Milwaukee Succeeds Parent Workshops
Research demonstrates a correlation between parental involvement in children’s school and improvements in academic outcomes (US Department of Education). To that end, Milwaukee Succeeds’ 3rd grade reading network, in collaboration with Milwaukee Public Schools, developed a series of Parent Engagement Workshops focused on basic reading skills to support efforts toward improved academic success in Milwaukee. The purpose of the Parent Workshop pilots at local schools and community centers is to create a learning environment in which parents gain in a deeper understanding of reading foundations and to equip those parents with engaging activities to practice beginning reading skills at home with their children.
The Milwaukee Succeeds Parent Workshop efforts began in May of 2013. Within the first year the workshops were presented at a mix of community organizations, MPS, charter, and private schools throughout the city. To date 46 workshops have been presented to 544 parents.
In-school parent workshop delivery has taken place in MPS, charter, and private schools, including English and Spanish speaking audiences. Outside of the school setting, workshops have been held in community locations like the Housing Authority, COA, and Children’s Hospital Community Services.
Milwaukee Succeeds staff culled data from participant questionnaires completed immediately following the workshops. Based on 272 completed questionnaires:
- 97% of parents thought the workshop was good or excellent
- 99% reported they would "probably" or "definitely" use the ideas or materials from the workshop with their children
- 86% would definitely recommend the workshop
The original intention of the workshop effort was to have the school or site point person reach out to parents 4-6 weeks after attending a workshop to administer another survey. However, these have proven to be difficult to collect. We have collected this follow up data from only 5 workshops, which were very positive, but there needs to be a more focused effort to complete those follow-up surveys, or a new approach taken. Based on those follow-up interviews, we found that:
- 85% of the parents contacted reported they had a chance to use information learned at the workshop, including how to engage children in reading, short and long vowel sounds, and games/ activities
- 78% reported having engaged in specific activities they practiced at the workshop, whereas only 45% reported trying other activities provided just on a handout
- 100% of parents reported having read a book with their child since the workshop and 76% changed the way they read with their children, including a general increase in how much they read, asking questions about books, and focusing on and talking about letter sounds
- 21% reported speaking with their child’s teacher about what they have learned at the workshop
- Note: This is an area that has been stressed more in recent workshops.
Based on the results and the network’s feedback, several adjustments have been made to the workshops and materials, including maintaining a focus on interactive activities.
Implementation/Ownership of Parent Workshops:
From this data, through the strategic creation and implementation of the workshops, the 3rd Grade Reading Network plans for the participating schools and organizations to eventually take ownership of and embed the parent engagement workshops into regular programming to continue the increased and targeted parent engagement efforts.
In addition to the general outreach to schools and sites, in the 2015-16 school year, Milwaukee Succeeds worked directly with 7 Transformative Reading Instruction (TRI) sites to coordinate and deliver the workshops at each school in addition to the regular parent workshop outreach. During the course of the 2015-16 school year, there were 5 workshops at TRI schools, reaching 41 parents.
The purpose of the parent workshops is to increase parental engagement through sharing foundational reading skills information that they can use to more confidently work with their children on reading at home. To date, Milwaukee Succeeds has helped to facilitate 46 parent workshops at schools and community sites, reaching 544 parents. Feedback from parents on the workshops themselves has been overwhelming positive. However, data collection on 4-6 week follow-up interviews has been limited and needs to be further explored. Over time, the goal is to transfer many of the responsibilities for conducting parent workshops to partners that can better sustain the efforts within their education systems.
The parent workshop expansion continued into the 2015-16 school year by maintaining outreach to all schools and partnering with the 7 TRI schools, 5 of which are MPS schools. We plan to review the evaluation plan to ensure we are measuring meaningful information.