School role in Parent and Family Engagement
Schools have a responsibility to promote and strengthen parent and family engagement within their Title I, Part A programs. There are clear requirements that obligate staff to plan and implement parent and family engagement activities with the ongoing and meaningful consultation of the families whose children benefit from Title I, Part A services.
High Quality Resources that Support Parent Involvement
Our library of downloadable publications and links to organizations that support the family connection to K-12 education will help parents, and district and school staff to strengthen the school improvement process and make the most of the academic support and services that Title I, Part A programs can provide.
What Is Parent and Family Engagement?
Title I, Part A defines parent involvement as the ...participation of parents in regular, two-way and meaningful communications with school staff that involves the student, addresses learning and engages the family in school activities.
Why Does Parent and Family Engagement Matter?
Research tells us that students with involved parents, are more likely to:
- Earn high grades and test scores
- Take more challenging classes
- Have better attendance
- Graduate, AND
- Go on to community/technical college or university.
Download and Print Parent and Family Engagement: School Role
Communication. Use Effective Communications with Families
Relevant, clear and regular communications establish a strong foundation for effective parent and family engagement.
- Create communications content in an understandable, uniform format.
- Make alternative formats available when families make the request.
- To the extent practicable, provide communications in a language that parents/guardians can understand.
- Make sure that communications with disabled parents or guardians are as understandable and effective as the communications other parents receive.
Clear Information As Soon As Possible
Make sure parents receive well-written program information promptly. It is critical that parents receive clear, understandable information, in a timely way, about Title I, Part A programs and services that affect their children. Make sure you include this information:
- Description and explanation of school curriculum
- Information about the forms of academic assessment your school will use to measure student progress
- Levels of proficiency students must reach to meet state learning goals
Involve Parents in Decision-making
Develop Title I, Part A programs together with parents. Schools must involve parents — in an organized, ongoing and timely way — with the planning, review and improvement of Title I, Part A programs. Two activities essential to effective parental involvement deal with policy and strategic planning.
- Planning, review and improvement of the school parental involvement policy
- Development of any schoolwide program plan under Title I, Part A Section 1114 (b) (2)
If your school has a process that involves parents in planning and program design, continue to use that process — as long as you include a significant representation of the parents of children who receive Title I, Part A services.
Comments & Criticism.
If parents are not satisfied with your schoolwide plan, make sure they are able to submit comments when you make the plan available to the district.
Meet or Connect
Offer a variety of opportunities to meet or connect with parents. Schools must offer parents as much time flexibility as possible to attend meeting. Early mornings and in the evening are two options. The goal is to maximize the opportunity for parents to show up for meetings and engage with school staff.
- Outreach is an important responsibility. Schools should offer alternate locations to meet with parents. Community centers, neighborhood libraries and other local spaces could overcome issues related to distance or accessibility, and increase the participation of parents.
Notify Parents. Primary Notification Requirements for Schools
The communication and notification components that impact family involvement must demonstrate a results-oriented effort between districts, schools and OSPI. At different times, communications and notifications could be a cooperative effort among districts, schools and OSPI — all of us have an obligation to distribute information to the parents/guardians of students who receive services through Title I, Part A programs.
What Districts and Schools Must Send Out and When includes references to the Title I, Part A statutory and regulatory requirements that apply to notification, or to information that schools must hand out or send to the parents of students who receive Title I, Part A services. This checklist is not complete, and does not include the consultation, collaboration, technical assistance, training, and other kinds of direct and indirect communication that occurs among school staff, and the families and children they serve.
Policy. Develop a Written, School-level Parent and Family Engagement Policy
Each school that receives Title I, Part A funds must develop a written school parent and family engagement policy that describes 1) how the school will comply with the regulations that cover parent involvement in Title I, Part A Section 1118 (c)-(f) and 2) how school staff will work with parents to create a School-Parent Compact.
Schools must develop this policy in partnership with parents whose children receive Title I, Part A services. Schools must update this policy periodically to meet the changing needs of parents and the school. If your school has an existing parent and family engagement policy that applies to all parents, it is permissible to amend that policy to meet Title I, Part A requirements in Section 1118 (c)-(f).
If your school has an existing parent and family engagement policy that applies to all parents, it is permissible to amend that policy to meet Title I, Part A requirements in Section 1118 (c)-(f).
Strategies that Involve Parents in the Development of Your School’s Parent and Family Engagement Policy
Collect parental feedback on your parent and family engagement. For example, surveys, comment boxes, emails, face-to-face conversation, parent conferences and Title I, Part A meetings provide opportunities to collect feedback.
Document parent and family engagement activities. Sign–in sheets from workshops, and meetings and conferences, meeting notes, school activity schedules, training and informational materials, and communications and brochures are just a few of the ways in which schools can track implementation of their parent and family engagement policy.
Documentation is essential for compliance with Title I, Part A regulations and will be evaluated during Consolidated Program Review (CPR).
Use parent feedback periodically to make recommendations or updates to parent and family engagement policy.
Make sure parents have access to your school’s parent and family engagement policy. For example, you could print the policy in your school handbook, or provide hard copies for parent-teacher conferences or during open houses, and through a newsletter sent to parents at the start of the new school year.
Create a School-Parent Compact. Work Together on a Written Agreement of Shared Responsibility.
Work closely with the parents of children who receive Title I, Part A services to create a School-Parent Compact as a component of your written parent and family engagement policy.
This compact takes the form of a written agreement that identifies specific activities — shared responsibilities — that parents, school staff and students will carry out to improve academic achievement. The School-Parent Compact must also outline activities that build productive partnerships that help children reach the learning goals of state academic standards.
Essential Components of a School-Parent Compact
- Shared Responsibility
- School responsibility. Provide high-quality curricula and instruction within a supportive and effective learning environment. The goal is to create the conditions under which children served by Title I, Part A programs can meet state standards.
- Parent responsibility. Support learning. For example, parents should monitor attendance, make sure children complete homework assignments, impose limits on television time, create positive activities for extracurricular time, volunteer in their children’s classroom and, where it makes sense, get involved with decisions that impact the education of children under their care.
- Communication is Critical
Make sure your School-Parent Compact includes these three important commitments related to communication and engagement.
- Parent-teacher conferenc1e. Throughout the elementary grades, schedule at least one parent-teacher conference during the school year. Teachers and parents should discuss the compact relative to performance of the individual child.
- Frequent reports. Make sure parents receive regular reports on the progress of their children.
- Reasonable access. Parents must have reasonable access to school staff, opportunities to volunteer, as well as chances to observe and participate in class activities.
Annual Meeting. Hold an Annual Meeting to Let Parents Know about Title I, Part A Programs at Your School
Schools must hold a meeting — at least once in a school year — during which parents learn about:
- Title I, Part A programs and services at your school
- Requirements that govern this federal program
- Parent’s right to be involved with Title I, Part A programs and services
You must 1) invite all the parents of children who receive Title I, Part A services, 2) hold the meeting at a time convenient for parents and 3) encourage these parents to attend.
Coordinate, Help & Support. Provide Coordination, Technical Assistance & Support
Districts have a responsibility to provide best practices related to parent involvement:
- Deliver technical assistance
- Coordinate community partnerships with other programst
- Involve staff and parents in the solutions that improve and strengthen family involvement
Best Practices for Your Schools that Deliver Title I, Part A Services
Conduct regular site visits to observe parental involvement practices.
Provide materials and training — not otherwise available — to help parents support their child’s academic achievement.
Enhance awareness and skills among teachers, pupil services personnel, principals and staff related to outreach and communication, and ways to work with parents as equal partners.
Communicate with parents. Ensure, to the extent possible, that information is sent home in a language and format parents can understand.
Provide information on adult literacy training available in the community.
Display the school’s parent involvement policy at each school that parents can view. Make sure each parent also receives a copy of the policy.
Monitor each Title I, Part A school to ensure these responsibilities are met:
- Develop a parental involvement policy.
- Offer flexible meeting times.
- Provide information to parents about the school’s program, and includes parent information guides.
- Develop and use a School–Parent Compact.
- Provide training that helps parents work with their child to improve academic achievement. Include training on the school’s phone notification system so parents have real–time access to information about attendance and achievement.
Reinforce good parenting skills that support the development of academic skills. Show parents how these skills could apply in real–life situations.
Encourage parents to visit and volunteer at school by helping staff create volunteer opportunities. Train school staff to build opportunities for parents to participate in school activities and to encourage parent involvement.
Build innovative schedules for parent participation in school-related activities. For example, hold meetings early morning or in the evening that widen the time available for working parents to be present.
Hold school meetings annually to let parents know 1) they can participate in the development of the parental involvement policy and 2) they have a right to be involved.
Coordinate parent Involvement activities with other programs and community organizations. Districts must coordinate parent involvement activities with these school-based programs and services — Head Start, Even Start, Learning Assistance Program (LAP) Special Education and state-operated preschool programs.
Develop appropriate roles for businesses, and community and faith-based organizations within school- and district-level parent involvement activities. Form partnerships that engage these organizations with staff and families and seek to improve academic achievement.
Build Capacity. Help Build School and Parent Capacity for Sustainable Parent and Family Engagement
Districts must build capacity for parent involvement within schools and among parents themselves. Effective scheduling, best practices and community engagement — are just three of the many ways districts can support parent and family engagement at school, at home and across the community.
Required - Strategies that Build Capacity for Parent and Family Engagement
Provide training on these topics:
- How to monitor a child’s progress
- How to work with educators
Help parents understand state academic standards.
Provide materials and training designed to help parents work with their children.
Hold meetings early morning or in the evening that widen the time available for working parents to be present.
Raise awareness and build skills among teachers, pupil services personnel, principals and staff related to outreach and communication, and ways to work with parents as equal partners.
Send parents information related to school and parent-focused programs, meetings and other activities. Present this information in an understandable and uniform format. To the extent practicable, provide materials in a language and format the parents can understand.
Coordinate parent involvement programs with other school-based programs and services — Head Start, Even Start, Learning Assistance Program (LAP) Special Education and state-operated preschool programs.
Allowable - Strategies that Build Capacity for Parent and Family Engagement
Before you begin to build capacity for parent involvement and make decisions about what allowable activities you will implement, please contact the Title I, Part A office, 360-725-6100, and talk to us about your plans. Here are a few examples of allowable activities encouraged by the U.S. Department of Education.
Involve parents as you develop training for teachers, principals and other educators to improve its effectiveness.
Provide literacy training for parents. Use Title I, Part A funds, if your district has exhausted all other funding sources.
Pay reasonable and necessary expenses associated with parent and family engagement activities. Transportation and child care are two such allowable costs under Title I, Part A, which make it possible for parents to participate in school-based meetings and training sessions.
Train parents to support the involvement of other parents.
Schedule in-home conferences between parents, and the teachers and other educators who work directly with their children.
Implement model approaches that improve parent and family engagement.
Establish a district-level parent advisory council to provide advice on related to parent and family engagement in Title I, Part A programs.
Develop appropriate roles for businesses, and community- and faith-based organizations that support community participation in parent involvement activities.
Evaluate. Conduct an Annual Evaluation of the Content and Effectiveness of Your Your Parent and Family Engagement Policy
Districts must conduct an annual evaluation of the content and effectiveness of parent and family engagement policy. The ultimate goal of this yearly evaluation is to improve the quality of Title I, Part A programs and services. Use the findings from these annual evaluations to develop new strategies able to increase the effectiveness of your parent and family engagement policy.
- Make sure evaluations identify barriers to greater parent and family engagement.
- Pay particular attention to parents who struggle financially, are disabled, demonstrate limited English proficiency or literacy, or who are members of a racial minority.
Strategies That Will Help to Evaluate the Content and Effectiveness of Your Parent and Family Engagement Policy
- Survey parents annually, at a minimum. Include questions that will identify barriers to parental involvement.
- Make it possible for parents to help with the development of the annual evaluation and the analysis of the data it returns.
- Document parent and family engagement activities. Sign–in sheets (workshops, meetings, conferences), schedules, training/informational materials, communications and brochures, and meeting notes are just a few of the ways in which districts can track implementation of their parent and family engagement policy. Documentation is an essential part of compliance through the federal Comprehensive Program Review (CPR) program.
Use findings from evaluation process to:
- Suggest policy revisions to schools that deliver Title I, Part A services.
- Suggest revisions/additions school improvement policy that relate to parent and family engagement.
- Develop a report that you share with parents, staff and the community.
Funding. Involve Parents in Decisions that Impact Funding for Parent and Family Engagement
Parents must be involved in the decision-making process that impacts parent and family engagement policy, programs and activities.
Title I, Part A allocations of $500,000 or more:
- Must reserve at least 1% to fund parent and family engagement activities
- Allocate 95% (of that 1%) to schools that receive Title I, Part A funds
Title I, Part A allocations s of $500,000 or less:
Strategies to Help Districts Gather Feedback from Parents
Survey parents annually. Include questions that ask parents directly how they would like the district to fund parent involvement.
Create opportunities for parental feedback. Listen to what parents say about involvement activities.
Document parent and family engagement. Sign–in sheets (workshops, meetings, conferences), schedules, training/informational materials, communications and brochures, and meeting notes are just a few of the ways in which districts can create feedback channels for parents and track implementation of their parent and family engagement policy. Documentation is an essential part of compliance through the federal Comprehensive Program Review (CPR) program.
Use parental feedback to:
- Make recommendations to schools about parent and family engagement activities.
- Generate suggestions that could improve or create new activities that involve parents.
- Develop a report that you share with parents, staff and the community.
Allowable Costs. Take Advantage of Funding for Allowable Activities
Districts and schools must provide a broad range of services designed to help parents help their children succeed at school (Section 1118 (e) of ESEA). The activities allowable under the parent and family engagement provisions of Title I, Part A are reasonably broad in scope, but generally linked to education and training, participation in school-related meetings and inclusion in the education of their children.
Compliance is Critical. Make sure the parent and family engagement activities you plan comply with these laws and regulations.
Gifts & Incentives Are Not Allowable. Do not use state or federal funds to pay for gifts/incentives related to parent involvement programs or activities. The provisions of Title I, Part A Section 1118 forbid this use of your allocation, as does the Washington State Constitution (Article 8, Sections 5 and 7). If you have questions about the gifting provision of state and federal law, contact the Title I, Part A office at OSPI, 360-725-6100.
Here is a list that presents typical activities that districts and schools charge to Title I, Part A. Keep these three factors in mind:
- This list is not complete, just typical.
- These activities must be reasonable, necessary and able to be funded under the provisions of Title I, Part A.
- Funds sourced from Title I, Part A must not supplant other funds.
Examples — Allowable Activities District Can Fund with Title I, Part A
- Transportation and child care costs, as needed, to make it possible for parents to attend meetings and training sessions
- Meals/refreshments to encourage attendance when parent and family engagement meetings and trainings conflict with family meals or schedules. You can provide snacks but only if you can prove that these refreshments increase participation.
- Do not pay for snacks or refreshments at staff meetings — no matter what the purpose of the meeting — with Title I, Part A funds. If there is no other scheduling option for a staff meeting, you can pay for a working meal — but be ready to demonstrate that this accommodation increased productivity.
- Registration and travel costs for parent representatives/committee members to attend in-state workshops and conferences that support parent education and involvement. The expectation is that parent participants will share new knowledge with other parents.
- Translation and interpretation services that make sure parents have access to school-related information — in a format and language the parent can understand
- Unavoidable costs related to the facility in which you conduct parent and family engagement activities