Parent and Family Engagement
Both state and local education plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—the new law that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind (ESEA/NCLB) which governs the K-12 public school system at the federal level, are required to be developed in consultation with many education stakeholders with an explicit mention of parents in the process. Of significant importance to all parents and PTA is Section 1116—Parent and Family Engagement, formerly Section 1118 of ESEA/NCLB. This section requires LEAs to include a written parent and family engagement policy in their education plan that welcomes all families and seeks to strengthen the partnership between families, school and community to improve student outcomes. The parent and family engagement policy mandates each school to convene an annual meeting with parents and families to explain the curriculum, types of academic assessments used to measure student progress, the challenging state academic standards and the proficiency levels students are expected to meet.
Section 1116 also requires the reservation of at least 1% of an LEA’s Title I-A funds—and includes language stating that nothing prohibits an LEA from spending more than 1%—for parent and family engagement activities to be used to support at least one of the following activities:
- Professional development for LEA and school personnel regarding parent and family engagement strategies
- Programs that reach parents and family members at home, in the community, and at school, such as home visiting
- Disseminating information on best practices for family engagement
- Collaborating and providing sub grants to schools to enable collaboration amongst community-based organizations with a record of success in improving parent and family engagement in schools
- Other activities that LEAs determine to be consistent with their parent and family engagement policy
What is Family Engagement
"The mutual responsibility of families, schools, and communities to build relationships to support student learning and achievement and to support family well-being and the continuous learning and development of children, families, and educators. Family engagement is fully integrated in the child's educational experience and supports the whole child and is both culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate" (Texas Education Agency, 2018).