How to Build Critical Family Engagement in Title I Schools
Engagement has long been a cornerstone for crafting effective and successful policy at all levels of government. The importance of an engaged audience goes beyond government, as well. In the education sector, parent and family involvement is equally critical to not only developing policies for schools, but keeping audiences informed of a school’s performance or other important information.
In fact, engagement is considered such a significant part of education policy at the school level that the federal government requires engagement guidelines be met as part of funding received by schools as part of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act).
What are Title I Schools?
Aimed at helping provide financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families, Title I helps ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. Federal funds are currently allocated through four statutory formulas that are based primarily on census poverty estimates and the cost of education in each state
This federally supported program helps ensure students receive an equitable, high-quality, well-rounded education by providing instructional activities and supportive services to eligible students over and above those provided by the regular school program.
Qualified Title I schools operate as school-wide programs or targeted assistance programs based upon federal eligibility criteria, either providing comprehensive support to offer improved opportunities for all students in the school to meet the school system’s academic standards or targeting services to those eligible students most in need of assistance in the school, as determined by objective criteria established by the superintendent or designee.
Engagement: A Major Requirement of Title I Funding
Title I aims to create effective means of improving student achievement and, by statute, must include evidence-based strategies to support parent and family engagement. Parental and family involvement is at the core of developing Title I programs, starting from involvement in a system-wide Parent Advisory Council that works with the school to develop Title I programming and school support, and continuing through participation in annual evaluations of the program’s content and effectiveness.
Communication and engagement with families is critical through all parts of a Title I school, with federal statute calling for schools to “coordinate and integrate parent and family engagement strategies in the Title I program to the extent feasible and appropriate with parental engagement strategies established in other federal, state, and local laws and programs” to be eligible for funding.
Title I schools are also charged to “strive to eliminate barriers to parental participation by assisting parents who have disabilities and parents who are economically disadvantaged, have limited English proficiency, are migratory, or have other backgrounds or characteristics that may affect participation and providing all communications in an easy-to-understand format for all parents.”
Federal guidelines place the relationship between families and school front and center throughout every step of the educational process, from providing information on teacher qualifications upon request to providing notice of the right to request information regarding student participation in state-required assessments.
Digital Tools That Manage Title I Demands
Many school districts that include schools receiving Title I funds have grown their bandwidth to manage dedicated requirements. Program Directors and staff focused on parental engagement concerns have become important parts of building successful Title I departments in school districts across the country.
Fortunately, digital tools, such as Granicus’ EngagementHQ, can help school districts of all sizes easily create, manage, and grow engagement resources. The EngagementHQ platform can be used to listen to family feedback, provide information and updates on important school policies, and include students and parents in decisions that impact their education, all important aspects of meeting engagement requirements for Title I funding.
EngagementHQ provides additional benefits as well, allowing school districts throughout North America to uncover actionable insights from collected community feedback, and create a database that can help segment and personalize communications with difficult-to-reach or underserved communities.
Discover how EngagementHQ can help your school district improve engagement and help get more families involved!