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Since the release of Equality of Educational Opportunity, researchers have emphasized the importance of applying the results of research to policies for school improvement. Policies tell educators to do something, but not how to enact specific laws. This study analyzes data from 347 schools in 21 districts to identify variables that support the enactment of policies for parental engagement. We address research questions on how school and district practices affect the quality of school-based partnership programs. Our results indicate that a policy on parental involvement may be a good first step, but other factors—principals’ support for family and community engagement and active facilitation of research-based structures and processes by district leaders—are important for establishing a basic partnership program. These factors promote programs that engage all students’ families. Schools that take these steps have higher percentages of engaged families and report higher rates of average daily attendance among their students. There are interesting questions to ask about the role of federal, state, and local policies in improving programs of school, family, and community partnerships. For instance, though policies are important for promoting school improvement, how much do policies affect school change? This study explores the responses of schools and districts to policy recommendations for partnership programs and the connections between these programs and family engagement and student attendance.

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