Benchmarking Toolkit for 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated an extant trend toward digitized communications, and highlighted the weaknesses in many schools’ and districts’ communication plans. School communication is currently strong in some areas, notably general parental engagement and support, but it has major weaknesses. These include school-teacher and school-student communication in schools, as well as communication with a hard-to-reach quartile of parents. Schools must address these and transfer the lessons of the coronavirus pandemic to their communication plans with schools back to in-person teaching.

K-12 Districts Nationwide Expand Usage of ParentSquare to Strengthen Family Engagement

SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. Jan. 20, 2022—As educators gear up for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year, school-to-home engagement continues to be a top priority. To unify all school communication and build stronger communities, school systems nationwide — including public, private, and charter school systems — have signed on to expand their use of ParentSquare, the premier unified school-home engagement platform for K-12.

Recent school districts to renew and expand their ParentSquare features include the Pleasanton Unified School District, Napa Valley Unified School District, and the Yakima School District. ParentSquare is the only fully unified product that engages every family with school communications and communications-based services—all the way from the district office to the classroom teacher, and all in one place.

Extending community reach. Pleasanton USD, in northern California, has over 14,000 students enrolled in its 30 schools. The district’s overarching goal for signing on with ParentSquare was to make information more accessible and digestible for families, especially during the pandemic. The district recently adopted ParentSquare’s new Community Groups feature to contact alumni of its oldest high school about that school’s centennial. “Some alumni have email, some just have a phone number, but with Community Groups, we now can reach everyone, with relevant information,” said Patrick Gannon, the district’s communications and community engagement coordinator.…Read More

5 ways to foster family engagement in your district

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to virtual and hybrid learning left families and educators with important discoveries, including the realization that family engagement and home-school communication are critical to student success.

One-way communication falls flat, and families must be engaged with schools in order for schools to create and maintain equitable learning environments for students, says Mahnaz R. Charania, PhD, a senior research fellow at the Christensen Institute and author of a new report about reimagining family engagement. This engagement requires trust and reciprocity–merely sending information home in student backpacks and out in electronic communications is ineffective.

Communication does not equal connection. There do exist a number of programs and technology tools to help schools harness the “untapped potential of families.” When integrated within robust family engagement strategies, these programs and tools serve to establish families and educators as partners in supporting students and student success.…Read More

Demographic shifts require changes in school communication

Changing demographics are creating new school communication challenges.

Unprecedented demographic shifts in the U.S. are creating a communications gap between teachers, principals, and the students and families they serve, forcing educators to rethink their school communication strategies.

Minorities will become the majority of children under 18 by 2023, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Educators and school communicators, on the other hand, are predominately non-Hispanic white females.…Read More

No failure to communicate: School-wide communication systems for the 21st century

The CM-3000 is coupled with Conductor, Calypso's software package.
The CM-3000 is coupled with Conductor, Calypso's software package.

For most of us who remember classroom announcements in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, we recall the tinny, muffled “voice of God” summoning an unlucky classmate to the principal’s office. Some may remember an old rotary phone on the teacher’s desk–similar to the Cold War-era U.S.-Soviet nuclear “hotline”–that frequently interrupted class with a ring loud enough to derail even the most dedicated students’ concentration.

With four new elementary school buildings under construction in my district, and a powerful new data network forming the technological backbone for each building, we didn’t want our communication systems to be throwbacks to 1970s telephony, with no ability to adapt for today’s intercom and paging needs. Our district’s technology team–including network engineer Scott Sibert and network administrator Randy Martz–had a rare opportunity to start fresh and harness the power of 21st century technology throughout these buildings, and we weren’t about to let the school-wide communication systems be an afterthought.…Read More