This workshop was held in April 2019 at the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice Spring 2019 Convening.
Speaker: Patricia Mayer, Vice President of Program Development, Parent Institute for Quality Education
The Parent Institute for Quality Education, PIQE, works to provide families with the knowledge and skills necessary to partner with school systems in order to support their children through school. The organization offers a 9-week class for families that focuses on de-mystifying the school system for parents.
“We make sure the parents have a basic knowledge of how the school system works and how to make it work for their children,” says Patricia Mayer, PIQE’s vice president of program development.
Recruitment, retention and customization
Reaching out directly to families, PIQE uses phone calls and texts to recruit families, as well as ensure their retention in programming. Trained facilitators reach out and check in with the families to remind them of sessions, see how they are doing, and more. PIQE provides a 12 hour training in content and methodology for all facilitators.
The first class sessions build a foundation of trust between families and providers, as facilitators listen to the desires families have for their children and communicating back to families that all parties are present to help each child succeed. The first session also serves as a planning session for the rest of the class, as PIQE facilitators gather information about what families would like to know, the skills they feel like they need, and the barriers they are facing.
PIQE uses the foundational first class to customize a skeletal curricula for elementary school, middle school and high school families.
Skill building for parents and families
Training parents to have the skills for productive conversations with teachers and providers about their student’s academic standing and progress is a major priority of the program. PIQE works to ensure parents and families know their students academic standing, including whether or not their child is at grade level for math and reading.
“In many cases parents do not know their child is behind until it is too late to do anything or, if they do know, they don’t know how to address it,” says Mayer. “It is important they understand what they can do to help their child, including identifying who they should talk to.”
Dual capacity building
PIQE also works to build the capacity of teachers and school counsellors, building off of the Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family Engagement by Karen Mapp, to ensure teachers and schools are prepared to engage in these conversations with parents in a manner that is accessible to parents and constructive.
In Mapp’s Dual Capacity Building Framework, Arne Duncan, Former US Secretary of says“My vision for family engagement is ambitious… I want to have too many parents demanding excellence in their schools. I want all parents to be real partners in education with their children’s teachers, from cradle to career. In this partnership, students and parents should feel connected—and teachers should feel supported. When parents demand change and better options for their children, they become the real accountability backstop for the educational system.”