Anne Arundel County Public Schools is on a Journey to Greatness and our goal is “to ensure that every student meets or exceeds standards as achievement gaps are eliminated.”
The Strategic Plan approved by our board in June provides a foundation and focus for the efforts of all AACPS employees. It defines the work of our organization over the next five years and provides direction to guide, while not limiting, future opportunities.
There is, however, one piece that must be taken on by the community and that is parent involvement and community support.
We hear the term “parent involvement” a lot, but what does it really mean?
The Federal Title 1 legislation defines parent involvement as “the participation of parents in regular, two-way, meaningful communication involving students’ academic learning and other school activities.”
AACPS has a Parent/Family/Community Involvement Policy to help facilitate in the engagement of families. Our policy incorporates six National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement, based on the research done by Dr. Joyce Epstein and shared by National PTA, Project Appleseed, and the U.S. Department of Education. Those standards are:
- Learning at Home
- Decision Making
- Collaborating with Community
We are very fortunate to have active volunteers in all of our schools. Volunteers are crucial, but we also realize that many parents are not available during school hours. The involvement of such parents is equally important for AACPS to reach our goal to eliminate the achievement gap.
Research has shown over and over again students succeed at higher rates when families, regardless of race, ethnicity, or parental level of education, are involved with their children’s education both at school and at home. Those students are more likely to earn higher grades and pass their classes, attend school regularly, and obtain a postsecondary education.
Making sure your student is prepared for school is a vital component of parent involvement. Ensuring that children have plenty of rest, have the supplies that they need, and good nutrition are keys to success.
One of the simplest ways to be involved is to ask your student what happened during their day, and don’t accept “nothing” as the answer. Start by simply ask who they ate lunch with, or who they played with at recess. Then dive into the harder questions such as: What did you do in Math today? What book are you reading in Language Arts? What is your art project this week? Before you know it you won’t even have to ask. They will be anxious to tell you all about their day.
Communication is key. If you have questions, ask, don’t wait. Send an e-mail to the teacher, and make friends with other parents in the community to help share info. Join the parent group at your school. Read the school newsletter. Make sure that you are signed up for the school system’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and to receive Connect-ED telephone and email messages. You do the latter through your child’s school, and you should contact them quickly if you are not already signed up. If your child is in middle or high school, are you signed up for ParentConnectxp?
Join us on the Journey to Greatness. Together we can reach our goal “to ensure that every student meets or exceeds standards as achievement gaps are eliminated.”
To learn more about Parent Involvement, here are a few links that you may find helpful.
A New Wave of Evidence: the Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement
This blog post was written by Deborah T. Ritchie, who was appointed to a five-year term on the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County in July 2010. She previously served as President of the Maryland Parent Teacher Association.