Action Steps - Standard 4
Get a copy of your school’s parent involvement policy and make sure it covers the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Then find out what other parents think of the policy and whether it covers their concerns. Update the policy to meet the needs of your school community.
Include a mini-poll (one question) in each PTA/school newsletter and post it on the Web. Over the course of the year, cover a wide range of issues affecting students and the school. Use the parent feedback to make decisions relating to student programs or the school community in general.
What Parents and Parent Leaders Can Do
- Plan workshops on how to ask the right questions about children’s progress and placement.
- In collaboration with school staff, provide information sessions about programs for gifted and talent students. Reach out to under-represented populations to ensure access and equity for all students.
- Involve parents in ongoing training on topics such as being an effective advocate, identifying and supporting learning styles, resolving difficulties, and fostering student achievement.
- Match new families at the school with a buddy family to show them the ropes.
What School Leaders and Staff Can Do
- Frequently share the school’s policy and procedures for resolving parent concerns. Cover how to define the problem, whom to approach first, how to develop solutions, and so forth. Encourage parents to address problems early.
- Develop a Parent Bill of Rights.
- Provide a school handbook, workshops, and/or Web-based materials to explain all school policies and procedures to families.
- Publicize any successful changes in the school that resulted from parent initiation and involvement.
- Facilitate parent participation in school committees and other community groups, such as the city council.
Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships, by Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies (New York: The New Press, 2007), includes a chapter on supporting advocacy (chapter 7), with a checklist to help evaluate how well your school supports parents as advocates.
The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) offers professional development and training for educators and parents and has a package of bilingual materials to help Latino families plan for college.
The Kentucky Department of Education’s Individual Graduation Plan resources help students set learning goals based on academic and career interests.
Making the Most of Middle School: A Field Guide for Parents and Others, by Anthony W. Jackson and P. Gayle Andrews with Holly Holland and Priscilla Pardini (New York: Teachers College Press, 2004), gives parents practical advice about young adolescents.
Speaking Up! A Parent Guide to Advocating for Students in Public Schools (Burnaby, British Columbia: BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, 2008) offers practical advice on how to resolve problems.
The Right Question Project provides training that emphasizes working together to name the information we want and need, formulate questions, reflect on the knowledge gained, and develop plans for advocacy and accountability. For parents, the project emphasizes three roles: supporting children’s education, monitoring their progress, and being an advocate of their needs.
Working Together: A Guide to Positive Problem Solving for Schools, Families, and Communities (Winnipeg, Manitoba: Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth, 2004) guides parents, educators, and community members in the cooperative problem-solving process of informal dispute resolution.