The 2022 Building Better Connections with Families Project

The 2022 Building Better Connections with Families Project used facilitated small group discussions to gather feedback and insights directly from parents that can be used to create better partnerships between schools and parents and to improve the learning environment for students. The intent of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of focus groups as a tool or method for fostering parent engagement and well as to solicit parent feedback on the current state of engagement with schools. The project report summarizes the feedback obtained from the focus groups and provides information from the perspective of parents that spans a range of topics such as:

• What role do parents want to play in partnership with schools to support students’ learning?
• How can schools better engage with and improve communication with parents?
• What makes parents feel like their voice and opinions matter or are valued by their school?
• How can schools improve how they honor or value the diversity of families?
• What is important to parents when thinking about their children’s mental well-being?
• How can parents build connections with other parents in the school setting?
• Are focus groups a useful way to engage with parents?

To gather feedback from parents, WIPPS Research Partners conducted 9 focus group discussions in the spring of 2022 with a total of 36 parents of elementary and middle school students from across Wisconsin (C.H. Bird Elementary School in Sun Prairie; D.C. Everest Middle School in Weston; Hudson Middle School in Hudson; James Madison Middle School in Appleton; and North Crawford Elementary School in North Crawford).

The Building Better Connections with Families Project was developed collaboratively by the offices of Governor Tony Evers and First Lady Kathy Evers; the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health, and WIPPS Research Partners. Funding for this project was provided by the National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices.

A report of the findings can be found here.