New Jersey has a long tradition of supporting small community and neighborhood schools. This is exemplified in the number of small, single school districts. Nevertheless, Title I legislation requires that schools identified as in need of improvement must offer intradistrict choice to the parents of children enrolled in these schools. Congress expressed the concern that many Title I families from high poverty communities, should have options for improved educational opportunities for their children. The provision of intradistrict choice was, therefore, included in the legislation to afford these families such opportunities.
for School Improvement
Despite the requirement for intradistrict choice, the primary goal is school improvement. All improvement efforts should begin with a critical analysis of school performance. Strengths as well as weaknesses should be identified. As you conduct your review, it is suggested that you invite parents and students to provide input along with that of teachers and outside consultants.
Along with your school analysis, research on proven, "scientifically research-based instructional designs and strategies" needs to be conducted. As you match research-based programs to needs, again the input of the full community should be invited.
With community involvement in the planning process, general community support for the school and its improvement efforts is gained.
of Parental Involvement
The educational research literature clearly shows that when parents are involved in and support their childrens education, the children consistently perform better. As you go through the improvement process, therefore, one key component to support your school improvement efforts should be the engagement of parents in the process. Developing real partnerships that enable parents to better support their childs learning turns into a win-win situation for all.
Parents of Choice Options
Plan carefully before you inform parents of the schools status and choice options. It is suggested that you may want to hold a general information meeting during which a question and answer time is provided to respond to parents concerns.
At the meeting, plan to share with parents:
Performance Profile. The performance data of the school compared to both state performance standards and adequate yearly progress measures. Obviously, if you have made strong gains in one content area despite low performance in another, highlight this success and efforts in the high-performing area, as well as the low-performing area.
School Plans for Improvement. Be prepared to share the schools plan to boost achievement in the upcoming year. If you have not yet developed a comprehensive plan for improving achievement, outline the planning process and invite the parents to be a part of that process.
Importance of Parent Involvement. One consistent predictor of school success is the engagement of parents in their childs education. Share this information with parents and invite them to partner with you as you move forward in boosting your schools performance.
Offer Choice Options. Tell parents that despite your hope that they will want to partner with you, they still have the right to request a transfer to another school if your district has the capacity. (Please see Title I Schools In Need of Improvement, Intradistrict Choice Options attachment.)
If you lack capacity, please remember you must still let parents know of your status and other interdistrict choices available.