Giving Parents Options: Strategies for Informing Parents and Implementing Public School Choice And Supplemental Educational Services Under No Child Left Behind
September 2007
Downloadable File PDF (3 MB)

Contents of This Handbook

Districts have made significant progress in offering public school choice and SES to eligible families since No Child Left Behind was enacted in early 2002. However, low participation rates in these options make clear that much important work remains to be done. To assist districts, this handbook shares ideas and strategies on a variety of issues related to implementing public school choice and SES effectively for parents and students.

The contents of this handbook are arranged by topic under the following two categories: Reaching and Informing Parents and Implementing Public School Choice and SES. The former category addresses parent notification and outreach efforts, while the latter category concerns administrative and programmatic aspects of implementation apart from outreach. While the guide is written primarily for local school districts, SEAs and other stakeholders—including SES providers—should find its contents useful. At the end of each section, consideration is given to ways that SEAs can support district implementation.

The sources of the contents of this handbook are largely the visits with 14 local school districts conducted by staff from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement during the 2006-07 school year. Generally, the visits consisted of separate meetings with district officials, state officials, parents, and SES providers, as well as roundtable discussions that brought together the various stakeholders to discuss how best to collaborate on effective implementation of public school choice and SES. Districts visited were:

  • Anchorage (Alaska) School District:
November 2-7, 2006
  • Chicago (Ill.) Public Schools:
November 29-30, 2006
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) Unified School District:
December 7-11, 2006
  • Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools:
December 14-15, 2006
  • Boston (Mass.) Public Schools:
December 19-20, 2006
  • Providence (R.I.) Public Schools:
January 24-25, 2007
  • Little Rock (Ark.) School District:
January 29-30, 2007
  • Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools:
February 20-21, 2007
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools:
February 26-27, 2007
  • Denver (Colo.) Public Schools:
March 5-6, 2007
  • Albuquerque (N.M.) Public Schools:
March 8-9, 2007
  • Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools:
March 15-16, 2007
  • Baltimore City (Md.) Public Schools:
March 22-23, 2007
  • Pittsburgh (Penn.) Public Schools:
March 29-30, 2007

We wish to thank the staffs of these districts for facilitating the visits, and all participants for their valuable time and information. We also appreciate the feedback on a draft version of the handbook from attendees of the U.S. Department of Education's National Summit on Supplemental Educational Services and Public School Choice, held on June 27-28, 2007, in Arlington, Va.

While the contents of this handbook derive significantly from information shared during the 14 district visits, it must be noted that they are not the result of a formal monitoring process and should not be construed as official findings. Moreover, the handbook is not written using a formalized research methodology, and no individual tip or recommendation should be taken as supported by a research base or body of evidence of effectiveness.

Also, as is mentioned in several instances below, this handbook does not purport to cover all aspects of public school choice and SES. Districts and other stakeholders may use this handbook at their discretion and investigate the topics of most concern or interest to them, although all are strongly encouraged to consider its contents carefully in sum, as the handbook provides strategies used by district peers on a wide range of important aspects of implementation.

Sources of additional information are provided at the beginning of each of the handbook's sections, and include:

You may wish to have these resources on hand as you use this handbook. For additional resources for reaching and informing parents and implementing public school choice and SES, see the Additional Resources section at the end of the handbook.

Note: All Web sites referred to in this handbook were last accessed on Aug. 15, 2007.

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Last Modified: 08/18/2008