Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School-Family-Community Partnerships: Applying Epstein's Theory of the Six Types of Involvement to School Counselor Practice

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School-Family-Community Partnerships: Applying Epstein's Theory of the Six Types of Involvement to School Counselor Practice

Article excerpt

This article investigates school counselor involvement in partnerships using Epstein's six types of school-family-community involvement interactions (i.e., parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making, and collaborating with the community). Findings show more involvement in parenting and collaborating with the community interactions and reveal a new partnership interaction practiced by school counselors. Recommendations for school counselors and areas for future research are discussed.


The current state of our society and, thus, our schools compels us to continually improve the way we educate all students, particularly those who could benefit from additional support and resources to meet their needs and help them become academically successful. Linking schools, family, and communities may be seen as helpful or merely ancillary for school counselors working with struggling students. However, the complexity of problems facing our schools and families today suggests that identifying successful roles taken by school counselors in developing school-family-community partnerships is important. Schools are better situated to address barriers to learning and teaching and promote positive development when they are integral to the community. Likewise, families can more successfully address barriers to learning by working in partnership with schools and the community (Adelman & Taylor, 2002).


The current presidential administration has declared that all children will need a high-quality education in order to be successful in today's world. Indeed, the previous administration developed the No Child Left Behind Act to ensure that all children, regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, disability, or spoken language, have equal opportunity to get a high-quality education (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). However, current data continue to show that achievement gaps exist between low-income students and students of color and their White counterparts. For example, students in high-socioeconomic groups are achieving in mathematics at much higher rates than those in low-socioeconomic groups, and Asian American and White students continue to score higher in reading than their African American, Latino, and Native American peers (House & Sears, 2002; National Center for Educational Statistics, 2005; Wirt et al., 2002, 2005). Developing school-family-community partnerships has been shown to be an effective avenue that school personnel can take to mitigate these academic deficits that currently exist (Sheldon & Epstein, 2005). "The key to increase student achievement and to ensure more equitable practices in schools is to increase parent and community, involvement" (Holcomb-McCoy, 2007, p. 66). It is our contention that school-family-community partnerships are an ideal approach to support the growing needs of our nation's students.

There is some evidence illustrating that school counselors and counselor educators believe school-family-community partnerships are important (e.g., Bryan, 2005; Bryan & Holcomb-McCoy, 2004, 2007; Dimmitt, 2003; Green & Keys, 2001; Simcox, Nuijens, & Lee, 2006). For example, a study of school counselors' perceptions of partnerships suggests that, despite a variety of barriers (e.g., administrative tasks, too many roles and functions, time limitations) to developing and implementing partnership programs, school counselors believed in the efficacy of these collaborative partnerships (Bryan & Holcomb-McCoy, 2004, 2007). However, some studies still demonstrate that school counselors see other counseling duties as more important than collaboration and partnerships. In a national study of elementary and secondary school counselors' perceptions of school counselor education programs, school counselors believed that course content in other areas should be emphasized more than collaboration. …

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