Commitment 3
Family and Community Engagement

Objective 3.1:

PWCS will engage families as authentic partners in education to support academic progress.


Values Spotlight

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Theory of Action

If we align family engagement efforts to include hosting regular family engagement events with targeted families, expand the role of parents on advisory councils, and provide resources that are accessible to families in their home languages, then increased numbers of parents and family members will have the opportunity to engage in school activities and decision-making at their child's school, regardless of parent needs, which will result in parents being authentic partners in their child's education.

A family that is authentically engaged in their child's education supports their learning at home, understands the importance of learning, assists with monitoring their child's progress, advocates for their child, has the tools necessary to positively impact their child's progress, and is an active participate in the decision-making at the school and District level. Research indicates that the earlier in a child's education family involvement occurs, the more powerful the effects. When a family is engaged, their child is more likely to experience higher academic achievement, improved expectations for their learning, less chronic absenteeism, and fewer behavioral problems. Family participation is twice as predictive of a student's academic success as family socioeconomic status. PWCS currently engages families in many ways, particularly through federal programs that provide family engagement supports and resources focused on academic achievement. In addition, the Global Welcome Center for English Learners' families and the Parent Resource Center for families of students with disabilities provide ongoing supports.

Goals and Strategies

90% of families will report having attended events related to their student's academic progress, increasing their capacity to support their student's learning in school.
100% of schools in PWCS will have parent liaisons to support engaging families in the educational process.
85% of schools will have high-functioning advisory councils that provide families opportunities to engage in collaborative decision-making as authentic partners in education.

Align, expand, and coordinate family engagement efforts by establishing centralized supports and coordination efforts across the School Division.

To align family engagement efforts, PWCS is embarking on a variety of strategies to centralize and coordinate supports for family engagement. The Office of the Chief Equity Officer will oversee the recruitment and training for school leaders on family involvement and culturally responsive family engagement. The Office of the Chief Equity Officer will also evaluate family engagement efforts on a yearly basis. In addition, by 2025, 100% of schools will have a parent liaison focused on removing barriers to access of information and resources, engaging families in the educational process of their students regardless of family needs. PWCS will expand family supports offered through the Division's Global Welcome Center and Parent Resource Center. The Global Welcome Center will support families with the registration process, social emotional needs, access to digital tools, and medical compliance such as health requirements for newly enrolled students.

Parent and community engagement is an integral part to building relationships that support students with disabilities in achieving their academic, social, and transition goals. The Special Education Department fosters relationships through the Parent Resource Center by offering virtual and in-person parent training that is also open to staff and community partners. Currently two annual conferences that help to foster relationship building and engagement are the Transition Fair and Parents as Partners. By 2024, PWCS will expand these Parent Resource Center conference/event offerings to six annually.

Finally, PWCS will expand outreach to increase participation in the Family Engagement Series as well as Parent Resource Center events. The Family Engagement Series and Parent Resource Center events include workshops open to all families in PWCS. The workshops are designed to help parents become active participants in their children's education, to provide the information and resources for parents to be able to work with their children and continue learning at home, and to promote a positive relationship between parents and educators. By 2025, participation in the Family Engagement Series and Parent Resource Center events for targeted populations (EL, Special Ed, Title I, Gifted, Specialty Programs, etc.) will increase by 10% year over year.

85% of schools will have high-functioning advisory councils that provide families opportunities to engage in collaborative decision-making as authentic partners in education.

Expand the role and participation of families on each school's Advisory Council, increasing the collaboration and decision making of families and community members.

To provide families with increased opportunities to participate in decision-making, PWCS is focused on expanding the role of the School Advisory Councils, which are designed to be shared decision-making entities to shape the continuous improvement plans at each school. PWCS is establishing defined criteria, operational processes, and common goals for School Advisory Councils across the School Division. By 2025, PWCS commits to developing high-functioning advisory councils, ensuring that at least 85% of schools will have a high-functioning advisory council. Advisory councils at 100% of elementary, middle, and high schools will be provided with enhanced training opportunities to increase family participation and capacity to serve on advisory councils, becoming part of the decision-making process for their child's school. In addition, PWCS will conduct monthly parent seminars focused on knowledge, skills, and strategies to support authentic partnerships and ongoing advocacy.

Support for Military-Connected Students and Families

PWCS has over 6,400 military-connected students enrolled in our schools. Multiple programs and services are in place to support these students and their families. PWCS has developed a dedicated webpage to provide families easy access to information about all the supports as they enter PWCS, and for while students are enrolled. PWCS was awarded multiple Department of Defense Education Agency (DoDEA) military-connected grants that provide additional resources and professional development for meeting the needs of our military-connected student population. These DoDEA grants allowed for the development of resources to be shared with military-connected students across all schools. Moving forward, PWCS is adding dedicated military family connection support in the Student Services Department to sustain this support.

The Virginia Purple Star Designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation's military. Currently, PWCS has 21 schools that have received the Purple Star designation, which they must renew every three years. All schools in PWCS are invited to apply for this designation and are supported by the Student Services Department.

Objective 3.2:

PWCS will work collaboratively with community agencies and business partners to support strategic initiatives.


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Theory of Action

If we develop a funding agenda that aligns partnerships with strategic goals, ensure that every school has at least one business or community partnership, and collaborate with PWCS community-based organizations, then business and community partnership resources will be equitably distributed to better support the unique needs of school communities.

Research shows that partnerships with businesses and community organizations help school and divisions address gaps in existing programs and help support students, families, and staff address needs that go beyond the classroom. When aligned with the Division's initiatives and commitments, partnerships can help improve student academic outcomes, provide real-world learning opportunities, and much needed resources to better support schools with meeting the needs of students, families, and staff. Business and community partnerships provide opportunities for connection and participation in activities, improve family engagement, and provide resources to students, families, and staff. Currently, nearly half the schools in PWCS have an identified and sustainable business or community partner. The acquisition and reporting of business and community partners are not currently centralized for tracking and record-keeping. Additionally, the engagement of business partners is under-utilized due to the lack of a Division-wide funding agenda that is aligned to a long-term strategic plan.

Supporting Partnerships and Resources for Kids (SPARK) is the Education Foundation for Prince William County Public Schools. Through community and business partnerships, SPARK provides programs and initiatives to our schools that might otherwise not be available.

Goals and Strategies

SPARK will set forth an aggressive funding goal of $10M over four years to support identified Division Strategic initiatives
100% of schools will have at least one formal business partnership or community agency partnership aligned with identified priorities in the school continuous improvement plan.
100% of high schools will have a business partnership supporting post-secondary endeavors

Develop a strategically driven SPARK funding agenda.

PWCS is launching a SPARK Funding Agenda based on Division Strategic initiatives for the equitable distribution of resources. SPARK will identify quarterly fundraising events and targeted resources needed from community-based organizations to meet the Division's four-year goals.

The SPARK funding agenda and annual fundraising goals will support six areas of critical need with the identified target goals:
  1. Educator Preparedness (Goal $400,000) - training teachers and leaders to better serve our students;
  2. STEM Education (Goal $550,000) - encouraging students to learn in STEM fields and providing equitable access to quality STEM education;
  3. Social and Emotional Learning (Goal $350,000) - investing in initiatives that support social and emotional learning in adolescent development;
  4. Innovative and Digital Citizenship (Goal $400,000) - exploring innovative ways to facilitate and accelerate the integration of evidence-informed teaching practices and providing tools that support long-term innovation development of our students and teachers;
  5. Career Pathways (Goal $600,000) - working with business and community partners to provide mentorships and post-secondary workforce development opportunities; and
  6. Partnerships for School Improvement (Goal $200,000) - investing in partnerships between the School Division and community stakeholders to collaboratively solve common challenges.
Ensure that each school has a strategic partnership with a business or community partner.

Currently, nearly half the schools in PWCS have an identified and sustainable business or community partner. Based on asset mapping, PWCS will determine the unique needs of each school community to match resources from specific business partners and/or community-based organizations. PWCS will provide structure to schools and business and community agencies for defining supportive partnerships, setting expectations, and monitoring performance. PWCS will enhance partnerships with local agencies to provide health, nutrition, academic, and social-emotional supports to students and families. By 2025, all schools in PWCS will have a formal business partnership or community agency partnership aligned with their identified needs. PWCS and SPARK will partner to provide training and resources to staff and families to promote partnerships. PWCS and SPARK will build connections to support all students before and after graduation with workplace opportunities to include workplace learning, internships, and more. The goal is to develop two-way partnerships and strengthen the bonds between each school and their partners.

Objective 3.3:

PWCS will ensure honest, transparent, and two-way communication with families, schools, and the community to foster trusting relationships.


Values Spotlight

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Theory of Action

If we improve our communication frequency, tools, and techniques, then we will increase family satisfaction with the clarity, honesty, and transparency of communication.

All stakeholders play an important role in supporting the School Division's vision, mission, and commitments. In order to do so effectively, students, families, staff, administrators, School Board members, and partners must understand the Division's commitments. Research shows that when a school and division engage in consistent, clear, and frequent two-way communication with stakeholders, there is an increase in mutual trust, decreased level of uncertainty, increased family involvement in their child's learning, improved morale, and greater public support. Anecdotally and through social media, parents and families have expressed a desire to have increased transparency in communications at the school and division level.

Goals and Strategies

90% of families will report satisfaction with clarity, honesty, and transparency of communication with PWCS at the school and Division level.

Enhance ongoing and two-way communication with families at the school and Division level.

PWCS is committed to enhancing ongoing communication with families at both the school and Division level. In order to support all families with digital resources and communication tools, PWCS will increase the school and community-based training opportunities on digital literacy. In addition, by 2025, 100% of schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels will establish set days on the calendar for Parent/Teacher conferences/Touch Base conferences/Student-led conferences for families to discuss their child's progress.

PWCS is committed to engaging families by providing information that is translated and interpreted in the Division's major languages as part of our focus on equity and access for all. PWCS will increase the hiring of bilingual staff that represent the language diversity in the School Division and train them to be qualified interpreters and translators to increase the schools' capacity to meet the multilingual demand. By 2025, the Division will have adequate multilingual services staff to effectively support best practices and provide systemic monitoring and support at every school.

85% of families will report that they have opportunities to authentically engage with their child's school about their child's learning and school experience

Implement A Systematic Approach To Ensure Consistency In Communication Between Families And Schools, Including Tools To Monitor Student Progress, Provide Specific Feedback, And Share Opportunities For Parent Engagement.

PWCS hosts a great number of events at the school and Division level. PWCS continues to increase the number of interpreters during events, to include sign-language interpreters, ensuring all families have equitable access to essential information. In addition, PWCS provides assistive technology or other accommodations when needed so that families can participate in events as well as meetings to support their students. PWCS will increase training to parents on how to become partners in education. These events will cover topics such as parent-teacher conferences, navigating special programs, gifted identification, and special education, as well as other opportunities within the school Division.

To ensure that schools meet the specific needs of families in their communities, it is critical that PWCS schools gather feedback about their parent outreach efforts. As schools continue to offer events such as Open House, Back to School Night, Parent/Teacher, Student-led and Touch-base conferences, Specialty Program nights etc., families will be given the opportunity to provide feedback regarding the usefulness of each event using a common Division-wide tool. By 2025, PWCS will develop a consistent feedback tool for collecting parent feedback about all events, trainings, and communications, that is available in families' home languages and that can be completed via mobile device. The feedback will provide school and Division leadership with valuable information about how to improve events and messaging to meet families' needs. The use of a consistent tool ensures that families at all schools are asked for the same type of feedback about school events.