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Best Practices for Parent Involvement of Immigrant Secondary Students

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

The Council for Chief State School Officers has developed a compendium of best practices for immigrant students in secondary schools. The following best practices recommendations come from the section of the compendium concerned with parent involvement.

  • Provide explicit information to immigrant families about the expectations, challenges and opportunities in the U.S. educational system.
    • Some immigrant parents may establish firm divisions between home and school out of respect for the instructor.
    • Immigrant parents should be informed of the kinds of contributions they are expected to make to the school community.
  • Develop communications strategies that are mindful of cultural and linguistic differences between the home and the school.
    • Newsletters and handbooks published in languages other than English are extremely helpful to immigrant families.
    • Written communications may fall flat with parents who are not literate.
    • When possible, schools should employ professional translators to facilitate parent-educator interactions.
    • The use of bilingual children and non-qualified school support staff to translate for teachers and administrators may lead to misunderstandings and does not serve the interest of the school, the child and the family.
  • Encourage families of English language learners to support native language maintenance.
    • The process of learning English can disrupt family relations, as all too often the language becomes a wedge between parents and children.
    • Schools can support healthy family relationships by encouraging parents to teach the native language and by implementing native language support programs.
  • Design parent involvement activities with multiple channels for familial contributions.
    • Many immigrant parents work long, irregular hours that may conflict with parent events traditionally held in the evening. Schools should vary the times of events to ensure that all parents can have the opportunity to visit the school.
    • Another promising practice for schools with significant immigrant populations is to create a position for a home-school liaison whose responsibility it would be to meet regularly with families and to engage them in the life of the school.
  • Partner with adult education programs and community organizations to develop parent education, leadership and ESL programs.
    • Immigrant centers and social services groups that have cultivated the trust of the community can help to bridge the gap between school and community cultures.
    • Immigrant parents must be able to view themselves as leaders in the community and the school.
    • Bilingual initiatives and parent leadership training can have positive ripple effects within the school and community.
    • Weekend or after-school adult learning programs hosted by the school for the parents of ELL students help parents become comfortable with the school environment.
  • Facilitate two-way planning that allows parents and extended families of ELLs to be full educational partners with schools.

Immigrant Students and Secondary School Reform: Compendium of Best Practices. Council of Chief State School Officers, Pages 39-43, 2004.

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.