A research analysis released this week by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University speaks to the positive impact the Home Visit Project (recently renamed as Home Visit Partnerships) has on student attendance, educator-family communication, and student engagement. Home visits are a family engagement strategy that typically involve teachers visiting students at their homes and creating open channels of communication between educators, families, and students. This study observed the outcomes of visits by teachers to the homes of their students during the 2019-2020 academic year, and was made possible by a generous grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Fund – Communities Foundation of Texas.
The study involved 580 teachers in five Texas school districts – the Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Dallas, Fort Worth, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, and Richardson Independent School Districts. Researchers identified these key findings:
Participation in the Home Visit Project reduced students’ chronic absenteeism, particularly among early elementary students.
Participation in the Home Visit Project improved teachers’ connections with their students and students’ families.
Teachers feel home visits improved students’ engagement and achievement.
Participation in the Home Visit Project made teachers feel more confident in the ability of students to grow.
Parents and students who participated in the Home Visit Project had overwhelmingly positive experiences.
Researchers conducting the study underscored the particular impact that home visits had on students and their families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic: “We also found that despite the interruption of the COVID-19 pandemic on home visit implementation during the spring of 2020, that early elementary school students receiving home visits were significantly less likely to be chronically absent than their non-visited peers. The disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic has left many students disconnected from school and has resulted in higher rates of chronic absenteeism across the country; this study suggests home visits could be an impactful approach to improve student-school relationships and engagement in the coming recovery years.”
The Home Visit Project began in 2015 when a group of Stand for Children Texas educator fellows identified authentic family engagement as their top need to better support students. After much observation, listening, and learning within the program, especially while navigating the past year, it was clear how important partnerships are between educators and families and how success is based on those partnerships. The Home Visit Project team therefore made the decision to officially change the program’s name to Home Visit Partnerships.