Research clearly shows that students perform better academically when schools build positive relationships with their families. That’s why parent engagement is a key part of our strategic plan in Florida’s Hillsborough County Public Schools. Although building a strong connection with a group that isn’t present in school every day can be a challenge, there are strategies to make it easier for both teachers and parents.

A large part of strengthening parent engagement is meeting families where they are, which is increasingly online. Students, and their parents, spend a great deal of time on social media websites checking for updates and sharing information, and we wanted to create the same type of highly engaged online community for our schools—like a Facebook for academics.

When our team went through the process of identifying an online parent engagement platform in 2013, we had unique needs to meet the demands of a 215,000-student district. For us, the Edsby learning management system (LMS) was a strong fit to meet privacy and equity concerns, while supporting a wide range of functionalities.

3 often overlooked, but completely logical, ways to effectively engage parents

For any district, getting teachers—and parents—to use an LMS can be challenging. However, with the right strategies in place, you can get your community closer to all being on the same page. Each year, we have seen increase in use; we now see active use from 80 percent of our staff, 45 percent of students, and 23 percent of parents.

(Next page: 3 ways to engage your community)

About the Author:

Since 2011, Gregory Hart has been manager of web communications for Hillsborough County Public Schools, a district of about 215,000 students in Tampa, Florida. In addition to being responsible for the district’s public website, he helps Hillsborough use web technologies to make job processes function more efficiently.


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