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Programs–Realizing the American Dream Family Engagement Program:
A Team Approach to Academic Success

(Classes for parents in Elementary, Middle, and High School Editions)

SIPAward 2017 Winner
Research-proven program helps parents improve student achievement in critical subgroups and build college- and career-readiness in students!
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Rarely do you find education research translated into practice so expertly that any school or district can replicate the results. And, it’s ready to implement now!

The Realizing the American Dream (RAD) Family Engagement Program is a research-based, self-administered, professionally-developed series of classes for parents that gets results. Available in Elementary Middle and High School Editions, in English and Spanish, it's built on the landmark Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler research model* that explains how to get parents effectively involved in their student’s academic success. The program will help your parents understand the vital role they play in their child’s success in school, learn how to implement an academic success plan for their child and learn how to be a partner in their child’s education through elementary, middle and high school--and beyond. You’ll:

  • increase the number of students who are college- and career-ready; and
  • build support for your school programs as you motivate parents who will see that through smart parenting, hard work and education, their children can be successful and realize the American dream.

Read the latest research on RAD's ability to increase parent engagement behaviors published in the Journal of Latinos and Education.


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Hear what parents have
to say about the RAD
program's impact.

Watch this short five-minute video showing real parents at Kings Park Elementary School talking about the motivational program and what it meant to them and to their child’s future. Click here to read more about the Kings Park Elementary School's RAD Program.

Implementation is Easy and the Rewards are Great!

Curriculum. The RAD curriculum is research-based and written in the most helpful, understandable terms for parents. Your class facilitators will have no problems implementing the lessons. In fact, one Class Facilitator recently said, “With this program, the classes practically teach themselves.”

Tailor the program to fit your needs! The 10-week program of two-hour, interactive classes can be implemented any time:
  • Week One: Parent Information and Registration Meeting
  • Week Two Class: YOU Make the Difference!
  • Week Three Class: Being a Partner with your School
  • Week Four Class: Academic Standards and Performance Requirements**
  • Week Five Class: Success Factors, Communication & Discipline
  • Week Six Class: Success Factors, Self Esteem & Motivation
  • Week Seven Class: Success Factors, Reading & Responsibility
  • Week Eight Class: Your Academic Success Plan
  • Week Nine Principal Forum: Parents, Facilitators and Principal Q & A
  • Week Ten Graduation: Parents are honored. Hopes for the future are celebrated.
**High School Edition stresses Academic Success Plan, requirements and college planning.

Finding appropriate class facilitators. You’ll get an overview outlining what we have found to be the ideal traits of great class facilitators, tips on where to find them in your own school/parent community and recruitment materials Program Directors can use including a PowerPoint® presentation and script.

Getting parents to attend. RAD is unique in helping with this challenge. We know that it can seem like a daunting task to implement a parent program, especially if your school/district hasn’t had great results in getting parents to attend events. That’s why the RAD Program provides advice on how to get parents to attend with all the publicity materials (invitation letters, flyers, timelines and more) you’ll need to accomplish the task. The Parent Institute also shares secrets that all schools should practice to engage parents successfully, like this one that we like to call “the genuine invitation.”

  "An impersonal, crumpled note in a child’s backpack reading 'Come to our open house!' won’t get parents' attention, but an invitation in an envelope personalized with their name signed by the principal, the teacher—or even my child will really get their attention—even if it arrives in the backpack. A few personal phone calls by you, teachers, aides, even other parents to hard-to-reach parents also work wonders. It doesn’t take much more time or effort to make the invitation 'genuine' and the results are guaranteed to amaze you."  

The RAD Program can be the best thing your school has ever done to help parents improve student achievement. Research from the last two decades has definitively proven that getting parents meaningfully involved in their children’s education improves student achievement. In this time of increased accountability and consequences for lower student performance, schools must enlist the help of parents to boost student achievement.


The RAD Program has everything you need to make
your program a success including email support and
phone consultation from The Parent Institute!

Each of the Elementary, Middle and High School editions of RAD have over 500 pages in three binders providing separate sets of materials needed for the Program Director, Class Facilitator(s) and Parents. (Click on the binder images below to see samples from each.)

  • The Program Director binder contains all of the information needed to implement the program. It includes a program overview, time line and checklist of logistical action items and responsibilities to complete before, during and after each class and other meetings, tips on identifying class facilitators with a script and PowerPoint® presentation to recruit them, program evaluation tools, registration forms, attendance sheets, website download access to all printed materials and PowerPoint® slides and more! You’ll also get publicity materials, a plan for recruiting parents to get the best results and ways to maintain the momentum after parents graduate. Each document is also available to download from a dedicated program website.

director samples

facilitator samples
  • The Class Facilitator binder contains a guide for each class including detailed lesson plans, discussion starters, PowerPoint® slides, room set-up suggestions, instructions for administering the pre- and post-program surveys and more!
  • The Parent binder contains lesson materials for each class, a Quick Guide to the American School System to help parents understand how schools work, typical school standards, important terms and concepts about graduation, typical university admission requirements and much more. It includes a personal Academic Success Plan to identify actions parents will take to ensure their child’s academic success. Choose to conduct the classes with only a few handouts, give parents a full printed set or allow parents access to the dedicated website to print their own sets.
parent samples

A Dedicated RAD Program website.
For Program Directors and Class Facilitators containing all reproducible materials, supplemental publications for parents, PowerPoint® slides, pre- and post-program survey forms, access to email and telephone support and more.

Pre- and post-surveys to evaluate your results

Measure the success of your program in three critical areas: parent behaviors, beliefs, and knowledge. Simple instructions are provided for the Class Facilitator while administering the survey to ensure you get the most useable data.

Comprehensive Program & Customer Support

This program is the most versatile and comprehensive, ready-to-implement-based parent engagement program available. Programs of this caliber normally cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop. Now, it can be yours at a tiny fraction of the cost. You will get the curriculum, the organizational and publicity components, the reproducible materials, free email support and telephone consultation.

Research Confirms Effectiveness of
Realizing the American Dream Program!

The RAD program was developed, and is working, in actual schools and districts. Now your parents can learn the vital lessons they need to help their children succeed and pursue the American dream that includes high school graduation and higher education. Your school/district can be on the path to increasing test scores, having higher-achieving students and boosting AYP in critical subgroups.

hoover dempsey sample The RAD Program is based on the Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler Model of Parent Involvement. The Model was developed through more than 20 years of research at Vanderbilt University about what it takes to get parents involved and what kinds of things they should do to help their children succeed academically. The Parent Institute took this research model of encouragement, modeling, reinforcement and instruction and developed it into a user-friendly curriculum for all parents aimed at improving student achievement. For more information about H-D & S model, or to read their research papers, see Hoover-Dempsey, K.V., Walker, J.M.T., Sandler, H.M., Whetsel, D., Green, C.L., Wilkins, A.S., & Closson, K.E. (2005). Why do parents become involved? Research findings and implications. Elementary School Journal, 106(2), 105-130.

RAD's impact is further evidenced in Research to Date on the Realizing the American Dream Parent Engagement Program, a PowerPoint® presentation given by Dr. Joan Walker to the American Educational Research Association (AERA) at their Annual Conference, May 2013.

Research in Press

Walker, J.M.T. (in press). Realizing the American Dream: A parent education program designed to engage families' involvement. Latinos and Education. Tentative publication date: January 2017, Volume 16, No. 1.

Since the Realizing the American Dream (RAD) program began, RAD has graduated over 35,000 parents. It has been offered over 500 times in approximately 225 unique schools in over 50 school districts. [Abstract]

Independent Research 2011 and 2013

Independent research* conducted at school sites currently implementing the RAD curriculum shows that the program positively influenced parents in their parent involvement beliefs, knowledge and behavior.

A total of 1605 parents in 26 different schools attended the RAD program in the Fall of 2011. A total of 1510 parents in 38 different schools attended the Spring 2012 RAD program. Using pre- and post-survey instruments focused on 32 items keyed to RAD program objectives, researchers were able to achieve a matched data pair of survey responses for 1245 parents in Fall 2011, representing a robust 78% response rate. In Spring 2012 there were matched data pairs for 1126 parents representing a response rate of 75%. Demographics data show that 91% of the matched pairs in both Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 were of Hispanic ethnicity. Parents were asked about their parent involvement beliefs, knowledge and behaviors before and after the RAD program.

Parents' Beliefs About Parent Involvement

The study found that the RAD program positively influenced parents' beliefs that they can make a difference in many aspects of their child's education with these four items showing the most significant and meaningful change from the beginning to the end of the program:

  • My child spends more of his/her time learning at home than at school
  • My child's principal, teacher(s) and other school staff cannot make sure my child will succeed academically without working with me as a partner
  • I am my child's most important teacher
  • Other people [do not] have more influence on my child's grades than I do.

Parents' Knowledge About Parent Involvement

The research shows that the RAD program had its biggest impact on parents‚ knowledge of how schools work and how they can be a partner to their child‚s school. All of the 10 survey items assessing parents‚ knowledge changed significantly from pre- to post-program in Fall 2011. Six of the 10 survey items changed significantly in Spring 2012. The largest changes were found for parents‚ understanding of the following areas, which are heavily emphasized in the RAD curriculum:

  • I know the steps required to help my child succeed academically and go to a university.
  • I know how to work with my child's teacher(s), principal, counselor and parent liaison.
  • I understand the important academic standards and requirements my child must meet to succeed academically.
  • I understand the important terms and concepts necessary to help my child graduate from high school prepared to get a university education.
  • I know some good ways to build my child's reading skills at home
  • I know some good ways to maintain two-way communication with my child.

Parents' Involvement Behaviors

Can RAD positively influence parents' involvement behaviors? Research on the RAD program found that it can! In Fall 2011, all of the involvement behavior items on the research survey showed significant positive change from the beginning to the end of the program. One item in particular—the centerpiece of the RAD curriculum—showed remarkable change in both Fall 2011 and Spring 2012:

“I have made a plan to make sure my child succeeds academically and graduates from high school prepared to get a university education.”

In Spring 2012 six of the 10 survey items reached significance. In both Fall 2011 and Spring 2012, these parent behavior items showed significant and meaningful increases:

  • I keep in touch with my child's teacher about my child's academic performance.
  • I keep in touch with my child's teacher about my child's behavior.
  • I make sure my child attends school everyday.
  • I talk with my child about my expectations for his or her success.
  • I monitor my child’s homework regularly.
  • I encourage my child to read regularly.

In short, independent professional research finds that the RAD Program can positively influence parents in their beliefs, knowledge and behaviors about parent involvement.

Meta-analyses of published research show that increased parent involvement leads to improved student achievement. Schools and districts would be wise to implement the RAD curriculum every year with their parents.

Fall 2013 Research Update:

Results for 960 parents completing RAD classes in the Fall 2013 replicated prior work on parents completing RAD classes in Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 examining RAD's impact on parents' involvement-related beliefs, knowledge and behavior. Small gains were made in beliefs, large gains were made in knowledge and moderate gains were observed for behavior. Comparison of high school, middle school and elementary school parents revealed more similarities than differences among the three groups. That is, the RAD curriculum appears to have a similar impact on parents regardless of a child’s developmental level. Moreover, family income and level of education played only a minor role in predicting parents' involvement behaviors. The factors that most robustly predicted parents’ involvement behaviors were factors that are within the grasp of all families and included parents' knowledge of how to be effectively involved and their belief that their involvement matters. Parents, despite socio-economic level, can be more productively involved in their child’s schooling if shown how.

*Independent research conducted by Dr. Joan Walker, Associate Professor of Education, PACE University, Westchester, New York.

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For assistance with your order, please call The Parent Institute at 1-800-756-5525 and read them your session ID: W26108