What can schools do to foster greater parent engagement?

How are schools missing the mark on parent engagement?

Parents rate family and community engagement as the most important driver of satisfaction with their child’s school—but districts frequently fail to offer them a voice in the education system… – Alison DeNisco, District Administration

A 2017 study by Rice University indicated that schools are falling short to offer productive communication and outreach to involve parents in the district. A shocking stat is that in a time where communication is held by our fingertips instead face-to-face or phone calls, public school parents report that 34% of parents are ‘very satisfied’ with family and community engagement.

Understanding that not every parent will engage or be very satisfied with how a school is communicating, its important to look at the systems in place that are limiting the school communication strategies. Many systems are available that actively enhance a parent & school relationship.

What can be done to improve parent-school relationships in 2018?

One-way schools can do this is by taking advantage of technology to proactively start the conversations online. An engaging family portal will allow parents to have discussions directly with their student’s teacher, a mobile app that provides parents the ability to drill down in detail on assignments and receive push notifications as well as a convenient option for signing up and maintaining their parent-teacher conferences are great avenues to get the ball rolling.

The kicker to embracing technology to engage the parent is having one convenient login system for the parent. If the parent is tasked with remembering a password for all these different system, all with user interfaces that are lack luster then the school will continue struggling to meet expectations. The challenge is to find one Student Information System that can meet the task of proactively engaging parents.

Check out how schools can get the most of their parent portals here:

EdTech Playbook: Parent Portals

Why do schools need to embrace a Student Information System with an engaging parent portal?

Having a engaging space for parents to collaborate with teachers is just one piece of the pie. When it comes to further involving parents at the district it must be taken from an approach that encompasses the entire school. With a student information system that allows for a singular log-in to visit information on a child’s food service balance, pay for this year’s sporting fees or upcoming field trips, maintains assignment information, and provides text alert notification to impending activity or school cancellation are just a handful of ways many departments can interact with a parent.

Some schools are accomplishing this now, while are not. In 2018 we’ll see even more schools starting to take this approach of further integrating their systems in place to effectively create an engaging school experience for the staff, parents, and students. With an EdTech approach there’s a great chance to improve the Rice University study percentage well over the current 34%.


I am dedicated to helping schools provide a better experience through all operations and am continuing to service hundreds of districts interested in finding new avenues to better engage all school stakeholders.

For this article original posting and more information please visit: www.edtechthoughtsforyou.wordpress.com




Branding for leaders in education: Look for connectivity

For education leaders the paradigm shift has been apparent. Building your own school brand to create awareness, attract new families and retain existing ones is necessary for growth in education. In the public sector environment where there are significant dollars associated with enrollment numbers. The rolling tide of that enrollment could mean increasing staff, planning for remodeling, expansion or on the other end of the spectrum, eliminating positions, closing buildings.

There is a reason why technology investment has been so popular. Not only does it help the students in a digital first era, but it helps build the school brand into one of “innovative and modern”. Parents are increasingly becoming more saavy about the type of EdTech schools use. Whether it is a notification system, a convenient parent portal, easily accessible website.

Here’s a lead-in from the article below: “An authentic leader brand can inspire a community to a create a whole school brand that unifies. A digital brand upgrade allows K12 leaders to take charge and craft an authentic image. The upgrade is part of the modern digital world. The digital age brings a comparable call to action for administrators, who must upgrade their leadership brand.”

In my experience an active branding message that schools should be transmitting is ‘Connectivity’. The term connectivity can symbolize community, communication, digital inclined. It could also allow you as a district to focus on messaging your compliance with EdFi in the participating states – a powerful sign of digital transparency and leadership. With connectivity you can focus on all aspects of the brand from administrative leadership to parent involvement and student engagement.

Source: Branding 101 for leaders in education | District Administration Magazine

Digital Badging breakthroughs

With a growing emphasis on student Digital Badging, its important to be cognizant of the ones giving the badges to the students. Teachers. Digital badging is something that is continually gaining more traction in the education space. For how diversified the teacher role has become you have to wonder how this trend really didn’t catch on sooner.

The teacher’s tool box has been and is continuing to expand. A large part due to developments in ed-tech, giving teachers access to new methods for better connecting with students. A teacher can use social media via Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram. They can create a blog environment or facilitate resources and discussions all on line. They can flip their classroom. The list goes on and on, but the question remains for the teachers going above and beyond their call duty. Are these high-performers getting the recognition they deserve?

If you feel their are some saavy ed-tech teachers at your school, academy, district I recommend taking a free opportunity to join in while this trend is on the rise and here to stay.

Click here for a free Digital Badging Starter Guide and if you want to jump hands first into the badges check out the Future-Ready Teachers Badge List where you can get involved and become an expert in no time.

Further information and how one school goes above and beyond: Badging breakthroughs | District Administration Magazine

Do public school students benefit from PR campaigns?

There are many innovative ways to stay relevant in the changing tide of public education. As more and more charter and/or private schools keep popping up on the nearest street corner we see an increasing demand to focus on what’s new, flashy, and in the airwaves. Does it always need to be what is new or flashy? No, but for the focus of this PR initiative utilizing communication expertise has resulted in a big increase for the district student count. Public school districts receive funding on a per student model. More students = more revenue for the district.

The concept of ‘Building Your School Brand’ could not be more imperative to schools than it is today. This is a great theory put to the test by Austin ISD in building their own unique brand and vocalizing that out to the community the district serves. Only time will tell if this can be a sustained model, but the current short term outlook yields results.

“Austin area taxpayers might want to consider if money spent on advertising and a huge communications staff this is tax money well spent. Austin ISD’s marketing success claim hinges on basic math. However, that claim ignores one very large factor: the Texas city’s growth rate accelerated during the time of the costly PR push.”

Source: Do public school students benefit from PR campaigns? | District Administration Magazine

New CFO Redefines Business Office in Less Than One Year

North Shore School District 112 is experiencing tremendous efficiencies in its business operations thanks to new leadership with a tech-driven approach. Christopher Wildman, District 112’s CFO, has led significant change over the last few months by strengthening the district’s business culture and maximizing the capabilities of Skyward’s School Business Suite, the district’s financial solution. As a result, the district has overcome budget challenges, increased internal communications, and transformed business operations.

Chris uses ed-tech to simplify the business office taking 12 bank accounts to 1.  Less time spent reconciling, more time spent planning the future.

Source: New CFO Redefines Business Office in Less Than One Year | District Administration Magazine

Getting a school’s message across in the new media landscape

While the news media environment has changed, our goal as communications professionals hasn’t—create a simple, accurate and relevant message for quick delivery to parents, employees, students and community.

Messaging has changed from the traditional phone and occasional email into new reach. Through social media and all its power to parent/child school district portals.

All messaging should be concise and directed for interaction.

Source: Getting a school’s message across in the new media landscape | District Administration Magazine