District Role in Parent and Family Engagement
Districts have a responsibility to promote and strengthen parental engagement within their Title I, Part A programs. There are clear requirements that obligate districts 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 and Family Engagement
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: District Role
Communication. Use Effective Communications with Families
Title I, Part A integrates parental involvement at every level of service delivery. Provisions in this important support for struggling kids reflect proven practices for family engagement.
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.
Notify Parents. Primary Notification Requirements for Districts
The communication and notification components that impact family involvement should 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 districts 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 occur among school and district staff and the families and children they serve.
Policy. Develop a Written, District-level Parent and Family Engagement Policy
Each district that receives Title I, Part A funds must develop a written parent and family engagement policy that establishes the
program components for parental involvement. Districts must develop this policy with the parents whose children receive Title I, Part A services.
Parents must agree with the provisions of the policy. Districts must make sure parents are aware of the policy and have access to a written version. If your district 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.
Coordinate, Help & Support. Provide Coordination, Technical Assistance & Support
Districts have a responsibility to provide best practices related to parent involvement to participating Title I, Part A Schools:
- Deliver technical assistance
- Coordinate community partnerships with other programs
- Involve staff and parents in the solutions that improve and strengthen family involvement
Monitor each Title I, Part A School to ensure these responsibilities are met:
- Develop a parent and family engagement 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.
Best Practices to Support Participating Schools Deliver Effective Parent and Family Engagement
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.
Make sure participating schools display the parent involvement policy at each school that parents can view. Check each parent also receives a copy of the policy.
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 and family engagement within schools and among parents themselves. Effective scheduling, best practices and community engagement — are just three of the many ways districts can support parent involvement at school, at home and across the community.
Required - Strategies that Build Capacity for Family and Parent 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 Family and Parent 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 involvement.
Establish a district-level parent advisory council to provide advice on related to parent involvement in Title I, Part A programs.
Develop appropriate roles for businesses, and community- and faith-based organizations that support community participation in parent and family engagement activities.
Evaluate. Conduct an Annual Evaluation of the Content and Effectiveness of 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 involvement.
- 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 & Effectiveness of Your Parent and Family Engagement Policy
- Survey parents annually, at a minimum. Include questions that will identify barriers to parent and family engagement.
- 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. 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.
Tool to Evaluate Your Parent and Family Engagement Program
Districts have a responsibility to 1) evaluate their parent and family engagement policy, and 2) help participating schools create effective parent and family engagement programs. The following inventory tool can help gauge the effectiveness and the scope of their parent and family engagement efforts. If the inventory reveals that efforts are concentrated at one level of the system or in one focus for engagement, they will know where to direct additional resources and efforts in their future work. Any planning committee or any group exploring parent and family engagement may complete this form. However, parents should be represented in whatever process is used.
District Level Parent and Family Engagement–Support Inventory Tool
Survey templates for participating schools: Parenting | Communication | Volunteering | Learning at Home | Decision Making | Community Collaboration. Go to School Role and click on section 7 Evaluate
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 involvement 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:
- No requirement to reserve a specific amount
- Must implement parent and family engagement activities that comply with Section 1118 of ESEA
Strategies to Help Districts and Schools Gather Feedback from Parents
Survey parents annually. Include questions that ask parents directly how they would like the district to fund parent and family engagement.
Sample Survey from the Georgia Department of Education
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