Parent Involvement

No Child Left Behind and Parental Involvement

Across the nation, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has sparked an increased awareness in the value of meaningful parental involvement in public schools. The No Child Left Behind Act became law in 2002 with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). NCLB calls for improved student achievement based on four principles that provide a framework for teaching and learning. The four guiding principles are accountability for results, local control and flexibility, expanded parental choice, and effective and successful programs that reflect scientifically based research. Most importantly, NCLB specifically requires that schools identify parents as decision makers and meaningfully involve them in their child’s education.


 So what is meaningful parental involvement?

Section 1118 of the NCLB Act defines parental involvement as “the participation of parents in regular two-way and meaningful communication that involves student learning and other school activities.” Parental (or family) involvement is much more than names on a sign-in sheet. Just saying “we had families involved in this process” is not a valid measure of quality parental involvement.

To achieve positive and effective partnerships, each partner must play a useful role in the process. No one person can do it alone and there is no single “expert”. It is important for all participants in the process to recognize and acknowledge that every person brings a very unique element to the team. Together, everyone gains new knowledge by asking questions, brainstorming and sharing ideas while working toward a common goal. Creating partnerships lightens the load for all those involved, and help schools meet the requirements of NCLB to improve student outcomes.

 

Parental involvement comes in many forms and it is as unique as each of the families that shape a community.

It is a continual learning process that includes gathering information, tapping resources, knowing about choices and communicating with other parents. Educators and administrators need to know that a simple, yet genuine, invitation to participate is a starting place. Meaningful parental involvement begins when invitations are combined with actions that recognize families as competent, useful and important members of the partnership for student success.