Unique policy levers to promote parent engagement

Unique policy levers to promote parent engagement

November 2014

Unless otherwise noted, all information in this resource was gathered from state statutes only and does not include policies in state-level guidance documents or arising from court orders.

Unique policy levers to promote parent engagement
Federal Law Notification: Schools must notify the parents of students identified as ELLs within 30 days of the start of the school year. Parents must receive information about the program their child has been placed in and their right to remove their child from the program. Information should be in an understandable format and, when practicable, in a language the parent can understand. 

Outreach: Schools must create an outreach program so ELLs’ parents know how to be involved in their children’s education, including regular meetings to respond to parents’ recommendations.
School districts with more than 50 ELLs have district advisory committees on programs and services for ELLs, and schools with more than 20 ELLs have school advisory committees on education programs and services for ELLs. The parents of ELLs elect the parent members of the committees.  

School District Advisory Committees advise the school district governing board on at least the following:
  • Developing a district ELL education programs master plan, which should take into consideration schools' master plans.
  • Conducting a district wide needs assessment on a school-by-school basis.
  • Establishing a district ELL program and program goals and objectives.
  • Developing a compliance plan for teacher and/or teacher aide requirements.
  • Administering the annual language census.
  • Reviewing and commenting on the school district's reclassification procedures.
  • Reviewing and commenting on the written notifications districts and schools are required to send to ELLs' parents.
Connecticut School districts are required to hold meetings with parents of ELLs and explain the benefits of the language program options available in the school district.
Florida An ELL Committee is a group composed of ESOL teachers and home language teachers, and an administrator or designee plus guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists or other educators as appropriate, to resolve any issue that affects the instructional program of an ELL. The parent/guardian must be invited to serve on the ELL Committee for his or her child.
Each school district is required to establish a parent advisory committee that gives parents the opportunity to express their views and ensures that the programs are planned, operated, and evaluated in consultation with parents of ELLs. The majority of committee membership must be parents of students in transitional bilingual education programs but must also include transitional bilingual education teachers, counselors, and representatives from community groups.
Indiana The principal of a school operating a bilingual-bicultural program must appoint a local advisory committee composed of:
  • Teachers of bilingual-bicultural instruction who are proficient in both English and a non-English language and certified to teach a subject, including the history and culture of both the United States and the homeland of the non-English language;
  • Counselors;
  • Community members; and
  • Parents of students enrolled or eligible for enrollment in the bilingual-bicultural program.
A majority of the committee members must be parents. At least one member of each local advisory committee is selected to serve on a corporation (district) advisory committee, the majority membership of which must be parents. The local and corporation advisory committees participate in planning, implementing, and evaluating the bilingual-bicultural programs. All bilingual-bicultural programs must be approved by the appropriate local advisory committee before implementation.
School districts must solicit the views of parents about ELL programs and the programs' effects upon their children.
Nevada The two members of the 16-member English mastery council are parents or legal guardians of ELL students. The council makes recommendations to the state board and annually reviews and makes recommendations on district policies on ELLs. In addition, it makes recommendations to the superintendent of public instruction, the commission on professional standards in education and the state board for the adoption and revision of regulations concerning the requirements for an endorsement to teach English as a second language. It must also develop standards and criteria for an ELL curriculum and submit them to the state board for consideration. It is required to review any course of study offered by the Nevada system of higher education for training to teach ESL to determine if the course of study, including student teaching, is sufficiently rigorous to provide teachers with the tools necessary to improve the English proficiency and academic achievement and proficiency of ELLs. 

New Jersey School districts must establish a parent advisory committee on bilingual education with parents of ELLs as the majority membership. School districts must also involve ELLs' parents in the review and development of ESL/bilingual program objectives and in communicating information to communities served by the ELL programs.

Parents may appeal a decision that the student exit or remain in an ELL/bilingual program. If a parent exhausts the local appeals process, the parent may appeal to the commissioner of education. The county superintendent must approve if a parent wants to remove a student from an ELL/bilingual program before the end of a school year.
New Mexico Districts with a bilingual program must establish a parent advisory committee, representative of the language and culture of the students, to assist and advise in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program.
New York Districts and schools must provide an orientation session on state standards, assessments, school expectations and general program requirements for ELL programs to parents of students newly identified as ELLs. If needed, the orientation must be provided in the parents' first language and within a certain time frame after the student is enrolled.

Starting in 2015-2016, the orientation must be held before a student is enrolled in a program (students will be placed in a program if the parent does not attend). In addition, school districts must provide parents with an opportunity to return a signed notification form that they are in agreement with their child's placement. If a parent does not return the form, the parent still has the right to make the final decision about the student's placement. Finally, school districts must meet individually with the parents of ELLs at least once a year, in addition to parent-teacher conferences or other scheduled meetings, to discuss the student's English language development progress. When needed, an interpreter must be provided.

Districts are allowed to provide adult education programs, particularly for the parents of ELLs.

New York City has a city-wide council on English language learners, and nine of the twelve members must be parents of students in an ESL or bilingual program.
North Dakota School districts must create a language support team for ELL students to discuss the student's educational and language needs. Parents are invited to be a member of the team and contribute to the student's individualized language plan.
Rhode Island School districts must do the following to encourage parent involvement:
  • The school district's ELL liaison must work with parents to create a parent involvement plan that includes outreach to the ELL community and informs parents of the ways they can be involved with the education of their children.
  • Provide culturally and linguistically appropriate parent-education programs, outreach, or training activities to help parents actively participate in their children's education.
  • Include input from ELLs' parents when considering improvements to ELL programs and other programs in which ELLs may be involved.
  • Present the annual ELL action plan for parent review, including ELL performance on state assessments and ELL graduation rates.
  • Schools with more than 20 ELL students must have at least one parent representative from each language group at the school serving on School Improvement Teams.
  • Create a district-wide ELL Advisory Committee consisting of parents and ELL educators. Parent membership must be representative of the language groups in the district. The committee will advise schools and the district on ELL-related matters, such as unmet needs of ELL students, compliance with state and federal laws, evaluation of ELL programs, and so on. Districts with few ELLs are encouraged to create a regional advisory committee.
Parents have the right to appeal any ELL decision affecting their child, and the department of education must prepare a simple-language explanation of the appeals process for parents.
Texas School districts that are required to offer bilingual education and special language programs must establish a language proficiency assessment committee that includes a professional bilingual educator, a professional transitional language educator, a parent of a limited English proficiency student, and a campus administrator to review all pertinent information on ELLs, make recommendations concerning the most appropriate placement for the educational advancement of the ELL after the elementary grades, review each limited ELL's progress at the end of the school year to determine future appropriate placement, monitor the progress of students formerly classified as ELL who have transferred out of the bilingual education or special language program, and determine the appropriateness of a program that extends beyond the regular school year based on the needs of each limited ELL.

In school districts and grade levels not required to provide a bilingual education program, the language proficiency assessment committee is composed of one or more professional personnel, a campus administrator, and a parent of an ELL participating in the program designated by the school district.
Wisconsin In school districts with bilingual-bicultural education programs, the school board may appoint a bilingual-bicultural advisory committee so parents and teachers may advise the school board on the program. The committee must include, parents, bilingual and other teachers, bilingual teacher's aides, counselors and counselor's aides (bilingual and otherwise), and a community and school district administration representative.

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