Building School-Family-Community Partnerships in Middle and High Schools
MAVIS G. SANDERS JOYCE L. EPSTEIN
Johns Hopkins University
To better understand how some secondary schools are working to develop school, family, and community partnerships, 22 educators, parents, and students at two middle schools and two high schools were interviewed. The four schools are members of the National Network of Partnership Schools, which brings together and provides technical assistance to schools, districts, and states committed to developing comprehensive and permanent programs of school-family-community partnership. This chapter is organized into seven sections. The first section discusses social networks, social capital, and a theory of overlapping spheres of influence to elucidate the conceptual foundation for school, family, and community partnerships. The second section outlines and discusses essential elements of a comprehensive program of school, family, and community partnership. This section describes a framework of six types of family and community involvement and an action team approach to partnerships. The third section outlines the methods used in this study. The fourth and fifth sections of this chapter describe partnership programs at two middle schools and two high schools, respectively. These sections report the schools' progress and the challenges they face in developing schoolwide programs of partnership. These sections are followed by a general discussion of this study. The final section situates the study's findings within the broader context of current literature on school-family-community partnerships at the secondary level.
Schools are institutions that are responsible for the formal education of children and youth. However, schools that carry out this responsibility most effectively understand themselves and their students to be part of a larger social system that includes families, and communities. Research conducted