A $50,000 grant from The Tilles Foundation was used to pay teachers to make home visits to get parents engaged in their education. Too many children enter school ill-prepared to learn and never catch up, resulting in increased rates of school failure and lifetimes of hardships. To improve the academic achievement, attendance, classroom behavior and homework completion of these struggling students, thereby providing them with a chance in life, “HOME WORKS!” trains, supports and contributes to the compensation of teachers to make home visits. Additionally, the grant paid for teacher training, parent meetings at school with transportation and interpreters provided, academic materials for parents to use at home, data collection and an annual evaluation.
Many teachers aim to visit all their students, and all teachers prioritize those who are performing below grade level, have attendance, tardiness, and/or behavior issues, are ELL (English language learners), and/or are in kindergarten or first grade and did not attend pre-kindergarten. In this 2018-2019 school year, “HOME WORKS!” is working with 23 schools, including seven early childhood, eight elementary, four middle, and four high schools in eight school districts and one charter school. They anticipate serving 10,000 students, parents, and teachers in St. Louis City and St. Louis, Saline, and St. Charles counties.
In the 2017-2018 school year, “HOME WORKS!” trained 595 teachers to visit the homes of 1,922 students in 27 “HOME WORKS!” schools. “HOME WORKS!” impacted over 6,700 students, families, and teachers last year. As a result of the donation from the Tilles Foundation, “HOME WORKS!” was able to train, support, and pay teachers to visit the homes of over 500 students in Missouri.
“HOME WORKS!” has learned from their evaluators and schools that for some, the two home visit/two family dinner model does not fit. For example, in the 2016-2017 school year, Vashon High School (SLPS) set a goal to make home visits to 130 of its students; in the end, Vashon teachers made only 15 first visits and no second home visits. With increased support to help Vashon build its capacity for parent and family engagement, in the 2017-2018 school year, Vashon teachers were able to make 87 first home visits and 22 second home visits – over six times more than the previous year. As teachers became more comfortable making home visits and saw the impact visits were having on their students and their classrooms, they made more visits and encouraged more teachers to make home visits, ultimately transforming the school’s culture. This year, Vashon teachers have already made 158 home visits!
The goal of “HOME WORKS!” is to improve the educational achievement of at-risk students. The goal is for all students to come to school ready to learn, stay on or above grade level through high school, and go on to and graduate from college or some other post-secondary institution ready for the workforce and/or further education. The grant from the Tilles Foundation helped “HOME WORKS!” deepen their impact for the students and families who receive home visits and expand their capacity to reach more schools to increase parent and family engagement. They won’t stop until all students have the same opportunities to be successful in school and in life.
“The most valuable part of the teacher home visit is the feeling that the teachers have a strong connection to the students and are invested in them, not just doing a job, but actually truly care about the students and their families. I have never felt that way about any school, and I really like this feeling!” – HOME WORKS! Parent
“Before this year, my grades were bad. I didn’t believe I would graduate from high school. That changed when Ms. Pirkle and Mrs. Smith came to my house! Ms. Pirkle was the miracle I needed! She asked me, ‘Why do you choose to get so far behind?’ I had anxiety and was depressed. My D averages are now As and Bs. Now I am going to graduate one year early!” – HOME WORKS! Student, Pearce Hall High School, Wentzville Public Schools
For more about HOME WORKS!, please visit https://www.teacherhomevisit.org/