Policy Guidance for Title I, Part A: Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies - April 1996

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Parental Involvement

"Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children." (Goal 8 - National Education Goals)

Contents


Introduction

When schools work together with families to support learning, children are inclined to succeed not just in school, but throughout life. Three decades of research have shown that parental participation in schooling improves student learning. Such participation of parents and families is critical not only in the very beginning of the educational process, but throughout a child's entire academic career.

Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Title I, Part A has been restructured to serve as a means for helping all students to achieve challenging academic standards. To accomplish this objective, the Act promotes the formation of new partnerships, particularly home-school partnerships, to help address more completely the full range of student needs that impact on their learning.

The parental participation provisions in Part A as well as those in the Goals 2000: Educate America Act (Goals 2000) reflect these research findings and emphasize the importance of parental involvement. Part A strengthens and builds on the requirements set forth in its predecessor, Chapter 1, with partnership provisions that are designed to benefit not only students and parents, but schools and communities, as well. Both pieces of legislation recognize the important roles that school, family, and community members play in helping our children to succeed in school, and both provide greater opportunity for these entities to participate directly in school governance and in the design and implementation of State school reform plans. Part A acknowledges the full range of roles that parents can play in their children's education.

Throughout this document, the words "parent" and "family" refer to all of the various configurations of primary caregiving units to which children belong, and are intended to have the broadest possible meaning.


Tips from the Research on Parental Involvement

While parental involvement can take many forms, here are some basic tips from research on creating parental involvement programs that work (Rioux and Berla, 1994; Flaxman and Inger, 1991)


The State Level

State Plan

Under section 1111, the State plan describes the high standards and assessments the State will establish or is using for all children, as well as how the State will fulfill its additional responsibilities to enable Part A students to meet these standards. These endeavors are linked to the State's systemic reform efforts, if any, under Goals 2000 or another Statewide process, to ensure that the performance expected of children in Part A schools is the same as that expected for all children, and that Title I, Part A becomes a vehicle for systemic reform. For school districts and schools, the State plan provides a framework for the implementation of the Part A program. It is the point of reference for what all children in the State should learn, and for how to create opportunities for learning to happen.

Parental Participation in State Plan Development

A State plan must be developed in consultation with parents, as well as with LEAs, teachers, pupil services personnel, administrators and other staff. This consultation will ensure that parents are involved when States are developing their challenging content and student performance standards.

Although "consultation" is not specifically defined in the statute, effective consultation would--

Committee of Practitioners

Each State must assure in its State plan that a Committee of Practitioners, which shall include parents, has been established to advise it on carrying out the responsibilities it has for administering the Part A program. The work of this Committee is critical because it must review State Title I policy, rules and regulations and advise the State on these governing principles. Parents on this Committee should be broadly representative of Title I parents in the State. With LEA representatives, administrators, teachers, private school representatives, and others, parents should be involved meaningfully in State plan development and continue to be involved in State implementation of the plan through periodic reviews and consultation on revisions necessary to reflect significant changes in strategy and program.

The LEA Level

LEA Plan

For a State to approve an LEA's plan, the plan must demonstrate how the LEA will enable Part A schools to substantially help all Part A children meet the State's challenging content and student performance standards that all children are expected to meet. In this regard, the central responsibilities of the LEA to improve teaching and learning are through (1) intensive and sustained professional development; (2) the provision of technical assistance and support to help schools implement their Part A programs and establish effective improvement processes; and (3) the coordination of Part A services with educational, health and social services.

These three major areas all have strong implications for family participation. However, the role of parents and families is referenced specifically in some of the LEA plan requirements, including--

The LEA's Part A plan must be jointly developed with the parents of participating children, including parents of participating children in private schools. Additionally, in accordance with section 1118(b)(4), if an LEA's Part A plan is not satisfactory to the parents of participating children, the LEA must submit any parent comments with the plan when it is submitted to the State.

LEA Parental Involvement Policy

An LEA must develop jointly with, agree upon with, and distribute to parents of participating children a written parent involvement policy that is incorporated into the LEA's plan.

Section 1118 improves the former parental involvement provisions in two central ways. First, it establishes the role of the school in involving parents and clarifies the relationship between the school's role in parental participation and the role of the LEA. This change is in response to research that demonstrates that when schools effectively involve parents, there is a positive impact on student success. Second, this section divides the requirements into three components: (1) policy involvement; (2) shared responsibilities for high student performance; and (3) building capacity for involvement. These components recognize the full range of roles that parents can play in their children's education as well as the need for parents and schools to develop a partnership and ongoing dialogue around student achievement.

An LEA's written parent involvement policy sets the expectation and establishes the framework for parental participation in the LEA. It should relate directly to the rest of the Part A program and to district policy in general by reflecting the LEA's philosophy with respect to promoting the achievement of every child. LEA staff, in conjunction with parents, are urged to modify the policy as LEA needs change. If the LEA already has a district-level policy that applies to all parents, it may amend that policy, if necessary, to meet the Part A parental involvement policy requirements. An advantage to this would be coordinating the involvement of all parents across any Federal, State, or local programs that the LEA is implementing.

The LEA parental involvement policy must describe how the LEA will do the following specifically enough that parents and school system personnel can readily understand the steps for implementing each requirement:

Evaluation of Effectiveness of LEA Parental Involvement Policy

The statute specifies that an annual evaluation be conducted of the content and effectiveness of the parental involvement policy to determine whether there has been increased participation and whether there are barriers to greater participation by parents who are disabled, have limited English proficiency, have limited literacy, or are of any racial or ethnic minority background. To carry out such an evaluation, the LEA, in conjunction with participating parents, could consider developing methods for--

  1. comparing levels of parental participation prior to and following implementation of the newly required policy;

  2. determining whether the levels of participation of parents who are economically disadvantaged, disabled, have limited English proficiency, have limited literacy, or are of any racial or ethnic minority background are represented in adequate proportions;

  3. dentifying barriers to greater participation by these groups;

  4. assessing the effectiveness of parental participation activities, procedures, and policy in the improvement of schools;

  5. reporting evaluation findings; and

  6. using evaluation findings to revise school-level policy so that it promotes more specifically the improvement of student academic achievement, the social and emotional welfare of students, and the school's teaching and learning environment.

    Reservation of Funds

    An LEA with an allocation under Subpart 2 of Part A of over $500,000 is required to spend at least 1 percent of its allocation for LEA- and school-level parental involvement activities, including family literacy training and training to enhance parenting skills. LEAs, of course, have the option to spend a larger amount. Funds that schools spend for parental involvement activities may count toward meeting this requirement. LEAs with allocations of $500,000 or less are also responsible for implementing parental involvement activities, although no minimum allocation is required, and may reserve amounts necessary from their Part A allocation to conduct these activities. An LEA may reserve funds for parental involvement activities off the top of its allocation, or the LEA may require its Part A schools to carry out sufficient parent involvement activities from their allotments so that the aggregate of funds supporting such activities equals or exceeds the requisite 1 percent.

    Parents of participating children are to be involved in decisions regarding how these funds are spent. Involvement in decision-making should take place before any expenditures are made, be on-going, and continue throughout the fiscal year in which an LEA's allocation is made.

    To carry out a joint decision-making process, LEA staff along with parent representatives from all participating schools could solicit and collect parent recommendations through surveys, meetings, hotlines, and so on. This input, to be discussed and reviewed prior to decision-making, would be used as the primary basis for the expenditure of funds reserved for parental involvement activities in the district. Such a process would allow the consideration of diverse needs and interests, and the implementation of programs by LEAs that reflect their particular community's diversity. Throughout the year, newsletters, designated bulletin board announcement locations, meetings, exhibits, and various other methods and media could be used for ongoing communication, information exchange, and the solicitation of additional suggestions for the use of funds. It is usually effective to establish an infrastructure, such as a work team or subgroup, that would assume specific responsibility for the process.


    EXAMPLE--District #112 Parental Partnership Policy Statement

    School District #112 of the Chaska Public Schools in Chaska, Minnesota, adopted the following parental partnership policy. Although it is not Title I-specific, it provides direction and leadership to the district, and makes it clear that parental involvement (of all parents) is a priority.

    Rationale

    It is the goal of School District #112 to "develop strong partnerships with the home". Parents and schools working as partners increase student achievement and develop positive attitudes about self and school.

    The key factor in the home-school partnership is the relationship between the teacher and the parent. Teachers are professionals who manage a variety of instructional resources. Parents are an essential resource in the learning process of their children. Organizational support from the school board, district administrators, and building principals enables teachers to effectively develop the partnership.

    The intent of this policy is to result in consciously doing those things already in practice in a more efficient, consistent and effective manner as well as generating new ways of strengthening the partnership.

    Policy

    The partnership between home and school will be supported by:

    1. The development of an infrastructure to continually assess, plan and implement strategies that build the partnership.

      a. A district-wide committee of parents, teachers, and administrators to guide overall program efforts and serve as a home-school partnership network.

      b. Coordination of activities through the staff development system in areas of teacher inservice, assessment of teaching strengths, and communication with parents toward creation of the best possible learning experience for each child.

    2. Self-study of parental involvement practices by teams of parents, teachers and the administrator in each school using the following seven basic principles considered essential to home-school partnerships.

      a. Every aspect of the school climate is open, helpful and friendly.

      b. Communications with parents (whether about school policies and programs or about their own children) are frequent, clear and two-way.

      c. Parents are treated as collaborators in the educational process, with a strong complementary role to play in their children's school learning and behavior.

      d. Parents are encouraged, both formally and informally, to comment on school policies and to share in the decision making.

      e. The principal and other school administrators actively express and promote the philosophy of partnership with all families.

      f. The school encourages volunteer participation from parents and the community at large.

      g. The school recognizes its responsibility to forge a partnership with all families in the school, not simply those most easily available.

    3. Resources will be provided to principals, teachers and parents by the Parent Partnership Liaison.

    School District #112, its School Board, and staff will provide leadership in the development of clear avenues of parental involvement. Full realization of the partnership will be achieved through the on-going commitment and active participation by both home and school.



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