The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB Act) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), and is based on four principles that provide a framework through which families, educators, and communities can work together to improve teaching and learning. These principles are accountability for results, local control and flexibility, expanded parental choice, and effective and successful programs that reflect scientifically based research. The parental involvement provisions in Title I, Part A of the ESEA reflect these principles. Specifically, these provisions stress shared accountability between schools and parents for high student achievement, including expanded public school choice and supplemental educational services for eligible children in low-performing schools, local development of parental involvement plans with sufficient flexibility to address local needs, and building parents’ capacity for using effective practices to improve their own children’s academic achievement.
New reporting provisions added by the NCLB Act offer parents important insight into their children’s education, the professional qualifications of their teachers, and the quality of the schools they attend. The new legislation ensures that parents have the information they need to make well-informed choices for their children, more effectively share responsibility with their children’s schools, and help those schools develop effective and successful academic programs. Parents now will know their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses and how well schools are performing, and they will have other options and resources for helping their children if their schools are identified in need of improvement.
The new Title I, Part A is designed not only to help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers, but also to change the culture of America’s schools so that success is defined in terms of student achievement and schools invest in every child. As indicated by the parental involvement provisions in Title I, Part A, the involvement of parents in their children’s education and schools is critical to that process. Secretary Paige put it succinctly when he stated, “[s]chools can’t improve without the help of parents.”
Three decades of research provide convincing evidence that parents are an important influence in helping their children achieve high academic standards. When schools collaborate with parents to help their children learn and when parents participate in school activities and decision-making about their children’s education, children achieve at higher levels. In short, when parents are involved in education, children do better in school and schools improve.
This guidance is divided into five major sections. The first deals with general issues related to parental involvement, the second addresses the parental involvement responsibilities of State educational agencies (SEAs), the third describes responsibilities of local educational agencies (LEAs), the fourth describes the responsibilities of schools, and the fifth describes the responsibilities of LEAs and schools to build parents’ capacity for becoming involved in improving their child’s academic achievement. Included in the appendices are relevant definitions (Appendix A), key Title I, Part A parental notice requirements (Appendix B), a list of research-based resources for improving teaching and learning (Appendix C), a sample template that might be used for the development of a district-wide parental involvement policy (Appendix D), and a sample template for a school-parent compact (Appendix E).
The purpose of this guidance is to assist SEAs, LEAs, and schools in administering the parental involvement provisions of Title I, Part A of the ESEA. This guidance is not intended to be all-inclusive; rather, it answers questions about and clarifies aspects of the law that have been brought to the attention of the U.S. Department of Education (ED). This guidance may be supplemented in the future as other issues arise. The questions are primarily based on issues raised by State and local school officials and staff, education leaders, technical assistance providers, parents, parent advocacy organizations, parental involvement coordinators/liaisons, and others who are actively engaged in working with parents to improve student achievement and learning.
|A. GENERAL INFORMATION|
A-1. What is parental involvement under No Child Left Behind?
Parental involvement always has been a centerpiece of Title I. However, for the first time in the history of the ESEA, it has a specific statutory definition. The statute defines parental involvement as the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring—
• that parents play an integral role in assisting their child’s learning;
• that parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school;
• that parents are full partners in their child’s education and are included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child; and
• that other activities are carried out, such as those described in section 1118 of the ESEA (Parental Involvement). [Section 9101(32), ESEA.]
A-2. What is the significance of the statutory definition? The definition of parental involvement sets the parameters, in conjunction with other sections of the law by which SEAs, LEAs and schools will implement programs, activities, and procedures to involve parents in Title I, Part A programs.
A-3. Who is a parent for the purposes of Title I, Part A? The term “parent” includes in addition to a natural parent, a legal guardian or other person standing in loco parentis (such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom the child lives, or a person who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare). [Section 9101(31), ESEA.]
A-4. Why is parental involvement important? A synthesis of the research concluded that “the evidence is consistent, positive, and convincing: families have a major influence on their children’s achievement in school and through life. When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.”
A-5. What does the research show about how family involvement in children’s education affects student achievement? Studies have found that students with involved parents, no matter what their income or background, are more likely to—
• Earn high grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs;
• Pass their classes, earn credits, and be promoted;
• Attend school regularly; and
• Graduate and go on to postsecondary education.
A-6. What are the key Title I, Part A parental notice requirements? The key parental notice requirements for SEAs, LEAs, and schools are set forth in Appendix B to this guidance.
A-7. What are the parental involvement provisions in section 1118 of the ESEA? Title I, Part A provides for substantive parental involvement at every level of the program, such as in the development and implementation of the State and local plan, and in carrying out the LEA and school improvement provisions. Section 1118 contains the primary Title I, Part A requirements for SEAs, LEAs, and schools related to involving parents in their children’s education. It is this section that identifies critical points in the process of improving teaching and learning where parents and the community can intervene and assist in school improvement. Although section 1118 is extensive in scope and has many requirements for LEAs and schools, the intent is not to be burdensome. These provisions reflect good practice in engaging families in helping to educate their children, because students do better when parents are actively involved in the education process, both at home and at school.
A-8. How must SEAs, LEAs, and schools communicate with parents in general? Because regular communication is the foundation of effective parental involvement, SEAs, LEAs, and schools must provide information to parents of students participating in Title I, Part A programs in an understandable and uniform format, including alternative formats upon request, and, “to the extent practicable,” in a language that parents can understand. (See, for example, a State’s notification to parents of LEA improvement status (section 1116(c)(6)), a school’s notification to parents of the written parental involvement policy (section 1118(b)(1)), and LEA and school notifications to parents of information related to parent programs, meetings, and other activities (section 1118(e)(5).) [Title I, Part A Final Regulations, 34 CFR Section 200.36 (“Title I Regulations”)