Timothy Speth, Steffen Saifer, and Gregory Forehand
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
This report evaluates the compliance of schools in five northwest states (Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska) with the parental involvement provisions of NCLB. Under one such rule, improvement plans for schools "in need of improvement" must draw on parents in three ways: notify them of the school's improvement status, provide opportunities for them to collaborate and communicate on the plan, and incorporate "effective" parental involvement activities within the plan. Such activities include involving parents in decision making, educating teachers and administrators on the value of parents' contributions, coordinating parent involvement, and identifying resources for that involvement. This study examined sundry school improvement plans against these statutory obligations and found-no big surprise-that the majority fell short. Also unsurprising was that while 75 percent of elementary schools reported parental involvement in improvement plan development, that number dropped to 68 percent for middle schools and to 57 percent for high schools. (It's long been known that parents are less apt to "involve" themselves with schools as their children get older.) We could lament these schools' noncompliance, but the problem here may be simply that NCLB's attempt to legislate parental involvement was wishful and naïve. The study isn't perfect, either; it only evaluated improvement plans (i.e. what the school said it would do) and not their implementation. You can find it here.