Authentic Family Engagement Certification Program

Family engagement is a value, not an activity.

Family Engagement summit attendees

The research is clear: strong family engagement can have a significant and positive impact on student outcomes. Creating partnerships with parents and caregivers has always been important, but now more than ever, school systems are challenged to bring families into schools as true partners.

Authentic Family Engagement (AFE) is not only about attendance at Back-to-School Night or parent volunteers. AFE is about truly engaging parents and caregivers in their children's school process by building relationships and changing mindsets. Engage parents and caregivers as authentic partners and start leveraging a child's first and most important teacher ─ their family. 

Program Modules

Over the course of this program, participants will explore a series of six carefully developed modules and gain access to planning guides to help advance their district's family engagement strategy! 

Family Engagement: Why Now? (The Critical Need for Authentic Family Engagement) Defining Authentic Family Engagement Case Studies in Exemplary Family Engagement Authentic Family Engagement at All School Levels Incorporating Authentic Family Engagement in Strategic Planning Sustaining Effective Family Engagement

Explore the meaning of authentic family engagement and why it is critical for the success of students today. Participants will investigate the nature of “authentic” family outreach and ways to promote their involvement in education.

Leaders will also compare outmoded models of family engagement to exemplary contemporary practices in the field. Participants will grow in their understanding of how family engagement can enhance student achievement and schools as true learning organizations.

How do modern parents view their children’s education and the quality of the schools they attend?

This module will emphasize this critical question, exploring the causes of parental misconceptions and negative perceptions—particularly in an increasingly divisive political climate. Participants will explore strategies and techniques for promoting positive and sustained parent and family engagement.

Leaders will have opportunities to understand the universal elements of authentic family engagement common to all levels of students’ education. This module explores the unique nature of students’ varying developmental levels as they grow and mature.

Participants' experiences will be customized, allowing them to emphasize the unique needs, challenges and opportunities associated with family engagement at the Pre-K, elementary, middle and high school levels.

Educators can derive powerful benefits from sustained and successful authentic family engagement. This module will explore specific ways in which family outreach and involvement can impact teacher and administrator beliefs, mindsets, and attitudes.

It will identify specific skills, mindsets, and dispositions required for educators to promote and sustain authentic family engagement, enhancing instruction, assessment and classroom management practices in the process.

How do great educational leaders promote authentic family engagement?

Educational leaders can use a range of strategies, techniques, and approaches to ensure that their school or district emphasizes authentic family engagement. Leaders can also become effective facilitators of the change process related to helping staff and families understand and adapt to increased engagement.

Portraits of successful educational leaders—including both central office and school-based administrators—will guide and inform participants’ discussions, emphasizing what we know about essential conditions for successful family engagement and the role of the educational leader in promoting those conditions.

Effective and sustainable family engagement requires that district and school strategic planning emphasize it as a priority. This final module will highlight examples and models of how authentic family engagement can be integrated into effective strategic plans and continuous improvement at both school and district levels.

The course will conclude with recommendations for helping parents and families to become true partners in educational transformation in schools today—as well as suggested “next steps” in taking this work forward within participants’ learning organizations.

Who should participate?

Superintendents, central office staff, building principals and other faculty involved in family engagement across the district!

Registration includes (1) superintendent/central office designee and up to (2) principals or family professionals. Additional team members may be added an extra cost ($495/person).

Program Dates
Virtual Meetings

The six modules will be covered during the following meeting dates. All meetings will be held virtually from 1:00 - 2:30 PM ET.

  • September 21, 2023
  • October 19, 2023
  • November 16, 2023
  • January 18, 2024
  • February 22, 2024
  • March 21, 2024
  • May 16, 2024
2024 Authentic Family Engagement Summit

An in-person Authentic Family Engagement Summit will be held in Spring 2024. All registered cohort participants will receive complimentary registration to the summit.

Additional team members (who are not part of the cohort) will be able to register at a separate cost. Summit information will be available soon.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will:

  • Learn to identify authentic family engagement within the context of their schools' needs
  • Explore and learn from exemplary authentic family engagement efforts being implemented across the country that are having a positive impact on student outcomes
  • Network with other district and school leaders who are prioritizing family engagement, creating strong connections for future growth
  • Be equipped with actionable planning guides to help advance family engagement efforts and strategies in their communities



September 21, 2023 to June 30, 2024

Registration includes (1) superintendent/central office designee and up to (2) principals or family professionals. Additional team members can be added on at $495/person.


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  • Debbie Magee

    Director, Leadership Network

    AASA, The School Superintendents Association


  • Stephanie St. John

    Project Coordinator, Leadership Network

    AASA, The School Superintendents Association


Photo Album

Authentic Family Engagement Summit Participants

Pictures from the 2023 Authentic Family Engagement Summit, hosted by NOLA Public Schools (La.)

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