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Queens Chronicle

Schools compete in outreach contest

DOE eyes family engagement ideas

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:19 am, Thu Oct 24, 2013.

More than 200 city schools — including 54 in Queens — have been invited to take part in a contest sponsored by the city Department of Education to find new and innovative ways for schools to engage families.

“When schools and families work together to support learning, everyone benefits,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement. “The Essential Allies Challenge encourages parent involvement and establishes effective collaborations with families to support the academic success of our students.”

The challenge is open to all 280 iZone, or Innovation Zone, schools — city schools the DOE defines as “committed to personalizing learning to meet the needs, motivations and strengths of individual students.”

They include most of the borough’s high schools as well as several elementary and grammar schools, such as PS 146 in Howard Beach, MS 137 in Ozone Park, JHS 127 in Briarwood and IS 204 in Long Island City.

Competing schools will develop innovative ideas and implementation plans based on a “user-centered design model,” which guides schools in creating personalized solutions that meet the unique needs of parents.

Schools are required to demonstrate the feasibility of ideas, identify clear indicators that will track progress, and employ UCD methods to gather valuable feedback from families and the school community. Applicants must also show their strategies’ potential to enhance the school experience for families, students and teachers.

A panel consisting of teachers, DOE experts and parents from iZone schools will review and select finalists early next year. Those selected will attend a Challenge Collaborative, where they will receive personalized expertise and consultation to help refine their proposals. A select number of about six to 12 schools will ultimately receive DOE support and up to $15,000 in private funding to put their methods into practice.

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