the majority (60%) of high school teachers reported contacting almost no or few parents. Of the contacts made, most were with parents of students who were academically successful or those who were at risk of failure or described as discipline problems. Similarly, Purnell and Gott ( 1985) found that secondary teachers, though noting its importance, felt that they did not have sufficient time to implement effective practices of family involvement.
This study, too, finds that professional educators and families feel that time is limited for their work on partnerships. This study also suggests that the attitudes of educators and families can present obstacles to effective schoolhome-community partnerships. It further indicates, however, that with the right support, a framework of involvement, and a team approach for action, teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community members can work together to build effective programs of partnership.
Schools cannot expect to have their ideal programs overnight. This study shows that even middle schools that have been working on their partnership>lb /> programs for 3 years have areas in which they can improve. Through annual action plans, improvements in the effectiveness of their action teams, and regular evaluation of their activities, the partnership programs at each of the schools should continue to grow and improve. Incremental progress of this kind has been observed and reported in other schools ( Sanders, 1996a; 1996b).
The four schools in this study are among 1,000 schools, 100 school districts and 10 state education agencies in the National Network of Partnership>lb /> Schools at Johns Hopkins University that are working to build permanent and effective school, family and community partnerships. This network enables educators and parents to learn from each other about successful practices and solutions to major challenges. Participating schools share information, concerns, and best practices so that each school can continue to improve its program of partnership. Members of the national network also have opportunities to participate in research on how programs of partnership affect student outcomes. Increasing numbers of elementary, middle, and high schools are working hard to build successful partnerships because they know from theory, research, and practice that schools cannot effectively educate students at any age or grade level without the help and support of families and communities.
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