The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa College of Education (COE) and the Hawai‘i Department of Education (HIDOE) have been chosen as one of only seven state teams nationwide to take part in the National Association of Family, School, and Community Engagement’s (NAFSCE) Family Engagement Consortium of Pre-Service Educator Preparation. The multi-year initiative will address deficiencies in teacher preparation standards regarding family engagement.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the essential role families play in their children’s education is more critical than ever,” said COE Center on Disabilities Studies Associate Professor Caryl Hitchcock. “However, the State of the States report makes it clear that educator preparation programs have to do more to train future teachers in how to effectively engage families and establish trusted relationships.” Hitchcock serves as a curriculum developer for the Hawai‘i Family Engagement Center (HFEC).

In a recent NAFSCE survey, just 43% of early childhood K–12 educators indicated they were properly prepared and trained to engage families in their children’s learning during their training and preparation program.

Katherine Ratliffe, Chair of the COE Department of Educational Psychology, added, “Pre-service teachers need more opportunities and experiences with communicating effectively, establishing relationships, and working with families. The COE developed online modules to embed family engagement lessons into our curriculum, and we are creating a virtual tutoring program that would provide students some practical experience with children and families. Our team is also developing online case study scenarios to train future teachers in high impact family engagement strategies.”

Ratliffe is part of the Activating Educators Focus on Family Engagement as Central to Teaching (AFFECT) team. She, Hitchcock, and Polly Quigley of the Community Engagement Branch of the HIDOE represent the Hawai‘i NAFSCE team.

The other state teams, chosen from a competitive pool of applicants, include those from California, Colorado, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Together, they will develop a framework that will inform both state and local level policy and practice, and support teaching colleges in the development of institution-specific curricula.

Executive Director of NAFSCE Vito Borrello said, “As school systems continue to adjust their reopening plans, the role of families as partners is conspicuous by its absence. Particularly in this new environment, without an intentional, culturally-responsive approach to engaging all families as educational partners, children are at a disadvantage to achieve.”

A partnership among NAFSCE, the National Education Association (NEA), Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the Consortium is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the NEA.

The National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) was founded in 2014 as the first membership association focused solely on advancing family, school, and community engagement. Its mission is to advance high-impact policies and practices for family, school, and community engagement to promote child development and improve student achievement.


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