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Kentucky State Board Member Urges Adoption of Strong Parent Engagement Policies


Before the pandemic, only 33 percent of parents experienced frequent communications with their children’s teachers, according to the research and advocacy group Learning Heroes. Now, nearly all parents of school-aged children report frequent contact with teachers. In a new NASBE Policy Update, Kentucky state board member and special education teacher Allison Slone argues that state boards of education should seize the opportunity the pandemic created to strengthen policies to ensure that parents and caregivers can engage meaningfully in school decision making.

Regardless of family income or background, students whose parents are involved in their schooling are more likely to have greater academic success, attend school regularly, have better social skills and behavior, and adapt well to school. Moreover, when parents are involved at school, the performance of all children at the school improves.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) calls for school policies to address parental involvement and monitor effectiveness. But too often, schools meet this requirement minimally, says Slone. Other obstacles to family engagement include work and family constraints, language barriers, and a lack of cultural acceptance or perceived racial biases.

Slone argues that these barriers can and should be addressed through well-implemented policy, which should include opportunities for parents and caregivers to receive training, influence school policy, improve student achievement, and be involved in curriculum, activities, and school functions.

Slone highlights the strides that Delaware, Michigan, Texas, and Ohio are making on family engagement. Her own state, Kentucky, has a Commissioner’s Parent Advisory Council to advise the state board and is the first state to adopt comprehensive school performance descriptors for family and community involvement focused on improving student achievement. In all, 39 states have parent or family engagement policies, and at least 5 have parent advisory councils.

“Over the last several months, education has changed drastically all over the country,” writes Slone. “Parents and teachers are now more connected than ever. This shift in parental involvement and educator outreach makes this the perfect time to develop and ensure that policy is meaningful and deliverable going forward.”

Read and share Developing State and District Parent Engagement Policies.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances.

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