Breaking New Ground: Data Systems Transform Family Engagement in Education
Heather B. Weiss, M. Elena Lopez, & Deborah R. Stark
Harvard Family Research Project and the National Parent-Teacher Association
January 2011


Breaking New Ground: Data Systems Transform Family Engagement in Education highlights sharing student data as a way to engage families and improve parent–teacher communication. This brief describes how investments in student data systems are taking family engagement and student achievement to a whole new level. In addition to addressing areas where a student most needs improvement, the data can serve as a catalyst for home–school communication. Parents benefit from having information about key indicators on which they can have an impact, like student attendance, growth in learning, and achievement. The information opens the door for meaningful conversations with teachers and students so that parents can make informed decisions and take action to improve performance, school climate, graduation rates, and other important issues that affect their child’s success.

Breaking New Ground cites six case studies from across the country that reveal innovative efforts by early childhood programs and school districts to use student data systems to improve family engagement. Each profile illustrates a segment of a data pathway beginning in early childhood and continuing through students’ academic careers.

The brief also includes a set of policy recommendations to help support the current trends in education that focus on twenty-first century learning and the vital role of technology.

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