School role in Family Involvement
Schools have a responsibility to promote and strengthen parental involvement within their Title I, Part A programs. There are clear requirements that obligate staff to plan and implement family involvement activities with the ongoing and meaningful consultation of the families whose children benefit from Title I, Part A services.
Relevant, clear and regular communications establish a strong foundation for effective parental involvement.
- 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.
Each school that receives Title I, Part A funds must develop a written school parent involvement 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 involvement 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 involvement 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 Involvement Policy
- Collect parental feedback on your parent involvement policy. 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 involvement. 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 involvement 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 involvement policy.
- Make sure parents have access to school policy — printed in the school handbook, on visitation day (parent-teacher conferences), during open houses and through a newsletter sent to parents before October 1.
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.
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.
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)
Existing Process. 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.
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
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 involvement 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
- 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 conference. 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.
Title I, Part A Section 1118(e) obligates districts and schools to deliver a range of services designed to help parents support the academic progress of their children.
Link parent involvement activities to:
- Education and training
- Participation in school-related meetings
- Activities that include parents in the education of the children
Compliance is Critical. Make sure the parent involvement 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 involvement 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 involvement activities
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.
In the table below, we have included 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 list 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.
School’s Written Parent Involvement Policy
School notifies parents and the community that it has a written parent involvement policy and sends each parent a copy.
[Section 1118(a)(2) and (b)(1), ESEA]
Determined by school — usually in the fall
Parents’ Right-to-Know — Highly-qualified Teachers
Schools provide timely notice to every parent that a teacher, who is not highly qualified, has been assigned or has taught their child for four or more consecutive weeks.
[Section 1111(h)(6)(B)(ii), ESEA]
Parents’ Right-to-Know — Student Achievement
Schools provide every parent information that describes the level of academic achievement reached by the child or children in their care. This information should detail the child’s achievement on each of the state academic assessments.
[Section 1111(h)(6)(B)(i), ESEA]
Beginning of the school year
Title I, Part A Meeting
Schools invite parents to a meeting during which they can find out about the Title I, Part A programs operating at your school. Staff must explain the requirements of this federal program, and let parents know they have a right to be involved in school program activities funded by Title I, Part A.
[Section 1118(c)(1) and (2), ESEA]
Title I, Part A Information
Schools provide specific information about Title I, Part A programs and encourage parents to request regular meetings.
[Section 1118(c)(4), ESEA]
Parent notification is one of the most important responsibilities a district must fulfill when a school goes into improvement. Written communications must reach parents/guardians that explain each step of school and district improvement, public school choice and supplemental educational services.
- What Districts and Schools Must Send Out and When (PDF) This table 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 and district staff and the families and children they serve.
- Sample Notification Letters | These sample letters of notification cover the primary components of compliance with federal law related to adequate yearly progress, public school choice and supplemental educational services.