The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 introduced many updates regarding family engagement. Anne T. Henderson of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform released an excellent brief detailing the updates. LivingTree uniquely addresses the need to implement campus and district wide collaboration – allowing for two way conversation in native language. Below are relevant excerpts from Anne T. Henderson’s brief and ESSA.
The purpose of Title I: “To provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.”
Title I: Parent and family engagement
District policy: (1) In general — A school district may receive funds under this part only if:
- It conducts outreach to all parents and family members;
- Implements programs, activities, and procedures to involve parents and family members in Title I programs.
- Plans and implements such programs, activities, and procedures with meaningful consultation with parents of participating children.
Reservation of funds for parent and family engagement – Minimum 1 percent:
- Each district shall reserve at least 1 percent of its Title I allocation to assist schools to carry out the parent and family engagement activities (except for districts where 1 percent of the district grant is $5,000 or less). This provision shall not limit districts from reserving more than 1 percent.
- Parent and family input: Parents and family members of children receiving Title I services shall be involved in the decisions regarding how these funds reserved are allotted for parent involvement activities.
- Distribution of funds: Not less than 90 percent of the funds reserved shall be distributed to schools served under this part, with priority given to high-need schools.
- Use of funds: Funds reserved by the district shall be used to carry out activities and strategies consistent with the district’s parent and family engagement policy, including at least 1 of the following:
a. Professional development: Supporting schools and nonprofit organizations in providing professional development for local educational agency and school personnel regarding parent and family engagement strategies, which may be provided jointly to teachers, principals, and other school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel, paraprofessionals, early childhood educators, and parents and family members.
b. Home-based programs: Supporting programs that reach parents and family members at home, in the community, and at school.
c. Disseminating information: Informing on best practices focused on parent and family engagement, especially best practices for increasing the engagement of economically disadvantaged parents and family members.
d. Collaborating with community-based organizations: Providing subgrants to schools so they can collaborate, with community-based or other organizations or employers with a record of success in improving and increasing parent and family engagement.
e. Other activities: Engaging in any other activities and strategies that the local educational agency determines are appropriate and consistent with such agency’s parent and family engagement policy;
Shared responsibility for high student academic achievement: School-Parent Compact
As a component of the school-level parent and family engagement policy developed under this section, each school served under Title I shall jointly develop with parents for all Title I children a school-parent compact that outlines how parents, the entire school staff, and students will share the responsibility for improved student academic achievement and the means by which the school and parents will build and develop a partnership to help children achieve the State’s high standards. The compact shall:
Describe parent-teacher communications: Address the importance of ongoing communication between teachers and parents through, at a minimum:
- Parent-teacher conferences in elementary schools, at least annually, during which the compact shall be discussed as it relates to the individual child’s achievement;
- Frequent reports to parents on their children’s progress;
- Reasonable parent access to staff, opportunities to volunteer and participate in their child’s class, and observation of classroom activities; and
- Regular two-way, meaningful communication between family members and school staff, and, to the extent practicable, in a language that family members can understand.
LivingTree addresses every aspect of parent-teacher communication, enables campus and district wide dissemination of information, encourages collaboration with community organizations, and grants every community equitable access.