By Jessica Vician
School funding. It’s a term that causes many to shake their heads, as we know how critical quality education is to the future of our country and society, yet states continue to cut it. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 31 states provided less school funding in 2014 than they did in 2008.
But there is more pressure on schools to bring in and retain strong teachers, expand programs, and improve student test scores. With decreased funding from both state and local governments, how can schools invest in programs that will help teachers and boost student achievement, like parent engagement programs?
They must invest in the right program—one that will build capacity and create a sustainable program without costly annual renewals or overhauls. This type of parent engagement program trains staff and parents in the best strategies to practice so they can then train others.
For example, during the various YOU Program workshops, we train attendees to evaluate the school’s current parent engagement strategies and efforts. We also teach them about the effect parent engagement has on student success so they understand where to focus their efforts moving forward. Then, we train them on the latest and best practices for parent engagement so they can create new strategies to implement in the school.
Once they attend a YOU Program workshop, attendees can help the school reach its parent engagement goals by creating and implementing customized strategies for the school.
Sustain the Program
When parents, teachers, and/or staff learn to train others in these parent engagement best practices, they can sustain the program year after year. Invest in a Training Workshop or Parent Leadership Training Workshop and those individuals can train future parent leaders and new staff each year.
Under this model, your base of trained parent leaders, teachers, and staff will train incoming parents and staff each year so that retiring teachers and staff, as well as parents whose students are graduating, are replaced with qualified and well-trained individuals.
Use Title Funding
Parent involvement programs qualify for several federal funding opportunities that can assist your school in this investment.
Title I, Part A, Section 1118 requires that qualified schools build capacity and leadership, guide parents to support academic achievement, and make information fully accessible.
The YOU Program, available in English and Spanish, satisfies these requirements and has been used by many schools to invest in parent engagement.
- Trains parents in academic support and success.
- Introduces parents to state standards and standardized testing.
- Promotes involvement in all its forms and solicits involvement from parents on the spot.
- Captures feedback from parents directly.
- Trains staff and professionals to work with parents and engage them authentically.Is research-based and sustainable.
- Provides program summaries, parent feedback, and measurable data to principles and district leaders to include in their annual reports.
Title II funding addresses programs and services for professional development, which are met through YOU Program training workshops and teacher training.
- Provides professional development that promotes the understanding that parents are true partners in their children’s education.
- Provides professional development that allows professionals to effectively communicate the need for parents to help their children succeed in school.
- Provides professional development that allows staff to provide parents with specific suggests, on an ongoing bases, about ways to encourage learning at home.
- Provides professional development that allows staff to provide parents with specific suggestions, on an ongoing basis, about ways to be actively involved in their child’s education at school.
Title III funding addresses programs and services for English Language Learning (ELL) populations, which is why the bilingual availability of the YOU Program—at all levels—is critical for this population.
- Promotes parental and community participation in language instruction educational programs for the parents and communities of limited English proficient children.
- Implements culturally and linguistically appropriate family education programs, parent outreach, and training activities that are designed to assist parents of limited English proficient children to become active participants in the education of their children.
Invest Conservatively at First
If your school currently lacks the budget to invest in a self-sustaining program like the YOU Program, start small. We provide customized support from YOU Program Experts who are trained education professionals. These experts can consult with your administrators and educators to determine the most efficient and cost-conscious methods that your school can implement now.
They can put a basic plan together for your school that dedicated staff can implement as the school year begins. Then, once you’re ready for professional training, we can come back with parent and teacher training workshops.
By using one or all of these four methods, you can still invest in a parent engagement program or strategies while on a tight budget. Your teachers, parents, and students will all benefit from these lessons and your school should see improved test scores soon after implementation.