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Mapp Named Professor of Practice

Karen Mapp, a national leader in the creation and support of school, family, and community partnerships, began in the role on January 1
Karen Mapp
Photo Credit: Jill Anderson

Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Bridget Terry Long has announced that Karen Mapp, a national leader in the creation and support of school, family, and community partnerships, has been named professor of practice. She stepped into this role on January 1, 2024.

An HGSE alum, Mapp joined the school as a lecturer in January 2005 and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2013. She was the longtime faculty director of the school's Education Policy and Management Program and served an integral role in the recent redesign of its master’s programs. Further, she has been an instrumental part of HGSE’s Ed.L.D. Program as well as the creation of the Online Master’s in Education Leadership.

"I am honored by this appointment to professor of practice and am excited to engage as a member of the senior faculty of HGSE,” Mapp says. “My research and practice trajectory has been shaped and supported by many HGSE colleagues who've contributed to the success of my professional journey.”

For more than two decades, Mapp’s research and practice has focused on creating partnerships between families, community members, and educators that support student achievement and school improvement. Her work has emphasized the importance of moving beyond traditional expectations of parental involvement and toward strategies that see families and whole communities support student learning goals. That emphasis was incorporated into the language of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2015, which included several changes Mapp advocated for including the replacement of “parental involvement” with “parent and family engagement” when describing district activities supported by funding set aside in Title I.

“Significant progress has been made in the area of cultivating effective family, school and community partnerships that support student and school success, but a lot more is required,” Mapp says. “One of the most fulfilling aspects of my time at HGSE has been seeing the number of our students who have gone on to research, practice, and policy careers in family and community engagement.”   

Mapp’s seismic impact on her field is best seen in the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships, which she developed with the U.S. Department of Education while serving as a consultant there in 2013. Mapp argues for the need to educate both families and educators — a novel idea at the time when most education leaders were focused on family outreach and not on the ways in which educators engage families productively to improve student outcomes. This framework has since influenced policy and practice at all levels of the American education system. At the federal level, the framework is written into the funding opportunity description for applicants to the Statewide Family Engagement Centers Program.

Mapp is the author and co-author of several articles and books focused on the role families and the community have on student achievement and school improvement, including Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships and, her most recent, Everyone Wins! The Evidence for Family-School Partnerships and Implications for Practice.

Mapp holds a doctorate and master’s of education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a master’s in education from Southern Connecticut State University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. 


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