Now that the Feds are moving away from the No Child Left Behind Act towards the new ESSA guidelines, much has been speculated on its effectiveness over its preceding directives. Whether or not you favor one over the other, there is a promising piece of ESSA that seeks to strengthen education for individual students over all: including the parents as a meaningful part of the education experience.
Including parents in IEPs and 504 plans has always come with the territory. In fact, more often than not, you won’t get to know most parents in your school district half as much as when your district is embroiled in a heated debate over what is best for a child and their IEP. Other than that, as long as there is no reason to bring them in, you probably won’t see them much, aside from the annual bakesale or occasional early pickup. That is all about to change...for the better.
ESSA Requires School Districts Find Paths To Greater Parental Involvement In Learning
The Every Student Succeeds Act contains a piece of legislation that directs states, and thus school districts, to come up with a strategic plan on how to include parents in the education experience for their students. The idea is to involve as many parents in their individual child’s educational development as possible by making it meaningful and accessible for them to participate. If that sounds pretty vague, rest assured, it is. The Federal government’s move away from overarching micromanagement in favor of state run education systems leaves a lot to the imagination in terms of what meaningful and accessible involvement looks like. States are directed to come up with their own strategies to make this work, and also they are still required to report on its effectiveness; a tall order to be sure.
States will be required to work with parents and guardians, as well as community programs to strengthen education programs. Programs like W. K. Kellogg Foundation and other foundations like it enhance what schools are already providing through district funding. The Kellogg Foundation, notably founded by the creator of the famed breakfast cereal behemoth, has contributed around $25 million dollars in funding to school programs in the United States alone. With resources like this around for the asking, it is no wonder the Federal government is encouraging school districts to make use of money specifically earmarked for the benefit of their students.
"We want to help the school system move away from looking at family engagement as a one-time program or collection of random events, like fundraisers such as a bake sale, and focus more on looking at sustainable ways in how parents and families are constantly incorporated in every aspect of the learning settings within the school.," Jennifer O’Dell Program Manager, W. K. Kellogg Foundation
School Districts Will Face Challenges On How To Make Parental Involvement In Learning A Measurable Thing
Involving parents in the learning process can only be a good thing. Trouble is, how do you make that happen? These days, both parents are working full-time. When will there be time to be involved as ESSA would like them to? How does a school district provide meaningful and accessible ways for parents to be included when the vast majority of the educational experience is during normal business hours?
These meaty questions are being asked in school districts around the country. The likely delivery method is email, which is neither HIPAA or FERPA compliant. Newsletters could be sent home, but that takes time on an already time-taxed day for teachers to craft, review, and then send out. Then, how do you measure whether or not either a newsletter or email has actually been read?
The second hurdle to successful delivery would be language barriers. How do you know if a parent is taking in the information given to them in English if they have a below average proficiency? While a non-english speaking parent might have opened every email their child’s teacher has sent them, if they can’t understand it then how can you measure that the information has been delivered and the parent has been adequately involved? Surely not.
eCare Vault Could Be The Tool Your District Uses To Garner Greater Parental Involvement In Learning And Be Able To Measure Its Effectiveness
Since ESSA is not just about building plans for involvement but measuring its impact, how does your school district plan to do this? What tools are currently in place to ensure that the strategies built are effective?
eCare Vault is the solution poised to help with school district measurement and proof of parental involvement. Where emails and surveys fall short of measuring how meaningful the involvement is, the communication collected in eCare Vault proves the effectiveness like nothing else can. As far as accessible, education collaboration with eCare Vault is as simple as downloading an app to your handheld device to be utilized whenever and wherever the parent chooses to. Better yet, it is HIPAA and FERPA compliant for greater security.
How will you rest assured your parental involvement strategies are not only in place but having a positive impact on your students’ learning experience?