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SDI FAQ Topic 4- Family and Community Engagement

Publication dateSeptember 2016
publication pdfSDI FAQ Topic 4- Family and Community Engagement

Family and community engagement is an important component of improving and, most importantly, sustaining improvement in schools and districts identified for low performance. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requirements enhance this area for a number of reasons. First, under NCLB the term "parental involvement" was used. Under ESSA, the language also includes "parent and family engagement." While a minor language change, identified schools often have students who live in a variety of homesituations and this relatively simple shift validates those alternate family structures, and recognizes theimportance of a student's entire family. In addition, several parts of ESSA encourage - and in some cases require - additional family and community engagement. Examples of these opportunities include:

  • Broad stakeholder engagement during the ESSA planning process;
  • The fifth "school quality" or "student success" indicator could include measures of familyand community engagement (as long as the indicator meets all of the other requirementsincluding the ability to disaggregate by student subgroups and is consistently collectedacross the state;
  • The inclusion of family and community engagement in the development of ComprehensiveSupport & Intervention (CSI) and/or Targeted Support & Intervention (TSI) in schoolimprovement plans;
  • Shifting broader authority to state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies(LEAs) and providing those entities with greater autonomy to engage families, communities,and their respective organizations in planning, implementation, and monitoring;
  • Similar to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), utilization of at least 1 percent of Title I fundsto engage parents in the school community (note that this does not apply to LEAs receivingTitle I allocations of $500,000 or less);
  • The ability for parents to select "direct student services" (tutoring, advanced coursework,etc.) for their children if the SEA elects to provide those services;
  • The requirement for parents to be involved in the development of a state's InnovativeAssessment and Accountability System, if the SEA elects to develop such a system andsubmit it for U.S. Department of Education approval;
  • The requirement for LEAs to consult with parents on the uses of funds under the newStudent Support and Academic Enrichment block grant; and
  • The requirement that parents and families must be "meaningfully" consulted during thedevelopment of an SEA's implementation plan.

SEAs must now reexamine their role in supporting family and community engagement and how to movebeyond the traditional strategies that have been used for many years - that may or may not have real impact on improving and sustaining student achievement.

This document focuses on SEA support to LEAs and schools with family and community engagement with an emphasis on the lowest-performing schools. For resources on how the SEA can engage with families and communities on state policy decisions, such as development and implementation of an ESSA state plan, please see CCSSO's Getting Started: A Guide on Stakeholder Outreach.

Contact:Adam Petermannadam.petermann@ccsso.org202-336-7076