A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kathy Burkhardt tells state superintendents that family engagement is key to student success

One of the best predictors of student success is the extent to which families are encouraging learning at home, Kathy Burkhardt, senior director of the Learning Grove Navigo College and Career Prep and former superintendent of Erlanger-Elsmere Independent, told the Superintendents Advisory Council (SAC) during its Nov. 17 meeting.

Burkhardt joined the council for a discussion on the necessity of family engagement in Kentucky’s education system, as well as to share resources to boost family engagement within local communities.

Kathy Burkhardt

According to Burkhardt, research suggests that if schools successfully engage families in education, their children are more likely to earn higher grades or test scores, attend school regularly and have better social skills and classroom behavior.

“During the past few years, I think schools and school districts have done more for families than ever before,” said Burkhardt. “A lot of innovation has occurred as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Now is the time to leverage the close relationships that have been developed and the strengths that have been developed from that.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Andy Beshear signed a proclamation designating Nov. 15-19 as Family Engagement in Education Week in the Commonwealth, a statewide celebration of families and schools.

Over the past several months, the Prichard Committee and its Kentucky Collaborative for Families and Schools, which includes both the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and Learning Grove, have been working to coordinate a celebration of family engagement in public schools and early childhood centers.

A full schedule of events can be found on the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence’s website. In addition to the schedule of events, the site also houses many family engagement resources. These resources are broken into age groups ranging from birth to preschool, all the way to college and career.

Another helpful resource is the Family Friendly Schools page on the Prichard Committee’s website, which includes online learning modules, materials to assist with family engagement and information on the family-friendly school learning cohort.

Burkhardt encouraged the SAC members to have their schools apply to become a Kentucky Family Friendly Certified School. There are certain requirements that schools must meet to receive the certification. Additional information on how to become a certified Family Friendly School is available on the Prichard Committee’s website, as well.

“All of those resources are available to all schools and all districts,” Burkhardt said. “We’re just happy to share them and help in any way we can.”

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