Teachers make house calls for their students

Teachers visit K8 students in the fall to learn about families; return in spring to focus on academics

Teachers are coming out of classrooms to build trust with parents.

The Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project is about building trust and helping the student succeed with any resources necessary. It’s also to learn educational, cultural and familial goals of parents and students, and to reflect on the teacher’s and student’s experiences.

The model, which was first inspired by parents in Sacramento, has grown nationally since 1998 to include schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Parents and teachers volunteer to be part of the program. Teachers visit K8 students in the fall to learn more about the family, building parent-teacher trust. A second home visit in the spring is about building academic skills, sharing information, and finding ways to support the student’s chal¬‰ lenges and strengths.

For high school students, the visits occur during transitional times, such as before state-mandated testing or grade/school changes, or to define college readiness objectives.

Districts pay teachers a stipend for home visits and for training time, which includes role-playing. And usually two teachers or a teacher-staff member conduct the visits. “When teachers and parents trust each other, it becomes easier for parents to listen to a teacher’s side of a conflict, instead of automatically siding with their child against the teacher” says Carrie Rose, executive director of the national network.

And teachers are encouraged to visit all different kinds of students instead of targeting only those struggling.

The success is clear. Visits have improved attendance, classroom behavior, parent participation and support, and academic success on standardized tests, Rose says.

Before home visits were conducted in 2011, only 12 percent of families at D.C.’s Stanton Elementary School attended parent-teacher conferences. The number jumped to nearly 55 percent in the 2011-12 year. By the end of the 2012 school year, Stanton’s math scores increased by over 18 percentage points in 2010 and reading scores by more than 9 percentage points.

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