ALEXANDRIA, VA--(Marketwire - May 23, 2011) - Today, the National PTA® and Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) released the issue brief titled, Teaching the Teachers: Preparing Educators to Engage Families for Student Achievement. The issue brief outlines the needs for teacher education programs that will assist in creating a foundation for effective family engagement.

The issue brief calls attention to a startling fact; most teachers say they enter the classroom unprepared to engage families. This may be because most university family engagement courses focus on early childhood and special education. Those that do focus on school-family partnerships do not fully prepare teachers to deal with the reality of communicating and working with families to bolster student success.

This leaves new teachers unprepared to deal with the challenges of the diversity in their classrooms. The issue brief lists the skills and practices teachers need to engage families as partners in learning to improve student academic success.

A 2009 report by a group of researchers (Jean Johnson, Andrew Yarrow, Jonathan Rochkind and Amber Ott), called Teaching for a living: How teachers see the profession today, found that teachers view the lack of support from parents as their most pressing challenge and identify family engagement as one of the top strategies to improve outcomes for their students. This issue brief highlights teacher training programs with fresh strategies to equip the next generation of teachers to meet the needs of their diverse students and families.

The brief also describes five core elements necessary for a system of teacher training and professional development in support of family engagement, distilled from case studies of five promising teacher preparation programs. The five case studies are followed by a set of policy recommendations based on a synthesis of current knowledge about educating teachers.

The issue brief can be found at

About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

About Harvard Family Research Project
Since 1983, Harvard Family Research Project has helped stakeholders develop and evaluate strategies to promote the well being of children, youth, families, and their communities. We work primarily within three areas that support children's learning and development -- early childhood education, out-of-school time programming, and family and community support in education. Underpinning all of our work is a commitment to evaluation for strategic decision making, learning, and accountability. Building on our knowledge that schools alone cannot meet the learning needs of our children, we also focus national attention on complementary learning. Complementary learning is the idea that a systemic approach, which integrates school and nonschool supports, can better ensure that all children have the skills they need to succeed.

To view this release in a media-rich format, go to:

Contact Information:

James Martinez
National PTA
Phone: (571) 329-9352

Marcella Franck
Harvard Family Research Project
Phone: 617-495-9108