"Action Team for Partnerships" gets parents involved - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

"Action Team for Partnerships" gets parents involved

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- A program in some local school districts is gaining national attention. The "Action Team for Partnerships" is being recognized for getting parents involved in schools.

On a recent morning, some parents at Highlands Middle School in Kennewick were handing out doughnuts to other parents who were dropping their kids off at school. Most importantly, those parents say, they were handing out information, such as school calendars and other information.

The parents who were handing out literature and food were part of the school's ATP. Highlands is one of six Kennewick schools with an ATP. Some schools in the Pasco School District also have the action teams.

The Parent Involvement Coordinator for Kennewick School District, Sarah Del Toro, says, "The Action Team for Partnership's main job is to come up with a year-long plan of how they're going to intentionally involve parents in their child's education."

Parents, teachers, principals, and community members make up the ATP's, which are different than PTOs. The action teams organize events, special programs, and hand out materials trying to connect parents with children. "If parents are involved in their child's education, and research shows this, those kids are going to do much better in school and in life, and that's what we want," explains Del Toro.

Del Toro says one of the biggest problems with parent involvement is how it drops off after elementary school. She says as the grades go up, parent involvement goes down.

Connie Montoya has a 7th grader at Highlands and is very involved in the school's ATP and PTO. Montoya has been involved with her daughter's schools since kindergarten. She says, "It seems like when you get to middle school, the parent involvement seems to drop off, which to me, that's a very important time you really need to be involved in their education."

"Teachers work hard and administrators work hard, but it's the families that help to make the final difference in if the kids are going to do well in school or not," says Del Toro.

To find out if your school has an ATP or to get more involved in other ways, talk to your teacher or principal.