Research: Partnerships
The National Network of Partnership Schools and Dr. Joyce Epstein
NNPS was established at Johns Hopkins University in 1996, with a goal of  inviting schools, districts, states and organizations to join together to use research-based approaches to organize and sustain excellent programs of family and community involvement for the purpose of increasing student success in school. Visit the NNPS website.

NNPS’s tools, guidelines and action team approach is designed for elementary, middle and high schools to increase involvement and improve student learning and development. NNPS also offers guidance to district leaders to help their schools develop goal-oriented school, family, and community partnerships, and to meet NCLB requirements for parent involvement. In addition, NNPS assists state departments of education and organizations to develop policies and take actions that will support districts and schools in strengthening their partnership programs.

Researchers and facilitators at the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University work with NNPS members to study the nature and results of involvement. NNPS works to broaden knowledge of new concepts and strategies; uses research results to develop tools and materials that will improve policy and practice; provides professional development conferences and workshops; shares best practices related to school, family, and community partnerships; recognizes excellent partnership programs at the school, district, organization, and state levels.  NNPS offers an inexpensive membership to schools, districts, and organizations, which provides support and resources in the area of school, family, and community engagement, which also connects them to others already implementing best practices.

The Harvard Family Research Project has done extensive research and work in the area of family engagement.  Its work centers on several key areas, and its website contains many resources, research findings, and links to other useful family engagement practices and strategies. Visit the Harvard Family Research Project website.

Harvard's Key Focus Areas

Complementary Learning
focuses on linking families, schools and communities to support success in school and in life.
Family Involvement promotes strategies to support family involvement in children’s learning and development.
Out-of-School Time supports the accessibility, quality and sustainability of out-of-school time programs and initiatives.
Early Childhood Education promotes innovative program development, family-provider relationships, community collaborations and successful transitions.
Evaluation helps organizations get the information they need to develop and execute effective strategies.
Other Research Areas explore new ideas and new research areas.
The School Community Network (SCN) provides resources, training, and tools to build strong school communities focused on student learning. SCN is sponsored by the Academic Development Institute (ADI), a not-for-profit organization located in Lincoln, Illinois. Its website offers resources, newsletters, handbooks, webinars and other tools for work in school, family and community engagement. Resources, activities and tools are available for parents and school staff, and are in both English and Spanish. Visit the SCN website.

Research Article from the Field Linking Family Engagement to Achievement: Steve Sheldon, PhD, is a Research Scientist with the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University, and is Director of Research with NNPS. In this article, Sheldon shares how research-based school–family–community engagement practices can play a vital role in education reform and student achievement. Read the article.

The Partnership Action Team Toolkit for Schools: The Wisconsin Department of Public Education has developed an online toolkit for schools based on current research that offers how-tos on developing school action teams. Schools with an Action Team for Partnerships have a powerful mechanism for making family-school-community partnerships work. Action Teams are an organized way for schools to involve more families in many ways in children’s learning and in school goals. The Action Team’s primary purpose is to involve families and the community in helping children become successful learners. See the toolkit

Project Appleseed: A National Campaign for Public School Improvement
Project Appleseed is an outstanding educational resource for families in public education. This web-based tool utilizes the six types of involvement from Dr. Joyce Epstein’s research to engage with families, schools, and communities for student success and achievement in K-12 education. It has many useful resources for both staff and parents including tips, tool kits, and handouts. Visit the Project Appleseed website.

The Parental Involvement Pledge is a learning compact, providing an opportunity for parents to formalize their commitment to working with their child’s school through a written agreement, which they can complete and take to their parent leader, school secretary, teacher or principal. The Pledge is based on the Six Types of Parental Involvement developed by Dr. Joyce Epstein at John’s Hopkins University. This resource also includes an example of a survey of parent volunteer interests. The survey identifies areas in which parents can volunteer in school, outside the classroom and at home. Learn more about the pledge.