As an Outreach Parent Liaison in Wyoming I work with schools to enhance their parent involvement. Parental Involvement has always been a part of Title I, however currently NCLB has a specific statutory definition for it. In fact there is a 55 page document covering all the specifics of the law! The Parental Involvement: Title I, Part A Non-Regulatory Guidance can be found online at the Department of Education website (ed.gov). It covers the requirements of the law including Parent Involvement Policies and Title I School-Parent Compacts.
While it may seem complicated, I think that Title I planning can be the vehicle to start getting parents fully engaged in schools. Title I planning teams should have parents on them. Schools should be asking parents about their needs. They should be asking how the school can help them support their children’s education. Title I funding includes a set aside amount that large school districts must spend on parent involvement activities. Parents should be involved when school districts decide how to use these funds. Schools can use their Title I teachers or interventionists to work collaboratively with their parents on ways to improve the academic achievement of the students. They have the local control to pick and choose programs that work for their school and their families. The best schools are finding interesting ways to include parents in school improvement efforts and accreditation teams. Schools just starting out can form a team and collaboratively write their compact together. Parental involvement isn’t just coming to open house and conferences. Parental involvement takes many different forms and shapes. Each and every school with a Title I program has the challenge, and the gifts, of helping parents help their kids.
Believe it or not the requirements of the law are based on the research and best practice. Having parents involved definitely improves student achievement. So let’s do what works! It may look different in every school but that’s okay. Getting parents involved at the planning stages will help ensure that the programs each school provides are tailored to the needs of their families.