Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Leadership Practices Linked to Involvement in School-Family-Community Partnerships: A National Study

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Leadership Practices Linked to Involvement in School-Family-Community Partnerships: A National Study

Article excerpt

In the ongoing national debate about increasing the academic and postsecondary outcomes of underserved K-12 students, all eyes are on school counselors as leaders and agents of systemic change (Education Commission of the States, 2014; P. L. Hines & Lemons, 2011; McMahon, Mason, & Paisley, 2009). One role that seems fitting for school counselors in the quest for systemic change to improve student outcomes is the facilitation of school-family-community partnerships. School counselor training in counseling, human relations, and collaboration skills (e.g., group dynamics, consultation skills) makes them perfectly suited to engage family and community stakeholders. The complex developmental challenges that students face require school counselors to take an ecological approach to school counseling that incorporates building ties between the people and spheres that influence children (Epstein, 2011; Epstein & Van Voorhis, 2010; McMahon, Mason, Daluga-Guenther, & Ruiz, 2014; McMahon et al., 2009; Stone & Clark, 2001). Indeed, for the past two decades, the school counseling literature has been replete with calls for the increased involvement of school counselors as collaborators in school-family-community partnerships (Bryan, 2005; Bryan & Henry, 2012; Colbert, 1996; Kaffenberger & O'Rorke-Trigiani, 2013; Walsh, Howard, & Buckley, 1999).

Broadly defined, school-family-community partnerships are collaborative relationships and initiatives between school professionals, families, and community members (such as business leaders or faith-based organizations) for the purpose of implementing programs that address students' complex needs; increase their educational resilience and strengths; and foster their academic, social/emotional, and college-career development (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2012; Bryan & Henry, 2008, 2012). These partnerships result in increased programs and resources to support students who face academic, socioemotional, mental health, and college-career challenges (Kaffenberger & O'Rorke-Trigiani, 2013; Trusty, Mellin, & Herbet, 2008). In fact, researchers (Bryk, 2010; Bryk, Sebring, Allensworth, Luppescu, & Easton, 2010) have identified strong parent-community-school ties as one of the five essential supports in school improvement.

School-Family-Community Partnerships, Academic Achievement, and College Attainment

Research syntheses and meta-analyses provide evidence that school-family-community partnership programs improve academic outcomes (Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Jeynes, 2003, 2005, 2007), including reading achievement (Henry, 2014; Henry, Bryan, & Zalaquett, 2017) and mathematics achievement (Sheldon, 2003; Sheldon & Epstein, 2005). Further, school-family-community engagement leads to improved student attendance, increased on-time graduation rates, and improved social/emotional behavior (Epstein & Van Voorhis, 2010; Henderson & Mapp, 2002). Partnerships help school counselors to maximize the services they provide to larger numbers of students through collaboration with school staff, family, and community members to implement a comprehensive range of programs and activities (Bryan & Henry, 2008; Henry, 2014; Henry et al., 2017; McMahon et al., 2009, 2014). Hence, school counseling scholars emphasize the importance of school-family-community partnerships in tackling students' mental health challenges (Kaffenberger & O'Rorke-Trigiani, 2013); promoting college readiness and access (Bryan, Young, Griffin, & Henry, 2016; P. L. Hines & Lemons, 2011; Holcomb-McCoy, 2010); addressing systemic issues that affect students, such as poverty (Amatea & West-Olatunji, 2007; Cole, Cowan, & Craigen, 2015; Grothaus & Cole, 2010) and homelessness (Grothaus, Lorelle, Anderson, & Knight, 2011); and closing academic achievement gaps (Trusty et al., 2008). Indeed, recent research demonstrates that school counselors' leadership resulted in a school-family-community partnership program that contributed to gains in urban elementary school students' reading achievement and developmental assets (Henry, 2014; Henry et al. …

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