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SPDG: Family, School and Community Partnering - Institutions of Higher Education

Updated November 2014

In 2009, the Colorado Department of Education received a State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) from the U.S Department of Education. CDE  has partnered with schools, districts, community resources and universities to implement this grant. The intention of the Colorado State Personnel Development Grant goal 5.5 was to increase future educators' meaningful participation with families in a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (RtI and PBIS).

A first step in supporting this goal was to develop and administer a survey to assess current educator family partnering preparation in Colorado Institutions of Higher Education during the spring of 2011. Results indicated that future Colorado educators learn about working with families primarily through the infusion of related information into existing courses. Faculty members were asked about their preference for further information regarding how best to prepare educators to work effectively with families. Recommendations for future venues and practices regarding family-school partnering coursework, experiences, and desired resources were developed. This website, with a focus on meeting the needs of higher education faculty in educator preparation programs, was designed as a result of these recommendations.

On this website, you will find results from the SPDG survey, highlighted research on family-school partnering, relevant Colorado legislation, suggested textbooks and websites, and sample syllabi. It is considered to be a "work in progress" with hopefully, ongoing contributions from those teaching in Colorado's educator training programs. The resources and materials on this site are not formally endorsed by the Colorado Department of Education, but are intended to serve as possible examples from the literature and field. The goal is to provide easy access to material that can be used in supporting future educators in partnering effectively with families.

Colorado 2011 SPDG Study: Preparing Colorado Educators to Partner with Families in a Multi-Tiered System of Supports


Select Articles

California Department of Education (2014). Family engagement framework: A tool for California school districts. Sacramento: Author. Retrieved from:

This article sets forth a framework created for California schools when considering working with families. This framework includes principles as well as tools, research, district activities, and rubrics for implementation, all of which are included in the document.

Caspe, M., Lopez, M.E., Chu, A., & Weiss, H.B. (2011). Teaching the teachers: Preparing educators to engage families for student achievement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Projects and Alexandria, VA: National PTA.

This brief describes the importance and benefits of training for educators in regards to working with families, and the specific skills they need to be effective.

Epstein, J.L., & Sanders, M.G. (2006). Prospects for change: Preparing educators for school, family, and community partnerships. Peabody Journal of Education, 81(2), 81-120.

The researchers in this article examined courses and content offered to prospective educators, as well as perspectives of leaders and ideas for the future from a sample of 161 colleges, schools, and departments of education. The results offer factors associated with preparedness of graduates, coverage of partnership topics, and future areas for change.

Epstein, J.L., Galdino, C.L., & Sheldon, S.B. (2011). Levels of leadership: Effects of district and school leaders on the quality of school programs of family and community involvement. Educational Administrative Quarterly, February 7, 2011, 1-34, doi: 10.1177/0013161X10396929a. Retrieved from 

This study tests key constructs of sociocultural and organizational learning theories with quantitative methods to better understand the nature and impact of district and school leadership and actions on the quality of programs of family and community involvement. Analyses showed that principals’ support for family and community involvement and schools’ reports of district assistance contribute significantly to schools’ basic program implementation and to advanced outreach to involve all families in their children’s education. 

Harvard Family Research Project. (2010). Family engagement as a systematic, sustained, and integrated strategy to promote student achievement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

This brief discusses family engagement as a part of complementary learning: the creation of an integrated set of resources to help support students. The definition of family engagement is expanded beyond volunteering at school, and the authors suggest that family engagement is a shared responsibility in learning, continuous across a child’s life, and occurring in multiple settings. Each of these components is explored.

Henderson, A.T., & Mapp, K.L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family and community connections on achievement. Austin, TX: National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools.

This is a comprehensive research review of the positive effects of schools partnering with families in improving student academic achievement and other outcomes, spanning two decades. Specific, concrete applications to practice are described, as are important concepts for community members and policy developers. Cultural and linguistic diversity is addressed specifically.

Jeynes, W. (2012). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of different types of parental involvement programs for urban students. Urban Education, 47(4), 706-742. doi: 10.1177/0042085912445643. Retrieved from

Jeynes’ analysis examined relationship between academic achievement of students pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and parental involvement programs. The results indicate a significant relationship between academic achievement and parental involvement, and also discussed are several types of school-based parental involvement programs which are effective. Significance and recommendations are discussed. This is one of a series of meta-analyses, which highlight the importance of families in student achievement.

Mapp, K.L., & Kuttner, P.J.  (2013). Partners in education: A dual capacity-building framework for family-school partnerships. U.S. Department of Education and SEDL. Retrieved from 

This document presents the new dual-capacity framework for creating effective family-school partnerships for every educator, family, and student. The framework recognizes the needs of both families and educators to learning how to work together in supporting learning. Building teacher, school, district, and family capacities is a focus and emphasized by three case studies.

Miller, G.E., Lines, C., Sullivan, E., & Hermanutz, K. (2013). Preparing educators to partner with families. Teaching Education, 24:2, 150-163, DOI:10.1080/10476210.2013.786889. Retrieved from

This article summarizes the Colorado study, which asked Institutions of Higher Education about how they were preparing educators to collaborate with families. Similar to prior studies, the results indicated that current course offerings and field practice requirements may not match prevailing views regarding the need for and importance of family engagement in promoting student success. Specific recommendations included: refocusing coursework, providing alternative field experiences, offering interdisciplinary coursework and projects, and developing ongoing avenues for continued professional development to improve the preparation of future educators to partner with families.

Redding, S., Murphy, M., & Sheley, P. (Eds). (2011). Handbook on family and community engagement. Lincoln, IL: Academic Development Institute/Center on Innovation & Improvement.

The handbook discusses many specific topics within the field of family engagement, including collaboration in high school, with students who have disabilities, and in early childhood. Each chapter offers background on the topic as well as suggestions for action for the state education agency, local education agency, and school. Case studies are also presented, as well as a checklist for action at the conclusion of the handbook.



Center for School, Family, and Community Partnerships - The Center conducts research and applies this information to policy work and programs that help parents, educators, and community members work together to strengthen schools and families. Present on the website are professional development materials and success stories from the National Network of Partnership Schools, a program provided for schools and districts. There is also a focus on TIPS (Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork), a research-based type of interactive homework, and how to implement it.

Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) - Harvard Family Research Project - The FINE website provides stakeholders with research dedicated to strengthening family-school-community partnerships. The website contains current studies as well as key foundational research from the past decade. Case studies, briefs, policy work, and ways in which to connect with other professionals on family engagement are also available on the website.

Flamboyan Foundation This website has classroom and school resources. It includes a series of 40 video clips describing various aspects of partnering, from preschool to the secondary level, through short educator vignettes.  Some information is in Spanish.

National Parent Teacher AssociationThe National Standards for Family-School Partnerships are described in detail, with accompanying instructional materials, surveys, and related resources in English and Spanish. (PTA programs page)

SEDL National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools - SEDL provides this website of resources to support connections among stakeholders in students’ lives. Provided are webinars, toolkits, literature based on research, and forums. There are also many easy to access and use briefs/handouts on a variety of topics ranging from working with diverse populations to legal mandates of No Child Left Behind.

Working Together:  School, Family, and Community Partnerships - A comprehensive, research-based, practical online resource provides information in English and Spanish for educators and family members. It includes videos, forms, surveys, and articles.


Colorado Department of Education Resources

CDE Resources and Learning Opportunities Matrix

This matrix was developed in response to faculty members’ suggestions in the SPDG 2011-12 survey. The intent is to provide an annotated resource table for use by future educators and higher education faculty in aligning the  partnerships preparation activities with current Colorado field practices and supports.

Relevant Colorado Legislation Highlights

Selected Colorado Education Reform Legislation (2009-2013) Which Includes Family Partnership Requirements: This comparative analysis matrix was created to support the effective implementation of legislation, which includes families in supporting academic and behavioral learning. The information was present at the 17th International Roundtable on School, Family, and Community Partnerships.

Colorado State Model Evaluation System for Principals, Assistant Principals, and Teachers: Key Family (Parent, Guardian, and/or Significant Adult)  Components – Standards, Rules, and Rubrics Summary 

This document highlights principal and teacher standards and rubric requirements for collaborating with families, as well as other specific guidance from the Rules. Other educational specialty rubrics family requirements can be highlighted and summarized in a similar way as might be indicated. This document is used in online courses offered by the Colorado Department of Education.


Course Ideas

Sample Syllabi - Colorado

  • Graduate
    • Family-School Partnering and Consultation, University of Denver, 2014 (PDF) (Word)
  • Undergraduate
    • Family and Community Relations, Fort Lewis College, 2014 (PDF) (Word)
  • Practitioner Professional Development
    • Family, School, and Community Partnering High Impact Strategies; Communicating and Designing Homework "Two-Way", Colorado Department of Education, 2014 (PDF) (Word)
    • Multi-Tiered Family, School, and Community Partnering, Colorado Department of Education, 2014 (PDF) (Word)
    • Family-School Partnering at the Secondary Level, Colorado Department of Education, 2014 (PDF) (Word)

Sample Textbooks

  • Colorado Department of Education, 2012 (PDF)
  • Family-School Partnership Texts from Syllabi Samples, 2014 (PDF)
  • Sample Homework Texts, 2014 (PDF)



Kim Watchorn, Ed.S.
Colorado Department of Education, Multi-Tiered System of Supports Coordinator

Gloria Miller, Ph.D.
Professor, University of Denver


This research was supported in part by a grant from State Personnel Development Grant: US Department of Education, Washington, DC (Comprehensive Systems Change Through Response to Intervention and School-wide Positive Behavior Support, CFDA #84.323A: PR Award # H323A090005).

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