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The U.S. Department of Education invests in parents for a simple reason—it works. Over 35 years of research has proven that when families are involved in their children’s education, children do better in school. When parents are involved, schools improve, too.

Parental involvement is a pillar of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which became the law of the land in 2002.

NCLB defines parental involvement as:

…the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities including:

• Assisting their child’s learning;

• Being actively involved in their child’s education at school;

• Serving as full partners in their child’s education and being included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child; and

• The carrying out of other activities such as those described in Section 1118 of [the law].

NCLB has carved out new roles for parents because it views parents as crucial players in their children’s learning success. To help parents in this important role, NCLB requires schools to inform parents of and involve them in their children’s education in many new and thorough ways. Among the important NCLB provisions related to parental involvement are the following:

• New options for parents: expanded Public School Choice and free tutoring called Supplemental Educational Services (SES) for eligible children in low-performing schools.

Parent Involvement Policies for Schools and School Districts

Annual School Report Cards that give understandable information to parents and families about how their children’s schools are doing

Parental Notification Requirements regarding teacher qualifications, placement of English language learners, and parents’ right to decline the placement.

These and other requirements help foster parent/family involvement and strengthen the role of parents as “consumers” of their children’s education. NCLB envisions parents and families as agents of change, helping to improve their children’s education. The provisions mentioned above help arm parents/ families with the information they need to hold schools accountable and help schools improve.

Parent Involvement with the Greatest Impact

Researchers have found that close regular communication between families and teachers give students the biggest boost in their academic achievement. Some proven ways that make a big difference for children are:

• Families and teachers meeting face to face

• Families using materials sent home from teachers to help their children with homework

• Keeping in regular telephone communication with teachers when things are going well and when children are having problems.

These are the kind of things the NCLB intended by including “regular two-way communication” as part of the very definition of parental involvement. Family Involvement in Education provides suggestions on how to help your child learn at home.