14 SES 17 A, Preventing Early School Leaving: The importance of families and communities
The Italian context faces a high conflict between families and schools; furthermore, other educational agencies operate without any connection among them or between them and the schools. Such conflictual conditions in the relationship among actors (Bronfenbrenner, 1986) increase the risk of dropout mainly in students with critical backgrounds due to socio-economic, racial, cultural reasons. On the contrary, the collaboration among key actors, namely teachers, parents, day-care centres and community (Epstein et al., 2009) becomes a crucial factor to reduce the dropout crisis. This paper analyzes the scientific background, the educational activities, the collaborative strategy and the outcomes of the T.E.A.C.H. project. A sample of 25 (out of 120) beneficiaries at risk of dropout has been supported through this innovative approach aiming at kids’ skills empowerment, implemented by a partnership including schools, families and a day-care centre. Results have been evaluated through tests on students, teachers and parents; a control group of students has been included in the research. T.E.A.C.H. generated a positive impact on reducing risk of dropout (for more than 60% of the sample); besides, results include the professional development of teachers as well as the parenting skills empowerment. A win-win strategy for both kids and community.
This case study points out the pedagogical approach and the partnership among key actors developed in the T.E.A.C.H. educational project (Territory, Empirical research, Advocacy, Comunity, Hosting) in Como (Italy). T.E.A.C.H. aims at (1) preventing risk of dropout in favour of kids from lower-secondary school in Italy and at (2) supporting parenting skills empowerment and their involvement (Jeynes, 2012; Pattal et al., 2008). The project has been promoted by “Il Manto”, a day-care centre with more than 120 kids, in partnership with 3 lower secondary schools: a personalized intervention on 25 students at risk of dropout (migrants, special learning needs, broken homes) has been planned and monitored by Il Manto, aiming at supporting kids in their educational path; teachers and families have been informed, involved, and supported on their competences and responsibilities (Sheldon and Epstein, 2004). During the project and at its end, surveys have been conducted to evaluate the outcomes on students’s performances and parents’ attitude; the same surveys have been conducted on a control group of students not attending the activities of Il Manto.
Results point out that a collaborative approach among schools, day-care centres and families boost the effectiveness of the implemented activities: more than 60% of the sample overcome the risk of dropout, due to their improvement in behaviour, self-esteem, self-consciousness. Positive effects also emerge in terms of family welfare and sense of community. The educational success, according to the emerging impact of the T.E.A.C.H. approach, relies not only on the specific practices developed by Il Manto, but, even more, on the cooperative attitude experienced by teachers, educators and families. The importance of partnership does not concern only the educational success of students, but also the increase of the sense of community, the family welfare and the personal development of teachers and parents. It does take a child to raise a village.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986) Ecology of the family as a context for human development: Research perspectives. Developmental Psychology, Vol 22(6), 723-742 Epstein, J. L., Sanders, M. G., Sheldon, S. B., et al. (2009) School, Family, and Community Partnership: Your Handbook for Action, Third Edition and Handbook CD. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Jeynes, W. H. (2012) A Meta-analysis of the Efficacy of Different Types of Parental Involvement Programs for Urban Students. Urban Education, Vol. 47 (4), 706–742. Pattal, E. A., Cooper, H. and Robinson, J. C. (2008) Parent Involvement in Homework: A Research Synthesis. Review of Educational Research, Vol. 78 (4), 1039–1101. Sheldon, S. B., and Epstein, J. L. (2004) Getting Students to School: Using Family and Community Involvement to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism. School Community Journal, Vol. 14(2), 39-56
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