Families and Schools Together: An Innovative, Targeted Strategy for Removing Key Barriers to School Turnaround
This project will validate a targeted approach to reform that reduces critical barriers to school success: lack of family engagement, family stress, and child neglect in low-performing schools.
The Families and Schools Together (FAST) program overcomes these barriers with multi-family groups that build relationships within and among families and between families and schools. We will implement FAST in the School District of Philadelphia, where engaging families is a priority. We will reach about 4,500 families in 60 schools over 5 years. Schools will be randomized into a treatment group, which will receive the FAST intervention and a 2-year follow-up in two successive kindergarten cohorts, and a wait-list control group, which will receive FAST in the last year of the project. An independent evaluation will measure impact, assess fidelity of implementation, and identify features that foster success.
The project aims to create conditions that turn around persistently low-performing schools. FAST yields initial benefits of enhanced parent social support, improved parent-child relations, and increased parent-school engagement, leading to improvements in home environments, classroom climate, and child behavior.