Commissioner's Parents Advisory Council Virtual Meeting: June 9, 2021At its June 9 virtual meeting, the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Commissioner’s Parents Advisory Council (PAC) provided feedback on proposed updates to “The Kentucky Family and School Partnership Guide,” previously known as “The Missing Piece of the Proficiency Puzzle,” a document designed to support schools and districts with implementing best practices for parent engagement.

This report originally was developed by the PAC in 2006 under the guidance of former education commissioner Gene Wilhoit to standardize family engagement, said Brooke Gill, director of family engagement with The Prichard Committee.

“We see something similar in other states, now fast forward to 2021, but for 2006, that was groundbreaking,” Gill added. “That was something other states were not doing at all. … the Missing Piece just took us even farther ahead than other states and did a lot for our families and schools.”

After the initial work by the PAC in 2006, the council released the report in 2007. Gill said many schools and districts throughout the Commonwealth still are using the original report to this day.

“School-based decision making boards and councils still use it as their guiding document,” she said, adding that many other parent leadership organizations are using the report as a framework for training and instruction. “It was really nice to hear that all of that work and all of that commitment did not go sit on a shelf and collect dust. People really got into it and used it.”

Though The Missing Piece of the Proficiency Puzzle has proved to be a valuable tool for Kentucky’s education community, Gill said the report is “a little outdated.”

“Some of the federal and state laws that it references have been changed,” she explained.

After looking into recommendations put forward by the PAC back in 2006, the Prichard Committee’s Kentucky Collaborative for Families and Schools felt the report needed to be revised to act on these comments.  The original version of The Missing Piece of the Proficiency Puzzle does not go into much detail on equity or the need for student voice, and the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in the need to look at how Kentucky’s education community measures and holds itself accountable to family and school partnership efforts, Gill said.

“We really need to look at how we standardize and access this across our different districts,” she said. “And it’s time to update some of this language, especially when it comes to equity.”

PAC member Carie Kizziar recommended the revision process be as inclusive as possible by reaching out to diverse communities throughout the state.

“That is part of what we want to ensure through you all and through our different focus groups,” Gill said. “Also, student voice is another big concern of ours. We want the students to be at the table as much as the families, as well.”

Stacie Strotman, director of community and family engagement for Covington Independent, suggested developing targeted supplemental materials to accompany the final version of the report.

“Depending on where the districts are, there are different needs and different strategies that would work best,” Strotman said. “It would be helpful if we had some supplemental materials … to help put this into practice. Supplements that meet the needs of the different regions of our state would be helpful.”

PAC member Rhonda Logsdon, representing the Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network, said she hopes that The Missing Piece of the Proficiency Puzzle, as well as any potential supplemental resources, will help foster conversations within Kentucky’s education community, ultimately leading to positive change for students.

“If we don’t get people talking about this together, you’re never going to see the movement,” Logsdon said. “… This is never going to work if we’re not all at the same table and having the conversations and valuing one another.”

The report will feature family engagement self-assessments for schools and families and a family engagement digital playbook. The playbook will provide concrete strategies to assist schools and districts in reaching more families, including evidence-based and researched-informed practices to build relationships within the school community.

Gill expects to have a draft of The Kentucky Family and School Partnership Guide developed by Aug. 1, with the plan being to test the report with 50 schools in September. The final version will be released to the public on Nov. 15.

The PAC will continue its revision work at its next meeting on Sept. 8.