The Role Policy Plays in Family Engagement
School and district policy plays an important role in school, family, and community partnerships. Policy and practice at the school and district level help schools and districts meet federal laws, define their commitment to and vision of family engagement, and assist parents and schools in focusing on roles, expectations, goals, and outcomes of family engagement initiatives.
Federal Law, Title I, and Family Engagement
The federal government has given mandates to schools and districts receiving Title I funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Title I is a funding stream that provides supplemental funds to school districts to help them meet the needs of at-risk and low-income students. Title I aims to bridge the gap between low-income students and other students, ensuring that all children have a fair and equal opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at minimum, proficiency on state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.
Title I districts must have a parent and family engagement policy that include provisions for two-way, meaningful communication about student academic learning and other school activities, ensuring that:
- Parents play an integral role in their child’s learning.
- Parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school.
- Parents are full partners in their child’s education.
- Parents are included in decision-making and on advisory committees.
Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Title I Policy
The Minnesota Department of Education offers support to schools and districts developing their annual Title I plans. Title I plans must involve parents in the planning process. Visit the Title I page
to learn more about Title I and access the parent involvement requirements. The parent involvement requirements document can serve as a framework for a district’s plan.
Going Beyond Mandated Policies and Practices
Having a solid family engagement policy in place is a good starting point for districts to meet federal requirements under ESEA. It is even better to expand the policy beyond the requirements and see family engagement as an essential component of high achievement for all students. Districts and schools with high-quality family engagement programs recognize the diversity of families and their circumstances, and envision families as essential partners in the educational process. They believe that healthy partnerships with parents will lead to better achievement for all. A strong family engagement policy helps build long-term effective relationships with parents and communities, builds capacity in families and school staff, empowers parents and staff to share in the responsibility of educating students, and clarifies the roles, responsibilities and expectations of all stakeholders.Sample Family Engagement Policies
MSBA (Minnesota School Boards Association) Sample Policy 612.1
: Development of Parental Involvement Policies for Title I Programs. This policy, or a similar one, is mandated for all districts receiving federal Title I funding. See the sample policy on the MSBA website
Sample Policy and Procedure from Washington State
. This policy includes parent involvement, cultural inclusiveness, a focus on partnership related to student achievement, and aspects related to both staff and families. The procedure offers more detail on carrying out district and school-wide family engagement policies. It includes specifics on definitions, implementation, roles and responsibilities, and evaluation. The procedure aligns with the work of Dr. Joyce Epstein and the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) from Johns Hopkins University. See the model policy on the Washington state website
Sample Policy from Iowa
. This basic policy outlines the rationale for committing to family engagement district-wide. It includes components across grade levels for multiple stakeholders, partnership commitments, and a commitment to an annual evaluation of effectiveness. Read the sample policy on the National School Boards Association website
Baltimore County Public Schools Rule
. The rule includes definitions, guidelines, practices and compliance topics. The rule also aligns with the work of Dr. Joyce Epstein and the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) from Johns Hopkins University. Read Rule 1270 on the BCPS website