licensed by the department of human services or a hospital licensed by the department of public health and environment, which is approached by CDE to receive reimbursement for providing educational services. There are 58 school locations, approximately 6,000 students served over the course of a year. Students demographics include mental health or behavior issues, placed by human services, DYC, mental health or school districts.

The SEDL National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools

The Center's work focused on finding and sharing that research based information people need to design initiatives and take action to make connections between schools, families, and communities. This information goes beyond just describing what family and community involvement in schools looks like and focuses on research findings and recommendations to help schools, families and communities focus their efforts for the most impact on student success.

Sustaining School and Community Efforts to Enhance Outcomes for Children and Youth A Guidebook and Tool Kit

This guide offers a great perspective – how to think about sustaining the partnerships you develop. It talks about how sustainability should be a consideration in the beginning, and should be a helpful way to evaluate the partnerships.

School-Community Partnerships: A Guide

This guidebook briefly:

    • underscores the “why” of school-family-community collaborations
    • highlights their key facets
    • sketches out the state of the art across the country
    • offers some recommendations for local school and community policy makers
    • discusses steps for building and maintaining school-community partnerships
    • includes some tools for developing such partnerships

This guide is a wonderfully complete toolkit takes you from evaluation stage to planning and implementation. Although a bit lengthy, it has several tools and resources one can tailor and use, and a three page list of research, tools, guides and books that can support your parent-community-school collaborations.

Parent and Home Involvement in Schools

“Schools that undertake and support strong comprehensive parent In general, research findings over the past 30 years have consistently shown home involvement in schooling has a positive impact on youngster’s attitudes, aspirations, and achievement. The tasks ahead include expanding the focus beyond thinking only in terms of parents and expanding the range of ways in which schools connect with those in the home

Addressing Barriers to Learning

This newsletter from the School Mental Health Project is a great resource. One of the best section is the self-study survey.

“Stakeholders can use this survey as an aid in mapping and analyzing the current status of their efforts to (a) clarify what resources already are available, (b) how the resources are organized to work together, and (c) what procedures are in place for enhancing resource usefulness. Such a self-study is best done by a team. A group of stakeholders, for example, could use the items to guide discussion of how well specific processes and programs are functioning and what's not being done.”

Fostering School, Family, and Community Involvement

This guidebook provides an overview of the nature and scope of collaboration, explores barriers to effectively working together, and discusses the processes of establishing and sustaining the work. It also reviews the importance of using data, issues related to sharing information, and examples of collaborative efforts from around the country.

Comprehensive Social/Emotional Supports for Families

Some youth dropout because they and their families lack the system of support that help them be successful at school. Learning includes more than just academic advancement; it includes social and emotional development. Research has shown that positive youth development includes more than their brains, but their body and spirit. Learn more about how your school can build appropriate and effective supports for students and their families

School-wide Positive Behavior Support Implementers’ Blueprint and Self-Assessment

“This blueprint is designed for use by individuals who are interested in or are implementing SW-PBS, and/or interested in tactics for sustaining or expanding (goto-scale) their efforts. Implementers include school, district, and state level administrators; staff developers; educational policy and decision makers; higher education personnel preparers; consultants; program evaluators; and researchers.”

Resources to Promote Social and Emotional Health and School Readiness in Young Children and Families—A Community Guide

This document is part of a policy series intended to improve social, emotional, and learning outcomes for young children. Building on NCCP’s work over the past several years (see Promoting the Emotional Well-Being of Children and Families series, at Resources to Promote Social and Emotional Health and School Readiness in Young Children and Families—A Community Guide builds on NCCP’s earlier work to describe effective programs, highlight policy opportunities, and offer fiscal strategies to promote the emotional health of young children and their families.

Quick Links


Contact Us

Colorado Dept. of Education
201 East Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303-866-6600
Fax: 303-830-0793
Contact CDE

CDE Hours
Mon - Fri 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
See also: Licensing Hours

Educator Licensing