Involving families as partners in the education process is critical throughout a child’s academic career. When families support learning, children are more successful in school, and school success helps children become successful adults. The district must provide opportunities for families to actively participate in the planning, implementation, and review of school and district Title I, Part A programs. The following material is meant to provide an overview of the authorizing statute and should be used in conjunction with the USED Non-Regulatory Guidance for Title I Parent Involvement
All Title I schools must convene an annual meeting at a convenient time and invite parents of participating children. The meeting should inform parents of their school’s participation in Title I, Part A, explain the requirements of parent and family engagement, and the parent’s right to be involved. Best practices regarding the annual meeting are:
- Offer a flexible number of meetings (before or after school and evenings).
- Provide transportation, childcare, or home visits if necessary.
- Involve parents in an organized, ongoing, and timely way with the planning, review, and improvement of the Title I, Part A program. This includes the planning, review, and improvement of the school parent and family engagement policy and the joint development of the schoolwide [ESSA Section 1114(b)(2)] or targeted assistance program plan.
- Provide parents with timely information about the Title I program; a description and explanation of the curriculum, the forms of academic assessment including a definition of proficiency, opportunities for regular meetings, to participate in decisions relating to the education of their children, and the opportunity to respond to any suggestions.
- Provide an opportunity for parents to submit comments on the schoolwide program plan once the plan is made available to the district.
ESSA 1116(e)(1-5) explains that to ensure effective engagement of parents as well as support a partnership among the school, parents, and the community to improve student academic achievement, each district and school must:
- Assist parents in understanding state academic content standards, state academic achievement standards, state and local academic assessments, the requirements of the Title I, Part A program, and how to monitor their child’s progress and work with educators to improve the achievement of their children.
- Provide training and materials to help parents work with their children to improve their achievement, such as literacy and technology training.
- Train staff with the assistance of parents on how to reach out to, communicate, and work with parents as partners in their children’s education, thereby building ties between the parents and the school.
- Implement and coordinate parent programs and activities, such as parent resource centers that encourage and support parents in participating in the education of their children.
- Ensure information about school activities and meetings is provided to parents in a format and language they can understand.
- Coordinate and integrate parent and family engagement programs with early childhood education programs, Head Start, and public preschools to support parents in helping in their children’s education.
ESSA 1116(e)(6-13) provides additional suggestions in building engagement, stating the district may:
- Involve parents in the development of training for staff to improve the effectiveness of the training.
- Pay reasonable and necessary expenses associated with local parent and family engagement activities. This may include providing transportation and childcare to enable parents to participate in school-related meetings and trainings.
- Offer meetings at a variety of times and conduct in-home conferences with parents who are unable to attend such conferences at school.
- Adopt and implement model approaches to improve parent and family engagement.
- Provide support for parent and family engagement as requested by parents.
- Establish a districtwide parent advisory council and involve community organizations and businesses in parent and family engagement activities.
- Train parents to help promote the involvement of other parents.
- Provide literacy training if no other funds are available for training.
District Parent and Family Engagement Policy
Each district receiving Title I, Part A funds must develop a written parent and family engagement policy. The policy is developed jointly, agreed upon, and distributed to parents of participating children. The policy should be reviewed (and revised as needed) with parents of participating children at the district’s annual Title I meeting. Documentation of the review and revisions should be on file in the district Title I coordinator’s office.
A written district parent and family engagement policy must establish expectations for parent and family engagement and describe how the district will:
- Involve parents in the joint development of the district improvement plan outlined in ESSA Section 1112 and the process of school review and improvement under ESSA Section 1116;
- Provide the coordination, technical assistance, and other support necessary to assist participating Title I schools in planning and implementing effective parent and family engagement to improve student academic achievement and school performance;
- Build the schools’ and parents’ capacity for more effective parent and family engagement described in ESSA Section 1116(e);
- Coordinate and integrate parent and family engagement strategies with other early childhood education programs such as Head Start;
- Conduct an annual evaluation of the content and effectiveness of the parent and family engagement policy with parents. The evaluation should include the policy’s ability to improve; the academic quality of the schools, identifying barriers prohibiting greater participation of parents, the needs of parents and family members to assist with the learning of their children, and strategies to support successful school and family interactions. Parents should be invited to design strategies for more effective parent and family engagement. Particular attention should be given to parents who are economically disadvantaged, are disabled, have limited English proficiency, have limited literacy, or are of any racial or ethnic minority background;
- Involve parents in the activities of schools receiving Title I, Part A funds.
A sample document of the district parent and family engagement policy is available on the Federal Title Programs Monitoring.
The effectiveness of the district’s parent and family engagement policy and parent and family engagement activities must be reviewed every year. The evaluation will determine whether:
- The academic quality of the district has improved.
- Parent participation has increased.
- Barriers exist that hinder greater participation by parents.
The evaluation may be conducted through a written, electronic, or in-person survey. In addition to summarizing and documenting the evaluation findings, the district must document how the findings will be used to improve the parent and family engagement program.
Any district with an allocation of $500,000 or more must set aside 1% of its allocation to carry out the required parent and family engagement activities. At least 90% of the funds set aside for parent and family engagement activities must be distributed to the schools. Districts with an allocation of $500,000 or less are still required to implement the parent and family engagement requirements in the statute but are not required to have a specified minimum expenditure. Parents must be involved in the decisions as to how the parent and family engagement funds are allocated for parent and family engagement activities.
ESSA Section 1116(a)(2)(D) states funds reserved by the district must be used to carry out activities and strategies consistent with the district parent and family engagement policy. Funds must be used for at least one of the following:
- Supporting schools and nonprofit organizations in providing professional development for the district and school personnel regarding parent and family engagement strategies (which may be provided jointly to teachers, principals, other school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel, paraprofessionals, early childhood educators, and parents and family members).
- Supporting programs that reach parents and family members at home, in the community, and at school.
- Disseminating information on best practices focused on parent and family engagement, especially best practices for increasing the engagement of economically disadvantaged parents and family members.
- Providing subgrants to schools which enables them to collaborate with community-based, other organizations, or employers with a record of success in improving and increasing parent and family engagement.
- Engaging in any other activities and strategies the district determines are appropriate and consistent with the district parent and family engagement policy.
Districts providing Title I services to nonpublic schools must reserve funds for parent and family engagement activities for parents of participating nonpublic school children. The funds must be proportionate to the number of eligible nonpublic school children. For example, if the percent of eligible nonpublic school children is 5% of the total low-income students in the district, the percent of parent and family engagement funds to be reserved from the district’s parent and family engagement funds for the nonpublic school is 5% (proportionate share).
All schools receiving Title I, Part A funds are required to include a parent and family engagement component in their plan. Section 1115(c)(1)(G) of ESSA states that schools operating a targeted assistance program must provide strategies to increase parent and family engagement in accordance with ESSA section 1116.
The characteristics and actions of an effective parent and family engagement program should be the same no matter what type of Title I, Part A program is in place. The difference between the two will depend on the specific parents receiving services. Title I, Part A parent and family engagement activities should be geared towards the parents of participating children. All students benefit from funds and services in a schoolwide program; therefore, all parents are the focus of the parent and family engagement efforts. In a targeted assistance program, only certain students receive Title I, Part A services, meaning the parents of those students are the ones who should receive parent and family engagement services.
The district should maintain records of the following items and have the documentation available in the event of an audit or monitoring. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list but rather provide guidance in documenting parent and family engagement in Title I schools.
A district with an allocation of $500,000 or more must reserve and spend at least 1% of its allocation in the district set-asides for parent and family engagement activities and must distribute 90% of that 1% to Title I schools. A proportionate share of the 90% must be used for parent and family engagement for parents of participating nonpublic school students.
ESSA 1112(e)(1)(A) and 34 CFR Part 200.61 (EDGAR) state that at the beginning of each school year, the district must notify the parents of each student attending a Title I school that the parents may request, and the district will provide the parents on request and in a timely manner, information regarding the professional qualifications of the classroom teachers. Information includes:
- Whether the teacher has met state qualification and licensing criteria for the grade levels and subject areas in which the teacher provides instruction;
- Whether the teacher is teaching under emergency or other provisional status through which state qualification or licensing criteria have been waived;
- The baccalaureate degree major of the teacher, any other graduate certification or degree held by the teacher, and the field of discipline of the certification or degree; and
- Whether the child is provided services by paraprofessionals and, if so, their qualifications.
This information should be provided to parents in the fall through a general medium such as a letter or included in a parent handbook. The letter can be included as part of the School Accountability Report Card overview if such a document is already being sent by the district. A sample notification of right to request teacher qualifications is available on the Federal Title Programs Monitoring website.
Participating Title I schools are required by ESSA 1112(e)(1)(B) and 34 CFR Part 200.61 to provide each parent with the following:
- Information on the level of achievement of the parent’s child in each of the state academic assessments required under 34 CFR Part 200.2.
- Timely notice that the parent’s child has been assigned or has been taught for four or more consecutive weeks by a teacher who does not meet applicable state certification or licensure requirements at the grade level and subject area in which the teacher has been assigned.
- Recruit and encourage families to become partners in learning; actively engage parents in planning and learning; and target school-parent programs to the needs of the community and families.
- Encourage parents to be more than volunteers; parents participate in planning, review, and evaluation of the program as well as school activities and organizations.
- Communicate with parents to maximize instructional time for students and foster a team effort.
- Follow a philosophy that school is a place where parents, as well as children, can learn; entire families should use school facilities to meet their needs.
- Communicate information to parents through their native language.
- Provide examples of classroom events (e.g., videos, newsletters, open house, and display of student work) for parents in order to broaden their understanding of the program.
- Provide transportation and childcare services for parents to participate in school activities.
- Develop partnerships with local businesses and community groups to foster successful schools.
All schools receiving Title I, Part A funds must develop a school-family compact jointly with parents of participating children. The compact should outline how parents, school staff, and students will share the responsibility for improved academic achievement, as well as how the school and parents will build and develop a partnership to help children achieve North Dakota’s high standards. The compact must:
- Describe the school’s responsibility to provide a high-quality curriculum and instruction to participating children to meet North Dakota’s academic achievement standards.
- Describe how parents will be responsible for supporting their children’s learning; this may include items such as volunteering in their child’s classroom, participating in decisions relating to their child’s education, and positive use of extracurricular time.
- Addresses the importance of establishing ongoing, good communication between teachers and parents through, at a minimum:
- Parent-teacher conferences in elementary schools, at least annually, to discuss the compact and how it relates to individual student progress and achievement;
- Frequent progress reports to families on student academic progress;
- Reasonable access to staff and opportunities to volunteer, observe and participate in classroom activities.
Similar to parent and family engagement policies, no two schools should have identical school-family compacts. The compact should be readily available for reference, such as in the school handbook or on the school website in a format and language parents can understand. It cannot be a verbal agreement. Copies must be kept on file with documentation of how it was distributed. Signatures on the compact are optional.
5 Steps to Create Effective School-Parent Compacts
To help improve student achievement, schools must engage parents through a school-parent compact, which is part of the school's required written parent and family engagement policy. Use the following five steps to create and implement your school-parent compact.
- Motivate and designate - Assign a teacher, principal, or parent liaison who is passionate about family engagement to oversee the development of the school-parent compact.
- Gather and align - Use a school needs assessment to identify academic weaknesses and look for resources to help parents support the school's academic objectives.
- Design and develop - Decide how to make the compact meaningful to both parents and school staff. Link the compact to the school improvement plan and set grade-level goals.
- Promote, engage, and implement - Treat the compact as a living document to be used through the year for parents and teachers to discuss whether they are meeting their shared responsibilities.
- Celebrate, review, and revise - Celebrate areas in which a school met its goals, review the needs of the student population, and revise goals to meet the new challenges.
School Parent and Family Engagement Policy
Each school receiving Title I, Part A funds must develop a written parent and family engagement policy. The policy is developed jointly, agreed upon, and distributed to parents of participating children. The policy should be reviewed (and revised as needed) by parents of participating children at the school’s annual Title I meeting. Documentation of the review and revisions should be on file in the school as well as at the district Title I coordinator’s office.
A school’s written parent and family engagement policy must establish expectations for parent and family engagement and describe how the school will:
1. Hold a meeting, at a convenient time, for the families of participating children. All parents and family members of participating children should be invited and encouraged to attend. The purpose of the meeting is to inform families of their school’s participation in the Title I, Part A program and explain the requirements associated with the program as well as the right of the families to be involved.
2. Offer a flexible number of meetings (such as before or after school and evenings) and consider providing transportation, childcare, or home visits;
3. Involve parents in an organized, ongoing, and timely way with the planning, review, and improvement of the Title I, Part A program. This includes the planning, review, and improvement of the school parent and family engagement policy and the joint development of the schoolwide [ESSA Section 1114(b)(2)] or targeted assistance program plan. Families must be notified of the written policy in a format that is easy to understand and in a language, the parents can understand. The policy shall be made available to the local community and updated periodically to meet the changing needs of parents and the school.
- There is a special rule regarding a school’s written parent and family engagement policy in ESSA Section 1116(b)(2). If the school has a parent and family engagement policy that applies to all parents and family members, the school may amend their existing policy, as necessary, to meet the requirements of ESSA 1116(b)
4. Provide parents of participating children:
- Timely information about Title I, Part A programs;
- School performance reports; including a description and explanation of the school’s curriculum, state standards, forms of academic assessment used to measure student progress, and the proficiency levels students are expected to meet;
- Their student’s assessment results;
- Additional opportunities for parents to offer suggestions and participate in decisions relating to the education of their children.
If the schoolwide or targeted assistance program plan is not satisfactory to the parents of participating children, parents may submit comments on the plan when the school makes the plan available to the district.
No two schools should have identical parent and family engagement policies as no two schools are identical. Although there may be similarities, the document should reflect the unique population of the individual school and the contributions made by the families of that school.