PROJECT COORDINATOR: Dr. Janet Brown
The Family Literacy Project was developed in 1999 as a result of the passage of the Proposition 227 Initiative in California. The initiative provided funds to school districts for the establishment of Community-Based English Tutoring (CBET) programs. The goal was to provide English language instruction to parents or other members of the community who pledged to provide personal English language tutoring to school children with limited English proficiency. Research suggests that parents/guardians play an integral role in promoting students' educational success. Hence, the Gevirtz Research Center and its Santa Barbara School Districts' partners developed a model program that addressed the state initiative and also focused on the family in promoting student literacy.
The following objectives were established for the Family Literacy Project:
The Family Literacy Project was a holistic model, focusing on the family, with the ultimate goal of increasing children's levels of literacy. It fostered parental participation in the educational activities of their children by building on the strengths of the parents.
Since Santa Barbara Schools typically serve a large Hispanic/Latino student population, the majority of the students were designated as Limited English Proficient in language fluency, and many of their parents spoke only Spanish. The program assisted these parents in improving their English language skills. Simultaneously, it helped their children improve their academic skills.
Children and parents attended evening sessions together and both received educational services. Parents attended the program for two hours, two nights per week. Parents and children worked on homework during the Parent and Child Together (PACT) time. Also, child care was provided for the children. The program included the following components:
The research study presented a successful model for examining how the promotion of various parent support strategies can assist language minority children in their academic achievement and demonstrated that the goal can be achieved through a school-based program that includes components of English language and literacy development, homework center, and parent-school connection.
Research for the Family Literacy Project was conducted from 1999 to 2003 in the Santa Barbara School Districts. The in-depth research evaluation explored the results of implementation of the Family Literacy Project at seven elementary schools in Santa Barbara. The four-year research study of the Family Literacy Project was conducted by Dr. Hsiu-Zu Ho and Dr. Carol Dixon. Dr. Janet Brown was the Project Coordinator.
The evaluation component of the Family Literacy Project assessed the project's impact on participating students and their parents by comparing their outcomes to those of a control group (a matched sample from participating schools). Researchers used multiple methods in their data collection procedures. Quantitative data included pre- and post-test scores, writing samples, and surveys. Qualitative data included interviews of video taped class sessions, and field notes. Data were analyzed and triangulated to determine the findings.
Quantitative measures completed each year demonstrated significant improvement in one or more measures. This suggested that the project was successful in supporting increases in literacy including English writing fluency, comprehension, understanding direction, and parents’ facility to help their children with schoolwork. The consistent, significant improvements made by the participants on the Directions Assessment were especially noteworthy. Participants were better able to understand and generate responses to English language directions such as those on their children’s homework assignments, and therefore assist them with their homework. The results also suggested that the Family Literacy Project improved the children’s academic achievement.
The parents’ focus group discussions showed that participants felt they had gained strategies and skills for helping their children with schoolwork.
Qualitative findings were also positive. They indicated that the participants found the instruction to be beneficial.
Overall, the study identified specific strategies to promote English literacy growth and increase school connectedness in language minority families as well as how the model can be adapted to local school conditions. The Family Literacy received widespread recognition and continues to be disseminated.