Colorado Team Chosen to Serve on Educator Preparation Consortium to Better Engage Families

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DENVER – Oct. 23, 2020: Fort Lewis College, the Colorado Department of Education, and the Colorado Department of Higher Education have been chosen as one of seven state teams to take part in the National Association of Family, School, and Community Engagement’s (NAFSCE) Family Engagement Consortium of Pre-Service Educator Preparation.
 
The Consortium is a partnership of NAFSCE, the National Education Association, Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the National Education Association.
 
The seven state teams – representing California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Wisconsin – were chosen from a competitive pool of applicants to develop a framework that will inform both policy and practice, and support teaching colleges in the development of institution-specific curricula. Policymakers will refer to the Framework as a guide for the advancement to state-and local-level policy.
 
“We’re honored to be selected to take part in this important work,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. “Strong family engagement is a significant predictor of student success and we whole-heartedly support strengthening our future educators with this training.”
 
The Consortium builds on NAFSCE’s report, State of the States: Family, School, and Community Engagement Within State Educator Licensure Requirements. The report analyzes the current minimum requirements for educator preparation programs set by the 50 U.S. states and six U.S. territories that license educators and administrators, highlighting the professional practice standards and field requirements most directly addressing family, school, and community engagement.
 
The study found that only 17 of the 56 U.S. states and territories address training teachers in four foundational elements identified by NAFSCE as essential components of effective family and community engagement: collaboration and partnership, communication, culture and diversity, and relationships and trust. This means that nearly 70 percent of states are not requiring future teachers to be trained on these fundamentals. The need for teachers to establish strong relationships and trust with families was the least represented of the four foundational elements, with fewer than 40% of states addressing this essential tenant of family engagement.
 
“Teachers are one of the most important connections in creating genuine and meaningful family-school partnerships. Teachers know their students well and can connect to families by offering guidance to support learning and educational growth at home,” said Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “Family members are well equipped to also support teachers in better understanding student background and culture.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone the essential role families play in their children’s education, yet the State of the States report makes clear that educator preparation programs are failing to train future teachers to effectively engage families and establish trusted relationships. A recent NAFSCE survey of 1,552 educators and family engagement professionals called attention to the detrimental effect of this lack of training. In the survey, just 43% of early-childhood and K-12 educators agreed with the statement, “I was properly prepared and trained to engage families in their children's learning during my training and preparation program.”
 
“Fort Lewis College Teacher Preparation Programs know it is essential to interweave the importance of strong relationships between school, family, and community throughout our curriculum to promote equity and high realization of K-12 student achievement,” said Kris Greer, associate provost of Fort Lewis College.
 
“Too often, low-income and underserved families don’t have access or opportunity to become engaged in their child’s education. It’s often misunderstood as a parent’s lack of desire. What needs to shift is educator’s understanding, skills, and dispositions to leverage family strengths. With the exceptional commitment of our state teams and partners, we’re going to work to address that,” said Vito Borrello, executive director of NAFSCE.
 
Upcoming Conference
Beginning the week of Nov. 9, CDHE will hold a virtual conference, Family School, and Community, Partnership in Culturally Responsive Education for educator preparation faculty. View the convening flyer. In partnership with Colorado consortium partners, a handful of engaging presentations including a keynote by Mavis Sanders, a book chapter discussion by Adeyemi Stembridge, and presentations by Colorado educator preparation faculty. 
 
A recent needs assessment conducted by Early Milestones and the Colorado Education Initiative identified family engagement as an area where in-service teachers can use additional support.
 
More information about the Family Engagement Pre-Service Educator Preparation Initiative is available here: https://nafsce.org/page/edprep.

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