August 23, 2016 | Tech Nonprofits

TalkingPoints for Schools Launches to Enable Holistic Parent Engagement

By 2030 it’s projected that 40% of students nationwide will not speak English at home. With the number of English language learners and non-English speaking parents on the rise, parental engagement becomes a huge challenge. Fast Forward alum Heejae Lim built TalkingPoints to provide teachers with a tool to increase parental engagement regardless of barriers imposed by language or access to technology. This is critical given the fact that parent engagement has twice the power to influence a student’s long term success than a family’s socioeconomic status.

Since going through the Fast Forward accelerator in 2015, TalkingPoints has expanded to over 300 schools and just launched a new product, TalkingPoints for Schools, in direct response to requests from teachers. The initial product, TalkingPoints for Teachers, is often adopted by majorities of teachers at a particular school who hear about the product from their colleagues. Eventually even the administrators were using the product too, and Heejae received tons of requests for a school-wide platform that would allow educators and administrators to share access to student and parent communication history and help build robust parent engagement programs.

TalkingPoints for Schools enables teachers and administrators to create parental engagement programs across one centralized school account. Within the school account teachers and administrators can communicate with the same parents, build case studies around specific students, and collaboratively measure and report on parental engagement analytics. The platform sets each school up for success with straightforward tools for onboarding, customized strategic guidance, and best practices around parent-teacher communication.

The platform has the same language translation technology as the original product, so when teachers message a parent in English, that content is automatically translated into the parent’s native language and delivered via text message. When a parent responds in their native language, TalkingPoints translates the message back to English for the teachers.

As students enter middle school and high school and have many different teachers across various subjects, it’s harder to track student progress and maintain contact with their families. That’s why TalkingPoints for Schools is so critical. Busy teachers don’t have time to meet with their colleagues to discuss how a specific student is performing. With TalkingPoints they can simply look up a student’s history to see if they’ve been performing well or poorly across the board. They can also track case history around parent communication and adjust their outreach strategies accordingly.

“As a Korean immigrant attending high school in the UK, I personally witnessed how my peer’s education and career trajectories suffered as a result of the language barrier between our English-speaking teachers and their Korean-speaking parents,” says Heejae Lim, Founder of TalkingPoints. “Our goal with is to connect and empower all teachers, parents and students to succeed at each of their jobs by transforming the way they communicate.”
For more information on TalkingPoints or to sign your school up, visit www.talkingpts.org.