John Monfredo: Time to Review Your School-Parent Compact
Saturday, September 01, 2012
Every school receiving Title I funds must develop a compact. The compact serves as a clear reminder of everyone’s responsibility to take action at school and at home so that all children can achieve success in school. This written agreement indicates how all members of a school community, parents, teachers, and the community concur to share responsibility for student learning. We all know that if student’s academics are to improve there must be a partnership between the school and the home. Even if your school is not listed as a Title I school consider working (school and parents) on a compact.
The key to the success of the compact rest with both parties. They both need to take the compact seriously and review it periodically. Parents must be given a voice in this process and be willing to take on responsibilities for learning at home. Schools must want to enter a strong relationship with parents and work on setting the tone with good communication.
A good compact should outline how parents, the entire staff and students will share the responsibility for improved student academic achievement. Every effort must be made to include all Title I parents in the discussion and the design of the compact. Even if a school has a strong compact the year before, it should be evaluated regularly each year and the necessary changes made if needed.
The compact needs to outline how the school and the parents will build and develop a partnership to help children achieve high academic standards. Parent responsibilities should also be outlined such as monitoring attendance, home reading, homework completion, television watching, volunteering in their child’s classroom and participating in decisions relating to the education of their child. Communication from the school must be on a continuous basis including parent-teacher conferences and reports to the parents on their child’s progress.
Here in Worcester many of our schools have done a good job in putting together a compact. Here are some examples: At Roosevelt Elementary the compact states: “Coordinated whole-school efforts to have all Roosevelt students show growth in their ability to read and comprehend various genres through the implementation of a common consistent set of school-wide teaching strategies. Growth in student learning will be measured by DIBELS, DRA, MAP, MEPA, and MCAS.”
At Chandler Magnet they start off by stating, "The Worcester Public Schools Compact is the foundation for the Chandler Magnet School Compact which states that our goal is 'Delivering on High Expectations and Outstanding Results for All Students.'…100 percent of students will be guaranteed a rigorous core curriculum resulting in measurable gains in student learning that will ultimately lead to successful completion of high school coursework that prepares them for college and career…”
It is essential that schools and parents link the compact to learning. The Schools and Parents should be checking your school’s test data. Look for areas where students’ scores are low, and for gaps between different groups of students. I would also try to focus on issues such as homework, communications, and rules of behavior. For each issue, list what parents, teachers and students can do. Again, it is essential that the schools and the parents revisit the compact every year and during the year review its effectiveness and ask the question, how can we make this better?
Title I requires that parents be involved in developing the school plan, but does not require that parents approve the plan. However, it is essential that that the school-parent compact be a strong tool for parental involvement in the school’s Title I program.
When the compact has been completed every effort should be made to share the document with the parents, through the PTO and a site council. The schools then needs to work on getting the compact distributed to the parents and the community. The schools may want to include the compact in the school newsletter and on the web site. Remember this needs to be a collaborative effort by all … school and the parents. The month of September is the time to get started and get the conversation going so good luck and let’s do it for the children.
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