Starting Points

Welcome to the Standard: Communicating Effectively as part of your path to ensure that families and school staff engage in regular, two-way communication about student learning.

Use the resources included here as a starting point to strengthen identified needs in your Action Plan in the area of Communicating Effectively.   The Guide to Using the Toolkit includes background information and suggested steps for implementing the Standards for Family-School Partnerships.

Effective Family-School Communication

Effective family-school communication emphasizes the value of communication between home and school that is ongoing, two-way, meaningful, and focused on student learning. It also points to communication as the foundation of solid partnerships and the fact that when parents and school staff communicate effectively, positive relationships develop, problems are more easily solved, and students make greater progress.

Many ways that schools deliver information, such as handouts, newsletters, handbooks, and websites, do not always provide an easy and routine way for families to respond. Even parent group meetings are often seen by school leaders merely as a way to get the message out to families. The most effective way to build a real partnership is to create regular opportunities for open, honest dialogue.

There is one main goal for Communicating Effectively

Share information between school and families.

All families should feel that the school keeps them informed on important issues and that it is easy to communicate with teachers, the principal, and other staff. The focus is on healthy two-way communication between the school and all families, regardless of language, time or other barriers that may exist. Key questions to ask include:

  • Does your school offer many different ways to communicate every day?
  • Does the school or parent group survey families at least once a year to find out what’s on their minds?
  • Are the principal and other school administrators easily accessible to any parent
  • Does the school and parent group make it easy for parents and families to build connections and communicate with each other?
  • Is the school website useful and easily accessible to families?

Action Steps

What Parents and School Staff Can Do to Improve Effective School-Family Communication


  • Engage as a team with parents and community members to follow the steps included in a Guide for Using the Toolkit.
  • Orient yourself to this Toolkit section on Communicating Effectively and consider how the tools and resources can support an Action Plan.
  •  Review and consider state and federal program requirements for family engagement and professional development: such as Title I Family Engagement Policies, Indian Education, English Learner Family Engagement requirements, and Special Education requirements.


  1. Ask school staff and other parents about using the Toolkit for New Mexico School Communities: Family, School, and Community Partnerships as part of a process to evaluate programs, use surveys and school level assessment tools found in the Toolkit such as the School Level Starting Points: Family, School, and Community Partnerships Inventory and the School Level Reflection Rubric: Communicating Effectively.
  2. Become familiar with the Toolkit tools and resources.
  3. Participate in required Parent Advisory Teams for state and federal school level programs.
  4. Design and print forms as an easy way for teachers to regularly report positive behavior and/or achievements to parents. Encourage school staff to contact parents regarding positive achievements that the students are making.
  5. Consider using color-coded lines or signs on hallway walls, or arrows on floors, to help direct parents to important places like the school office, parent resource center, and library.
  1. Include a two-way communication mechanism, such as a question-and-answer section or mini survey, in each edition of your newsletter and/or website.
  2. Distribute calendars so parents can record upcoming events, assignments, and dates to check with teachers on their children’s progress.
  3. Role-play a parent-teacher conference for families and school staff, demonstrating effective ways for parents and teachers to share information and plan for the future.
  4. Work with school staff to ensure that the school website is family friendly. Use the resources listed below: What’s Missing from Your School Website?


  1. Engage as a team with parents and community members to follow the steps included in a Guide for Using the Toolkit.
  2. Reflect on the results of the School Level Reflection Rubric: Communicating Effectively with a team of stakeholders including parents, teachers, and administrators to identify strengths and needs for the school in practices and policies that allow for effective school-family communication. Continue to use the rubric to evaluate growth and progress toward goals for this standard.
  3. Review and consider state and federal program requirements for family engagement and professional development: such as Title I Family Engagement Policies, Indian Education, English Learner Family Engagement requirements, and Special Education requirements.
  4. With a team, collaboratively develop your Action Plan for implementing strategies aimed at this standard: Communicating Effectively.
  5. Map the school’s parent-teacher contacts: How often do teachers and families communicate with each other, what are the main topics, and when do they have face-to-face contact?
  6. Work with the parent group to establish guidelines for regular communication between home and school (e.g., monthly calls from teachers to parents, home visits, weekly newsletters).
  7. Engage school staff, community members, and parents in developing a parent handbook.
  1. Establish a method for parents to review their children’s work on a regular basis. For example, use the internet or manila envelopes to send student work home each week; have a place for parent comments.
  2. Publicize the hours when administrators and teachers are available for parent visits and any procedures for contacting teachers on the phone or in writing via texting, notes, and/or email.
  3. Make use of all channels of communication: cable television, newspapers, radio, automated phone systems, text messaging, school and parent group websites, etc.
  4. Identify parents, community members, community service organizations, and businesses that can help strengthen home-school communication.
  5. Make sure all information is communicated in languages and formats to reach all parents.
  6. Sponsor events that allow educators and parents to interact socially, in addition to parent-teacher conferences and regular school meetings.
  7. Leverage resources and seek funding to invest in programs with educational and action oriented curriculums and opportunities for families and school staff such as Family Leadership Institutue, Abriendo Puertas, NMPTA, After School Learning and other programs.

Resources and Tools


School Level Reflection Rubric: Communicating Effectively

Use this rubric to help evaluate how well your school partners with families and community to support student success. Think about where you see yourself in the process and strategies you use to improve communication by marking the box that most clearly matches what you are doing now. Reflect on the results as you plan and focus efforts on effective communication.


School Level Starting Points Inventory: Family, School, and Community Partnerships

Use the Inventory with a team to review the School Level Starting Points Inventory: Family, School, and Community Partnerships  to assess your strengths and needs around engagement within your school community and current practices for improving school climate.

Puntos de inicio para inventario a nivel escolar sobre la familia, escuela y socios comunitarios


Family/Community Survey

This is one family survey example based on the six areas of National Standards for Family-School Partnerships.  Use this sample to personalize or modify for your school.

Encuesta Familiar Asociaciones Familia, Escuela, y Comunidad


School Staff Survey

This survey focused on family engagement can be used to help with professional development and action planning for building strong partnerships between families, schools, and the community.


Action Plan Template

The Toolkit provides a number of action steps for collecting data and ideas for developing an action plan. Use the Action Plan template to document your goals, objectives, and timelines.


Sample Action Plan

Use this sample to help guide your action plan development based on the six Standards for Family-School Partnerships.


Student Survey

Use this survey with students to help guide your action plan development based on the six Standards for Family-School Partnerships.

(PDF coming soon)


Family Friendly Schools Walkthrough Checklist

The checklist is designed to allow schools to assess their “family friendly” practices. This tool gives school leaders the opportunity to evaluate how inviting and “customer friendly” their school is to families and the community. It can also help to point out various areas that may have been previously overlooked and can be easily addressed.

Lista de revisión para ambiente familiar en las escuelas


Effective Practices: Quick Tips for Communicating Effectively

The goal of sharing information and building trusting relationships between school, families, and communities is reflected in the practices listed here.


Clave al Éxito

This web-based resource can be very useful for school wide use and inclusion on web site.  Everything is in English and Spanish and it includes grade guides, reading log tools, a parent-teacher translator communicator tools, multimedia parent academies, current tips and news, resources for parents and teachers with EL students and students with learning exceptionalities in special education.

Clave al Éxito

Este recurso basado en la red puede ser muy útil de amplio uso en la escuela, inclusive en el sitio en la red. Todo está en Ingles y en Español e incluye guía de grados, herramientas de registro de lecturas, herramientas de comunicación o traductor padre-maestro, academias multimedia para padres, pistas nuevas y actuales, recursos para padres y maestros con estudiantes de EL y estudiantes de aprendizaje excepcional y educación especial.


Guide to New Mexico State and Federal Program Requirements for Family Engagement

  • Bilingual Education
  • Title I
  • Indian Education
  • Special Education
  • After School Programs

(coming soon)


What's Missing from Your School Website?

More Coming soon:

  • Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Practices and Policies for Family Engagement
  • Tips for Developing a School and District Policy on Family-School Partnerships
  • Family Engagement in Title I, Indian Education, Special Education, Bilingual Education: Alignment with State and Federal Requirements
  • Ideas to Promote Trusting Relationships Between Schools and Every Family
  • Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Guidance and Resources
  • Fatherhood Initiatives: Make Room for Dads and Grandads
  • Photos, Videos, and Featured Effective Practices