Collaboration on Research with Brookings

The Center for Universal of Education at Brookings has developed and is piloting a set of conversation starter tools. It is a follow-up to the work done on the Playbook for Family-School Engagement that we were providing inspiration for and our Director contributed to it as a reviewer. During the summer and autumn of 2023, our researchers are piloting the tools in Hungary, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands.

The Conversation Starter Tools (CSTs) are a set of tools developed by CUE to guide school, jurisdiction, or community teams in facilitating data-informed conversations where they can talk about their beliefs on education and build relational trust. The Conversation Starter Tools guide teams in identifying educators’, parents’, and students’ beliefs on the purpose of school and what makes a quality education; valued pedagogical approaches; and level of trust, alignment, and engagement. The surveys data can vary depending on demographics, such as by gender and education levels of parents. These surveys do not judge or assess schools, but rather help teams understand beliefs and experiences to help inform more participatory and inclusive approaches to promoting family engagement.

For teams wanting to facilitate data-informed conversations, the process can be summarized in 4 steps:

  1. Contextualize: This step involves determining why teams want to conduct surveys (purpose), who the respondents are (demographics + literacy levels), how the surveys will be administered (remote, in-person, hybrid), what needs to be modified for context (especially ensuring the surveys are translated into relevant languages), and whether findings will be used for research purposes.
  2. Survey: Surveys are administered to parents, teachers, and students (for use with students over 14 years) either in-person or remotely. Data is analyzed and visualized.
  3. Share data & discuss: Teams share findings from the surveys with respondent groups. Conversations are then organized among various actors to discuss the findings of the survey and their reflections and takeaways.
  4. Strategize: Conversations are used to guide teams in building strategies to increase family engagement in their communities.

The current research is testing how the tools work in different schools and school systems and also how to translate various notions to local languages for better understanding. You can find the American version here:

We will share our research outcomes with you towards the end of the year.

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