How to Prioritize Parent Engagement in Your 2016-2017 Budget

How to prioritize parent engagement for the 2016-2017 school year. Text sits over a blurred image of an empty classroom with colorful chairs.

By Jessica Vician

Parent engagement is critical to student success. You know it, we know it, and the research supports it. But in today’s education space, there are so many requirements, reports, needs, and wants that it seems impossible to add another thing to the list, regardless of how beneficial it may be.

So let’s make it easy. From the research to the budget to the implementation, here’s why you need to prioritize parent engagement in your 2016-2017 budget.

The Research
“Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home are linked to higher student achievement.”

The above is just one of the key findings from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory’s (SEDL) A New Wave of Evidence, an extensive research report on the impact of family involvement on student achievement. These findings prove that parent and family engagement benefit the student, the school, and the educators.

According to the report, family involvement at home has a “protective effect on children as they progress through our complex education system.” The more support a family provides, the better the child will perform in school. That child is also more likely to continue his or her education.

These findings apply to families of all cultural backgrounds, education and income levels, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Among the many recommendations from the report, one specifically states that more parent engagement programs should be offered at the elementary level and especially in middle and high school.

These programs are often offered at the Head Start and elementary level, but both programs and engagement tend to drop off in middle and high school, which is exactly why schools should be focusing their efforts at all education levels.

Further proof includes the benefits students receive from continued parent engagement. From the report:

  • Higher GPAs and standardized test scores
  • More classes passed and credits earned
  • Better attendance
  • Enrollment in more advanced academic programs
  • Better social skills and adaptation to school

The Budget
As you can see, parent engagement clearly leads to greater student achievement. So how can you create room in your budget for a parent engagement program like the YOU Program?

The most common way to finance a parent engagement program is to use the Title I, Part A, Section 1118 funds that are reserved for parent involvement. These funds are specifically designated to the following goals:

  • Building school capacity and leadership
  • Guiding parents to support academic achievement
  • Making information fully accessible to parents

You may also be able to use Title III funds for bilingual parent engagement programs, like the YOU Program.

If you have an Early Head Start or Head Start program, the YOU Program meets the following Head Start parent engagement outcomes as well:

  • Build positive parent-child relationships
  • Promote families as lifelong educators
  • Guide continued engagement through transitions
  • Encourage parent support networks and school leadership

At the YOU Program, we have found the most effective implementations happen at the district level. With a program launch, you’re demonstrating a strong dedication to your staff and parents.

Teacher Training
Begin with a teacher training, which is a professional development opportunity that will show your staff that you are investing in tools that will make their jobs easier and help them succeed. The teacher training is uniquely designed for staff who work with parents of students, including: teachers, social workers, counselors, and coaches.

During our teacher training, your staff will learn to establish and implement strategies for an effective home-school partnership. These strategies will lead to an increase in parent involvement and improved student performance.

Parent Workshops
Once your staff has participated in the teacher training, it will be time to get the parents involved. Parent workshops demonstrate to parents that you value their role in their children’s education and want to see their children succeed.

During a parent workshop, parents will learn the value of parent engagement and new strategies to try at home. They will also learn about college and career readiness and how to communicate and partner with your school.

These workshops empower parents to take on leadership roles at the school to change parent engagement culture.

Training Workshops
Once you identify those parent leaders, host a training workshop where they can learn to strategize sustainable parent engagement efforts and conduct parent events for ongoing development at your school.

These workshops are also for school staff and administrators, as they and the parent leaders will learn how to effectively create and maintain sustained engagement in your school’s parent population. By the end of the workshop, all attendees will be certified workshop leaders who can then deliver the parent workshops throughout the year to new groups of parents.

By using this implementation model, you will not only satisfy Title I parent involvement goals, but you will have a sustainable parent engagement program that will continue to grow and maintain itself. That program will result in increased student achievement and more students seeking higher education after graduation.

Are you ready to get started for the 2016-2017 school year? Contact us with any questions about the program, funding, or supporting research. We believe parent engagement is a critical tool to student success. The research proves it. What are you waiting for? Join the movement and get results.