Research builds relationships between schools, Latino families

Children and Families


Posted April 3, 2018 | View original publication

As April Stortvedt addressed her fifth-grade students in class, a laminated poster behind served as a reminder of four classroom rules.

Be respectful.

Be honest.

Be responsible.

Follow directions the first time.

Stortvedt said University of Nebraska-Lincoln research has helped one of her students better abide by the classroom rules. Through the study, “Teachers and Parents as Partners for Latino Families,” Stortvedt collaborated with her student’s parent to improve behavior at home and school.

“I’ve noticed a lot of growth from my student who participated in TAPP,” Stortvedt said. “He’s much more respectful to me, and I feel like he cares a lot more about my perception of him and how he acts in my class.”

The program is evidence-based and was developed by Nebraska researchers and is led by Susan Sheridan, director of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools. It is a structured, problem-solving process that aims to strengthen collaboration between families and schools to improve students’ social, behavioral and academic outcomes.

Learn more about the research online.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, the study focuses on building relationships between schools and Latino families. More than 90 K-5 classrooms in Nebraska and Colorado are expected to participate in the study’s ongoing enrollment.

“We have a lot to learn about the unique realities, strengths and needs of our Latino students,” Sheridan said. “Latino students represent one of the fastest-growing demographics in our country, and we want understand how to best create partnerships that are meaningful and lasting for these families.”

Aquilina Urias is one of the parents who participated in the study. Her son was unfocused at school, she said, and didn’t follow directions well at home. She worked with Stortvedt, her son’s teacher, to implement a joint plan at home and school.

According to Urias, the new approach helped her son stay focused and also opened up new lines of communication.

“The teacher helped me a lot,” Urias said. “My son understands now that he can communicate with his teacher. After TAPP, he is more disciplined and on task. He going to be a better student and a better person.”

Along with Sheridan, the research team includes: Brandy Clarke, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; Lorey Wheeler, research assistant professor, Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools; and Kristen Derr, project manager for the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools.


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