Project History

The School Finder project is a direct result of a year-long effort to hear from language-diverse families about their experiences seeking to understand their educational options, including career and technical education.

The Secondary Options Family Engagement (SOFE) Project took place during school year 2021-22, thanks to a grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Our goal was to tap into the insights of families to develop strategies for building awareness of career and technical education.

Graph showing English Speakers have higher awareness of career and technical education than speakers of other languages

In October 2021, we organized multi-language surveys, focus groups, and interviews to hear from families from around the state. The goals of our information gathering were to: 

  • Understand the level of awareness about these schools and programs
  • Solicit input into messaging and information channels for increasing awareness
  • Gather feedback and suggestions to enhance the Massachusetts School Finder

FCSN family engagement specialists worked with cultural brokers hired specifically for this project due to their relationships with language groups and geographic communities we’re working to reach. 

portion of the CTE website, in Chinese

In February 2022, we hosted a second round of focus groups, in six languages. These sessions presented a walk-through of two online tools: DESE Family Portal and the Massachusetts School Finder. The sessions also shared shared content developed by the SOFE project for the DESE website. All of these resources are human-translated, with updates and enhancements developed in response to parent/caregiver concerns shared through the SOFE Project.

Insights from these sessions led to the completion of a robust array of resources housed on DESE’s website and on the Massachusetts Statewide Family Engagement website.

Check out these resources

DESE decision-makers also responded to our project recommendations with a second year of funding for family engagement projects aimed at supporting awareness and access to CTE. In October 2022, the School Finder Project was born at FCSN, offering information and support about educational options in six languages.