Parental Involvement Webcast Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

August 26th, 2004

Lorraine Wise
Office of Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs

Ronald Houston
State Director of School Improvement and Title I, Delaware

Dr. Sonia Diaz­Salcedo
Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools

Bob Witherspoon
Senior Research Associate, RMC Corporation

Lorraine Wise, Office of Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs:

Hello I am Lorraine Wise with the Office of Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs. Today we are going to talk about parental involvement and how critical it is to the improvement of the education of our children. Joining me today we have Ronald Houston, State Director of School Improvement and Title I, for Delaware. Dr. Sonia Diaz Salcedo, Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools and Bob Witherspoon, Senior Research Associate, RMC Research Corporation. Let’s start talking about the activities that are taking place at the state level, the district level and from your perspective, throughout the nation, relative to the Parents’ Right to Know, annual report cards, public school choice and supplemental educational services, and how you are communicating this information to parents so that they can be a part of “No Child Left Behind.” We want to start with Ron. Ronald HOUSTON, State Director of School Improvement and Title I, Delaware: Good afternoon, and I’m really glad to be here with all of you and to talk about parent involvement. As a state representative I want to point out that parent involvement is very important. As you know in this law, “No Child Left Behind,” parent empowerment is extremely important. Parents need to know about the accountability provisions in the law, how important it is for children to achieve at a certain level, schools to achieve at a certain level. Parents need to be right in the front in the involvement of preparing applications and submissions for funding to the Department of Education, to receive these funds to help children to achieve, as well as all of the other provisions of the law regarding Parent’s Right to Know, parent compacts and other areas where parent involvement is important, so I think it’s important to point these things out as we have this discussion. Sonia Diaz-SALCEDO, Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools: And Lorraine, thank you also for the invitation to be here. Parent Involvement is a critical element in the work that I do and having served as a teacher, as a school administrator and currently as a superintendent, I can see the evolution that the whole notion of parent involvement has taken for the last 30 years. With the “No Child Left Behind” legislation, parent engagement has come to a different level of sophistication and of intensity and it is a very critical time certainly in the urban sector, for us to look at the power that parents bring and the opportunity to give parents a voice with this legislation. The whole notion now of parent involvement is at a very, very different level, particularly because parents have the right to know what is happening in schools and this piece has been formalized certainly through the legislation. In terms of all the other critical elements of this legislation as well, giving parents reports on how students are doing, how schools are doing, how districts are doing. I think we’ve

certainly brought that level of awareness to a different height and a different level. I’m very excited about the work that I’m doing, recognizing that parents as partners are going to make the work that I do more effective and help me be more successful in transforming schools into the kinds of places that really serve children in communities. Bob WITHERSPOON, Senior Research Associate, RMC Research Corporation: Good afternoon, thank you for the opportunity to be here Lorraine. “No Child Left Behind” certainly, as Sonya just indicated, has raised the level of parent involvement to a whole new level. Now with the requirements in “No Child Left Behind,” parents have a new role, kind of parents as consumer, you have to select schools under the Choice Provision, you have to be aware of the Supplemental Services Providers, the SES provisions through extra tutoring. So it kind of enhances those parent roles that we’ve always recognized the parents as learners, parents as teachers, parents as supporters, where now “No Child Left Behind” has really elevated that to parents as consumers. Parents now have to understand data when you look at how schools are doing, how their own students are doing. When there are different providers, how do you select among a provider? How do you select a different school? It’s not just like going out to buy something off a shelf, but you really have to become more deeply involved in how schools work, how they operate, what’s best for your child. What if there are no choices where you are? How do you still make sure the school where your child is has an improvement plan and how parents are involved in that? So “No Child Left Behind” has clearly raised it to a whole new level that is very encouraging to recognize the role of parents as partners. Lorraine WISE: All right, these things are complicated and interrelated issues, so how are you getting the information out to parents? Do they really understand the Parent’s Right to Know Provision? Do they really understand school choice? Are they really able to partake of supplemental educational services? What mechanisms are you using to reach parents? Anyone? Sonia Diaz-SALCEDO: Before I answer that, I want to talk about the whole notion of accountability, and what this has done to public urban education in terms of involving parents and informing parents of their rights, and all the different pieces that go in the managing and the running, and certainly the instructional part of a school. Parents now have a right to know all of the pieces that are going on in a school and with the legislation this has evened out. Before we counted on the, certainly the intelligence, and the information, and the efforts of a school leader, and a teacher who really made

school accessible to a parent. Now, with the Parent’s Right to Know, we have to talk to parents. We have to inform them in formal ways of what is happening in schools: clearly in terms of the annual report cards, how are students doing, how are they doing compared to each other, how is the school doing compared to other schools, and where does the district fare in terms of its comparison to other districts in the state and across the country. As well, we have to talk to parents about what kinds of teachers are teaching their children. What are the qualifications, and this is something that is no longer kept hidden or in the drawer, or in a resume or in a portfolio, but it is clearly presented to the parent, the parent has the right to access that information and to know the background, the preparation of a teacher teaching his or her child. So I’m really excited about this in terms of just the openness that we can now have in informing parents and we do that in a variety of ways. We do it formally as well as informally. There is correspondence that is sent to the parent, but we also have mechanisms within the district at the school level with the PAC meetings and with parent meetings. As a superintendent, I conduct once a month, a president council meeting and generally we have an agenda that incorporates ideas from parents but also brings to the parents information about the legislation, about instruction, about all the other elements of schooling and of education. I’m very excited about it. We have a parent center that has really thought of parents as leaders and so we have an institute that trains parents, not simply to be good parents, in terms of that whole notion of parenting, but that really presents parents the opportunity to become advocates for their children, to start looking at civic responsibilities, to start looking at political involvement and engagement and to really start to navigate that whole scenario in terms how to access better services for their children. So it all comes back to the child in terms of creating a stronger and a better more effective environment for the children in the school as well as strengthening the nexus and the links to the home. Lorraine WISE: Now you mentioned PAC meetings. For those viewers who may not know what PAC meetings are, would you like to explain that? Sonia Diaz-SALCEDO: Well in Title I schools, we have the Parent Advisory Councils (PAC), these are the groups of parents who come together at least once a month to talk about critical issues, certainly around the funding, certainly around the other pieces, instructional, human resources, all of the pieces that are so important in terms of managing and running a school, and making sure that children are getting the proper education and getting the services that

they need. It is also a mechanism to involve parents, to inform parents, to engage parents at a very different level. Helping them understand the whole notion of the federal responsibility as well as their responsibility. Bob WITHERSPOON: Lorraine, you’d mentioned earlier the difficulty in some of the subjects and information that parents have to understand. I think there’s still a big challenge because, even though we are still in the third year of “No Child Left Behind,” many parents still, we’re finding, are unaware of this information. One of the things that we tend to target on are the parents who show up. But many of the parents that really need to target are parents who have had bad experiences in schools, parents who don’t come to the PTA meetings, or the PAC meetings, or the Title I meetings. So I think schools have a much bigger challenge now. How do we reach parents who don’t typically come to the meetings and especially with this kind of information that you’re talking about? So getting into non-traditional ways, not just the typical newsletters that go home in a child’s book bag, but actually mailing news letters to agencies, faith-based organizations, institutions where parents tend to frequent, making sure that the language is in, of course, the legislation requires it to be in, the language that parents can understand. Some of the traditional ways we still use, like newsletters. The State of New York has done kind of a series of just the facts where they’ve kind of put the information in plain language, in about seven or eight languages, for parents. The use of parent liaisons to conduct workshops not just in the schools now, but out in the community. I think we really have to look at non-traditional ways that we haven’t used before. This legislation, I think builds on the Improving America’s Schools Act, but one of the new features of this legislation that I really like is that the definition of parent involvement now. When you go into a school district, everybody’s got it’s own kind of thought and idea of what parental involvement means. This legislation, “No Child Left Behind” provides us a framework so that we at least start from that same position of, here’s what the legislation’s taking about. The two-way communication, assisting parents to be involved at the school level, helping parents be involved to help their children do better in school, which is a really big key now. So that means even parents who might not show up, how do we connect with parents who don’t come still to understand this and, of course, then the decision making which all of this builds on previous legislation. Sonia Diaz-SALCEDO: And part of that incorporates the genuine belief that parents are partners and that we can’t

do this job without them, and that they really are critical elements in this whole piece about moving schools forward and reaching all children. And school leaders have to have a very different notion of how they conduct their business in schools these days, and they really have to open schools to parents and make schools accessible to parents and make parents feel welcome. But there are other areas, as Bob mentioned, in terms of thinking about this in nontraditional ways and thinking out of the box. How can we attract parents to school? How can we attract parents who are new to the district, who may not speak the language, who really don’t have that sense of awareness in terms of reaching the pieces that are really going to make schooling more effective for their children. One of the things that we’ve done in Bridgeport is create school leadership teams, and we’ve transformed the whole notion of governance in terms of really valuing what parents bring to the idea of making choices about the important things that happen in schools. That has to do with selecting a principal, selecting curriculum, selecting materials, and looking at how the school is run on a day-to-day basis. So giving parents a voice and really giving them weight in terms of the pieces that they bring and valuing their contributions has to be done in very powerful ways. We have home school coordinators and if parents can’t come to the school, it isn’t just about sending someone to the home, to talk to them, to inform them but it is about creating that avenue and that opportunity for parents to feel more comfortable, to accommodate their time schedules, to provide daycare for the younger children they make have, to create incentives for them to become part of the school environment. We have to do very different things because we have missed the boat in many cases in terms of valuing parents and engaging them and bringing them into the school environment. Ronald HOUSTON: I can’t express too much the importance or partnering, parents as partners. I think this law provides a real opportunity for parents to be involved in the decision-making that goes on, understanding how this law is designed to support their involvement. In order for parents to be involved they must have training. They must understand how to work with schools. How do you as a parent make certain things happen in the school? What is your involvement? What is your role? As a State Department representative, understanding that law is very important, our training of parents, getting them to know what this law is about, know how they can impact what happens in schools. Examples include, parents must be on decision making committees and in our states and throughout the country, parents have to be on the planning committees for the applications that the states submit for funding for schools. Parents have to be on committees that determine what the adequate yearly progress for children’s performance in schools and districts across the country.

So parents must be perceived as true partners and true partnership really means their preparation to participate effectively in governance, their opportunity to participate in making decisions about what actually going to happen in schools. So in many state departments in providing support to schools, we do it through workshops, seminars. We have parents on all committees that are making decisions about what is going to happen in schools with respect to their children. Another piece that I think that is very important is the proactive role of parents in being able to understand and set expectations for their children. I often use the example that a parent should be able to go into a school and ask the school what they expect of their children for that particular year. What do they expect for all of the children for a particular year. This provides a real good opportunity for the schools to say to parents, we can raise the achievement of your child at this level but it requires your participation and it requires our participation in ways that we know will be effective. So I think it’s important to perceive parents, I think it’s a paradigm shift, it’s parent empowerment that parents are true components of the school community and that without that parental involvement we’re really not going to have the kinds of achievement that we actually need. When I’m talking with teachers and other people in schools throughout the state that I represent, I always ask teachers, what are the most critical barriers to the achievement of these children, and in many instances it’s the parent involvement role that comes to the front. So we also want to increase opportunities for schools to work with parents in a different way to recognize and meet that particular need that they are suggesting in improving their involvement, and thereby improving children’s achievement. There are a lot of ways, but parent participation in governance, parent participation in training and professional development is very critical. Sonia Diaz-SALCEDO: I agree as well in terms of the training and the professional development. We’ve really got to share with the parents what it is that’s important for them to know, and I think that this is where the compacts come in, the school-home compacts, in terms of putting the onus on teachers, on parents, as well as on the students, but laying it all out very clearly in terms of what the expectations are and what the guidance is in terms of how you pursue certain things, but opening up parent’s eyes in terms of what they can contribute, and what they can bring, and what they take away and how they can really make this piece work for children. Understanding what homework is all about. Understanding how to help children at home with their homework. Giving parents instruction in terms of content, in terms of even methodology, how to teach your child at home. How to read to your child, how to have your child read to you, and what are the pieces you look for as you’re teaching your child

to become better literate individuals and more literate in so many different ways. But also helping parents to understand that there is power in terms of their involvement in schools and when they come to classrooms what are the pieces that they should be looking for in terms of defining an excellent classroom, how to go through your child’s portfolio, how to talk to the teacher, how to deal with circumstances where there is a level of ambiguity, whether or not understanding, particularly around the whole issue of data, where the state sends the report card to the home, but they also send it to the school and helping parents breakdown those pieces so that they’re understandable, they’re comprehensible. And clearly the responsibility is on schools to present that data and to show it in a way that parents can use it when they go home. So that it is broken down by strands and those simple pieces that they can say, oh my child needs more help in this area, I can contribute by working on numbers at home in this particular area. There are so many different pieces we can do. Obviously with the legislation we just can’t take that for granted. It is part of the formal professional development that now we incorporate as we work with parents. Lorraine WISE: I agree with you that the school-parent compact is an excellent strategy for involving parents in the new provisions and the new Section 1118. Bob WITHERSPOON: Lorraine, actually this piggybacks on one of the barriers you talked about previously. One of the barriers that we really got to, one of the challenging barriers we’ve really got to work on is, we do a lot of work with parents, we’ve got to do equally that kind of work with teachers and principals. Most teachers, most principals are not aware of this phenomenal research that we have on the importance of any role of parents. When I went to school to be a teacher, which was many, many years ago, we weren’t provided anything on how to work with parents, how to communicate with parents, the importance of the research. Even today, teachers still tell me that they don’t get any training in working with parents. Principals don’t get any. There’s very little professional development at the school and district level that incorporates the importance of the role of parents. Say we’re getting a new reading program, well, how can we talk about a new reading program without talking about the role of families and communities in helping children to read. So we do a lot of training and outreach to parents. We’ve got to equally put some of that into the schools as well. “No Child Left Behind” provides that, certainly in Title I, 1118, it talks about training of teachers and how to work with parents. Title II Professional Development provides us with that opportunity.

But still, very little is really going on in that area in terms of that challenge. Then we would have people understanding the compacts, that is it a shared responsibility. How do we communicate with parents and how do parents communicate with us the things they can do to help the child achieve. So it has to be just like the legislation talks about, twoway… Lorraine WISE: Meaning… Bob WITHERSPOON: Meaning full communication, we really got to get to that two-way, meaningful communication. Lorraine WISE: Oh, go ahead… Ronald HOUSTON: Bob was correct. I think parents and teachers understanding how to work better with parents, and how important it is is real critical. It’s part of the whole training piece that needs to take place. But, I want to add that while we have some schools that don’t have compacts, we have schools who use that concept very effectively. And, it’s part of that process where… Lorraine WISE: Wait, you said they don’t have school-parent conferences? Ronald HOUSTON: Some schools don’t have parent compacts, but then there are schools who use it very effectively. Lorraine WISE: Oh, yes, yes. Alright, yes, yes. Ronald HOUSTON: And, those schools recognize that the whole school is what’s important, it’s a comprehensive process, it’s less and less a separate program here to the side, as Title I has been in some instances. The schoolwide concept is very important, where we look at

what an effective program is for all children first. And understanding the role of parents and the agreement that takes place between the school and parents about how children are going to be served, and how children are going to be supported, is very important. And, the minute schools recognize that, when you have a parent compact it has to be for all children in that particular school, so that there’s an expectation that the school and the parents are working together to serve all of our children. But, most importantly, those who have not felt that involvement over the years, so it does create an environment to where parents understand what the school expects of children, the parents have an opportunity to have input about what’s going to happen to their children in the schools. So, where that is being implemented, it’s been effective, in raising children’s achievement, it’s been effective in getting parents believing that their voice is being heard, getting parents to understand better ways that they can assist and work with their children. There’s this one piece of research out there that this leads us to, and that is that the impact of parent involvement is most critical when, how parents relate to their children, and I think that has to be part of the training that we’re talking about: parents recognizing their role as parents and understanding how to do that better, in concert with schools. And critically, what Bob is talking about, schools understanding how they can support that process, how they can help parents better understand what they do that will help the parents work better with their children. So, a compact is a good initiator to a lot of effective implementation of programs in schools. Lorraine WISE: You sound like parents who ask this question: I can’t get help for my child unless my child is in a low performance school and supplemental educational services are offered. So, our school is not low-performing, where is this extra help coming from that you’re talking about? Ronald HOUSTON: In some states… Lorraine WISE: You’re a Title I school, I’m sorry… Ronald HOUSTON:

In a Title I school, they are receiving support through programs like 21st Century Schools, they receive a certain amount of support for after school, extra school, kinds of activities and experiences. Schools also need to make provisions based on the needs of their children. I think what parents need to understand is that most of our schools are going to be needs based. Their decisions about what they’re gong to do is based on data, that tells them about what their children’s needs are, and they need to implement activities that address specifically those needs that exist. The whole notion of taking, and targeting specific children is still critical and important, but what’s more important is that the needs of all of the children in the school are addressed in a school program, and that these resources support that in a way that the school is effective in meeting all of the needs that the children have. So, supplemental services are provided through state funds, through local funds, through federal funds, and it is driven by the need that some children need a little bit more extra compensatory support than other children, and that should be present in all of our programs. Now, as far as the State Department is concerned, and the District as well, when each district submits its application, the children’s performance, they tell us what the children’s needs are, and then they indicate what they’re going to do to address those needs. Parent involvement has to be part of that. You know in the law there is a requirement of one percent, at least one percent in Title I funding going to parent involvement, but that should not be the criteria. The criteria should really be the needs of that particular school in that particular district. If parental needs are present, then there must be activities to address that, as well. So, the supplemental support, and all of what we do for these children really should be data based and driven by needs of children. Sonia Diaz-Salcedo: And, I think, as well, with the adequate yearly progress reports, with the annual report cards that we get, schools can no longer hide behind composites or averages. When you have the data illustrated by sub groups, and according to categories, now you can see in more transparent ways, how students are doing. And schools have to respond to the needs of particular populations. Bob WITHERSPOON: Lorraine, I think also it goes back to what we talked about earlier: communication, communication, communication. There are many districts that, yes, they have sent the information home, and there are many schools that have sent the information home, but we’ve had the opportunity to work with some districts and schools, and once they really looked at what they sent home, they realized it wasn’t readable, it was too long, it

wasn’t…it used the education jargon, what supplemental services means to a parent, you know. So, again, we had opportunity to work with some districts around how to put their communication into plain language, how to make it more attractive and pleasing. But you know, districts don’t tend to think about that. They say, “Well, hey, this is for legislation, we’ve got to get it out to the families,” not taking the time to step back to say, how do we break this down so that people who are already bombarded with information, I mean, our schools send home lots of information on a daily basis, how do we break this down into a readable format, easy, two-sided maybe, or folded type, a brochure type, piece of information that parents will pay some attention to it and then call to get more information. So, we really have to focus on, again, the two-way communication, how to make it attractive, really using some of the same strategies that businesses use, and that corporations use when they want us to buy something. We probably don’t spotlight enough the positive things that are going on in terms of involving parents. I think one of the difficulties that we find when we go into districts is their plate seems so full, and especially under, “No Child Left Behind,” many of them feel like this is a whole lot of new things they’ll have to do. While parent involvement is important, they begin to prioritize. And, sometime it comes near the bottom of the plate, or off the plate. And, unless, I think, federal level, as well as state level, have to, when we review and monitor about technical assistance, we have to be as adamant about seeing that the parental involvement requirements are met as we are about other issues around compliance. I think we really need to make sure it’s on that equal plane. Ron mentioned something earlier, too, that I wanted to piggyback on. He talked about parents doing things at home. Now, when we look at some of the research, actually the new wave of evidence talks about, one of the conclusions drawn is that many parents, actually most parents, are doing things at home. But, what we failed to see is schools don’t often value that and recognize that. So, it still goes back to that two-way, recognizing what you’re doing at home, but here’s how we need to work together at school so that we can raise that to another level of achievement for your child. So, it’s going back to, I think, Sonya mentioned earlier, valuing parents. They’ll be many parents who will never come in, but that doesn’t mean that those parents aren’t checking homework, pushing their kids for certain classes, pushing for the AP kind of classes. So, I think schools do have to kind of recognize and value that role, that there are things that parents are doing at home, but I want you to make sure that there are some other things you can do at home. I had the privilege to visit a school a few years ago and the principal shared with me, I actually went to a third grade math class, and they were doing this new math, where you,

it’s very different from the math I had, but she said, ‘you know the parents were helping their kids at home and we could tell the kids would get the right answer, but they couldn’t explain the process,’ the principal said, until we began to do workshops with the parents. ‘We want the parents to help at home, but we have to explain to the parents this new process that we’re using to get one and one to equal two, it’s different from just getting two, now.’ But, she said that made all the difference in the world, as well as, began to increase their math scores. Sonia Diaz-SALCEDO: I think it’s also about setting priorities and recognizing what’s important in a district to move it forward, and as a superintendent, you have to set the example. We’re held to a higher standard. When we have parents surrounding us, in terms of everything that we do, it does convey a very powerful message about the importance of parents. In the first three days of school, in Bridgeport, we’ve already opened schools, we have back-to-school teams, that go and visit schools and they sort of monitor different elements of the opening of school, they look at facilities, they look at human resources, is every spot filled, have the teachers received materials, is the building clean, is everything happening according to the way that we envision a perfect school opening. Then, they come back and report. Parents are very much a part of those teams. So, it’s not about instilling fear, or having teams that go out and do the, “Gotcha,” but having parents go out and have conversations with people in schools about those pieces that are important, not just to the opening of the school, but to the running of the school throughout the year. But it is about surveying parents, finding out what their needs are. It’s about identifying what the priorities are, maybe helping set priorities in a different way, so that those pieces are understood by parents, and so teachers then get the professional development that they need. And, the survey for teachers is also important, as well, because one of the things that has surfaced, in terms of new teachers, is that one of the biggest areas where they have little understanding is how to deal with parents. Especially for teachers who come out of private institutions, or institutions and experiences where they may not have worked with individuals in urban settings, and what are the different pieces that they have to learn, that they have to know in order to be more effective. But, how to reach out to parents, how to create a classroom that’s parent-friendly, how to inform parents of what’s happening in a classroom, not just with the cute little newsletters, but having meetings of substance, where they really talk about instruction and how to do this, and how to do that. Ronald HOUSTON: And, I would add, when I’m talking with parents sometimes, a parent might say, “How can I make this happen in the school?” And he’ll say, well you really want to be dealing with being on committees, and where they’re making decisions, and some parents will

say, “Well, how can I know more about what’s happening with my child?” Well, then you’re talking about getting more information, understanding adequate yearly progress, understanding what scores on tests mean, and those kinds of things. But, there’s a real powerful piece, I think, in the legislation, and that is the consolidated application, the state…the parents need to know that there is an application that a district submits to the state Department of Education to receive millions and millions of dollars of funding, and in a way, it coordinates all of these into effective school programs. Parents have the right to look at those applications, to see what the schools and districts are going to do to support children, what funding is going to be used, and we’ve had examples in our state where, there are always parents who are out on the forefront, and sometimes they may be perceived as mavericks or strong advocates, but that’s important because there are those who the same, our interests are the same. And we try to communicate with districts, it’s a partnership, we don’t go to beat on districts about whether they’re involving the parents, parent involvement. We work with districts to help them understand how important it is in the system, and any way we can, to implement it. And, they look, in our state, for an example, they look at consolidated applications to see what parent involvement is actually being implemented… Lorraine WISE: So, Ron, would you tell us about the effective practices within your state? Ronald HOUSTON: Okay. We have a history in our state of strong parent involvement, especially with grassroots level parents. And, as Bob knows, the founder of the Coalition of Parents was a Delawarean, and so, we’ve had to take the energy and the advocacy of parents and turn that into a constructive force to help our schools improve. Our State Parent Advisory Council is a very active organization, we consider them as an advisory to the state and matters related to parent involvement. They conduct certain activities, they do training and keep the parents up to speed, we do presentations to them at all times. They participate on all of our committees, where we make decisions, they’re on our state committee for determining the adequate yearly progress level for our schools. They participate on committees dealing with our consolidated application, our state applications, the Department of Education, and so, they participate very much in that area. And, in addition to the State Parent Advisory Council, we have a foundation in our state that is really interested in, and working hard to train parents who can be advocates to go out and train other parents. So, we provide them with a lot of information about accountability, all of the requirements under, “No Child Left Behind.”

They also focus on the concerned parents being parents and raising children. So, some of those issues we talked about earlier that it’s so important, the relationship between parents and their children being extremely critical, they work with those kinds of areas as well. So, they have what they call a Parent-School, and it’s an opportunity for parents throughout the state to take classes in parent involvement. And, in addition to the project of creating parent leaders in all of our counties in the state, who then, and this first year will be the training, and in the second year, they go out and they train other parents. They’re compensated to do this. There’s a lot of training provided. We get the support of researchers who have new ideas, what the research tells us about parent involvement. So, we’re really excited about that. We’re excited because we believe that a parent who is prepared to participate, understands how to participate effectively, it’s what’s going to make the difference. A parent who understands that you have to set expectations for your child’s performance, and you have to work with they system to make that happen. So, we’re really excited about parent involvement, both from the perspective of the law, as well as the perspective of what we’re doing in our state. Lorraine WISE: Excellent, excellent. Bob WITHERSPOON: Lorraine, through my years, I’ve been able to see different evolving practices in parent engagement. Presently, with RMC Research we are partner in the Region Three Comprehensive Center, which serves six states here, but we’re also a technical system provider through the Parent Information Resource Centers, the PIRCs, and as we look at parent engagement now, we see there other avenues and other organizations that are really promoting, and getting parents involved. The National Urban League comes to mind, of course, the PTA has always done this. Ron talked about the National Coalition of Title I Parents, so it’s not just schools anymore, parents have other organizations that are really promoting and urging parents, and preparing parents to be involved. ACORN, we’ve looked at some of the work that they’ve been doing. But, some of the good practices that I’m seeing in places now are, of course, one’s that emerging, for many years now, is of course, the use of parent liaisons or parent coordinators. Many districts actually, through Title I, now have been able to hire people in this capacity, many times parents, whose jobs it is to go out and work for the parents. Clearly, they can be more effective because they’re targeted, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Of course, making sure they have the training and support is a whole other thing, but use of liaisons is really increasing.

Many districts have, and schools have begun to add parent resource centers or parent resource rooms, or parent corners. One of the complaints we often hear from parents is that, ‘my school doesn’t feel friendly,’ or ‘when I come into the school, I’m not welcome.’ So, these parent rooms, or parent resource centers provide parents with their own little space, in many places, where I can, at least, come in and get kind of comfortable, and get a cup of coffee, talk to someone that can help me navigate the school, or school district, or help me with my concern or problem that I might have. Many of them provide training and information for parents and how to work with their children. We know reading now is one of the key things, so being more focused around content subjects, such as reading and math, with parents, workshops about the state standards and what should I look for in my child’s classroom. Even sometimes someone will go with a parent for a parent conference, or something that’s happened at the school, the parent resource centers have been wonderful in that way. The other thing I’m starting to see a little more now, and we’re seeing this, I’ve seen it in Detroit, and Waterbury, and I think, San Diego for a long time, is to really have parent involvement at the cabinet level where it’s not way down where you never get to a superintendent, like Sonya talked about. She has the weekly opportunities to talk to parents. Dr. Crew in New York had the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, so I’m starting to see more places where the parent involvement is moved up from way down at a level to, at the cabinet level, where it’s brought up in cabinet meetings where you have other staff now, like the academic officers and other officers who now get to hear about parent involvement at that same level that they’re hearing about it, because it’s at that cabinet level now. So, those are some of the things that we’re starting to see. Training for parent liaisons. I mean we’ve had parent liaisons and coordinators for years, but nobody gave them the training. What is Title I? How do you develop a compact? How do you develop a policy? How do you get parents involved? How do you write to reach parents? So, those are some of the things that we’re starting to see that shows me that this has really come a long way from 1978 when I first started in this, to where we are now in terms of the level of, and the good things that we see going on. Of course, a lot of this now has been spurred on by the research. There’s much more research out there now. I’ve been fortunate to work with Joyce Epstein through her center, see some of the sites, like Baltimore, where they’ve really put almost three years into developing their policy, where they brought in researchers, they brought in others, who could help them really make this a comprehensive policy. Of course, then you, once you get the policy, then you’ve got to put the teeth behind it to make it happen, so that it doesn’t just become a piece of paper. Lorraine WISE: So, we do see that parental involvement can work, at a school level, at a district level, at

our state level, and that you’ve demonstrated that it is working across the nation. This concludes our webcast. Thank you for joining in. PANELISTS: Thank you for having us.