The call for improved digital equity in K12 education takes on many forms within a school district. While much focus has been on improving broadband access to students homes, an area of digital equity that often gets overlooked is how we parents are expected to engage with their children’s school.
Often districts will employ communications platforms that require a parent to log into a portal (requiring a computer or smart-phone access), opt-in to a messaging service, or download software (splitting parents into those who will vs. parents who won’t/can’t/forget). These types of communications platforms create obstacles for parents to begin engaging with their children's teachers and can exclude parents who do not have access to the technology required.
By employing communications tools that do not require parents to download apps or opt into messaging services, districts can improve equity in communication.
Communication tools that have low entry barriers and allow parents direct access to their children’s teachers have the greatest potential to improve both relationships and student performance.
Equitable engagement can mean that parents who do not have smartphones and personal computers have the same access to their children’s teachers as parents with the latest technology.
Districts should consider platforms that enable parents to receive phone calls to a landline and SMS messages to a standard cell phone. Districts should also ensure that their communication tool allows parents to reach their children’s teachers, directly.
Many platforms focus on “blast” and “mass” types of messaging which are sufficient for larger classroom or whole school information but miss the mark on developing the 1:1 relationships with parents and the responses that create engagement.
Here are some questions K12 districts should ask when researching a new communications platform for their district:
- Does this platform require parents to opt-in to an app or have a smartphone in order to communicate with educators?
- Are we able to measure the frequency of interaction with parents and monitor their responses?
- Are we aware of parent’s social or cultural relationships with schools?
- Does our tool support parent communication in each parent’s own written language?
- Are we open to hearing concerns and voices from your stakeholders?
Now is the perfect time to reinvent old habits and work on improving parent relationships. Investigate your current communication efforts and remove barriers based on the unique needs of your school community. Equitable communication is the pathway to engaged parents and a positive and productive school community.
SchoolStatus is the district-wide communication tool that integrates key student data in order to increase communication among educators, district administrators, and student families. The company’s solution aggregates individual student data, such as state assessments, attendance, and grades in an easy-to-visualize format and offers the option to communicate with student families via call, text, or email. Through SchoolStatus, millions of communications have occurred on the classroom, campus, and district level. For more information about SchoolStatus, visit www.schoolstatus.com.