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Turn forgettable Title I compacts into remarkable reform tools was profiled on We are very please that Title I Schools throughout the country can learn about this innovative approach to connecting with parents.

Key points:

  • Project provides free resources to a national audience
  • Grade-level compacts connect to data, improvement goals
  • Parents partner through at-home strategies

Republished from


Turn forgettable Title I compacts into remarkable reform tools

Title I compacts present a whole lot of opportunity that typically fizzles out to nothing more than inane compliance, according to family engagement researcher Anne T. Henderson. However, free online tools will help you dust off your compact, toss out the boilerplate language, and add in grade-level goals and at-home strategies that link directly to school improvement and current student data. Henderson developed the tools along with Judy Carson at the Connecticut State Department of Education and Patti Avallone, a consultant to the Connecticut SDE for School-Family-Community Partnerships. Avallone, a retired Title I director and principal, also serves as a coach to participating schools and helped develop training resources for a statewide rollout.
The 10-step process is based on a three-year pilot in the state. The project was born from the simple premise that because you must do Title I compacts anyway, you ought to do them well, explained Carson, who heads up the state’s School-Family-Community Partnerships Project. Doing compacts well means making them specific, data-driven, and connected to your school improvement plan. And if families aren’t in on the planning, something is sorely amiss, Henderson said.
“If parents are out of the loop, there isn’t a loop,” said Henderson, a senior consultant for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. “The idea is to move from a school culture where the teachers are expected to accomplish all the change that takes place to one that’s a shared responsibility,” she said. Schools must move away from a culture of compliance to one of shared ownership with families, Henderson added.
Compacts should be a natural outgrowth of your school improvement plan and a way to communicate clearly with families, Carson said. “We keep saying the process is as important as the product.”
To support schools along the way, a dozen folks in Connecticut’s regional education service centers will receive training and support from a go-to state staff member. Those regional contacts will in turn provide technical assistance to any Title I schools in the state that want to join the voluntary compact project.
The steps and related tools, including a rubric for rating a compact’s quality, are available free online and can work for any Title I school, Henderson said. A new website includes videos of principals, district leaders and others sharing about how the process works and their local results. Meanwhile, other states and the feds are showing an interest in the state’s work, she added.
Access the steps, tools and videos at

Related Story:

Follow 10 steps to breathe new life into Title I compacts
Here is a summary of the steps that Connecticut is using to improve Title I compacts. The steps were developed by Anne T. Henderson at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and Judy Carson at the Connecticut State Department of Education, and Patti Avallone, a consultant and retired Title I director and principal.

  1. Motivate and get staff buy-in. For example, hold a staff meeting to discuss what compacts are and how they can help students.
  2. Designate a leader to build a team Choose whoever will be a strong, energetic leader for the compact revitalization effort. Although principals or assistant principals are ideal candidates, don’t overlook other staff such as literacy or math coaches, a teacher leader, or a family liaison.
  3. Align your compact with school improvement goals. Review schoolwide data and improvement goals. Decide on specific areas to focus on in each grade level.
  4. Get grade-level input. Using the state’s model for teacher data teams, teachers set grade-level goals and brainstorm potential home learning strategies that match school improvement goals and the related skills that students in each grade level struggle with most. Teachers’ ideas are then shared with families to get more ideas and input.
  5. Reach out to families. Share grade-level goals with families through a variety of venues, including workshops, class meetings, and orientations, and create opportunities for two-way communication between teachers and families at each grade level.
  6. Don’t forget your students. Make sure you talk to students and find out their ideas about how they can be successful and ways they’d like teachers and parents to help them.
  7. Put the pieces together. Make a family-friendly compact to summarize all the input and plan out how to roll out the new compact to families.
  8. Align all resources. Using the compact goals, figure out what resources are needed, including training, volunteers, funding, and take-home supplies or materials.
  9. Market your compact. Take time at every event and during parent-teacher conferences to share the compact and keep goals front and center.
  10. Review, revise, and celebrate annually. At the end of each school year, review how efforts are going, identify successes, and plan for the following year. Celebrate and honor those who helped put the compact into action, including students.

For more information, visit –Tricia Offutt covers family and community engagement and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.

Originally published February 2, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications