Reaching Out to Wary Parents
Macdonough Elementary School in Middletown, Connecticut, serves 80 percent low-income students (the highest
percentage in the Middletown School District). In 2008, Macdonough had high staff turnover and a reputation for
being a "not-so-good" school in a run-down, working-class neighborhood. Although the school had recently improved
under the leadership of principal Jon Romeo, word had not gone out beyond the immediate neighborhood. A
redistricting plan to improve racial balance was poised to move one-fourth of the district's elementary students to
different schools, including moving many new kids to Macdonough. Parents packed school board meetings to
Romeo realized that Macdonough had to create positive relationships with new families fast and assure them that it
would provide high-quality academics. When Romeo first heard about the program to improve Title I compacts, "To
be honest, I groaned," he admitted. The school's compact hadn't been revised in a while and was sitting on the shelf.
But the school needed to work more closely with families to close the achievement gap between its middleclass and
low-income students. Romeo realized that co-creating a compact was a way to start; so he assembled a team of
teachers, curriculum specialists, and parents to take this on.
Sample School-Family Compact
1st Grade Teachers Will
Conduct daily small-group reading
Read aloud each day to students.
Provide take-home reading materials for
Provide homework that supports topics
learned at school.
Take weekly trips to the school library.
Keep families informed of children's reading
progress and ways to support learning at
1st Grade Families Will
Make reading a daily part of
Ask children questions about
books they're reading.
Visit the local library on a
assignments with students.
Attend family literacy events
at Macdonough School.
Stay in touch with teachers
about reading progress.
Macdonough Elementary School, Middletown, Connecticut
Drawing on what they learned at the 2008 Compact Conference and on help from consultant Patti Avallone,
Macdonough's teachers invited families to family-friendly evening learning events, such as an author's tea, organized
by grade level. Romeo confessed, "We were afraid if we mentioned compacts they'd stay away. We enticed them
with a fun event featuring their children."