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Plan for Parent and Community Involvement Eric M. Conn ELPA 845 Dr. Kent Peterson 5 August 2010 Conn 2 Wisconsin Virtual Learning (WVL) currently has no formal parent involvement plan. The virtual charter school created by the Northern Ozaukee School District (NOSD) in 2003 was founded on a strong educational partnership between the school and families. Peterson (1996) notes that meaningful parent involvement leads to increased parent commitment to the school. As a choice school WVL recognizes that parent commitment is essential and places importance on parent involvement. Yet programs are implemented often as a response to an immediate need or concern rather than being part of a long-term plan. As a result, efforts are carried out by individuals independent of each other, with the lack of communication or central coordination leading to overlapping initiatives or information not being relayed to the persons responsible for administrative functions. Background and Proposed Plan It should be noted that parents with students in a virtual school are have additional responsibilities to those of a traditional school. Virtual school students spend their time in school in the home environment and complete most activities independently. This necessitates parents being responsible for supervising the students while they are “in school.” The following chart compares the responsibilities of traditional and virtual school parents. Common Parent Responsibilities WVL-specific Parent Responsibilities Getting students “to school” Supervising students “during” school. Monitoring progress & grades Making sure students complete Communicating with teachers and assigned activities school staff Getting students to offline in-person events (social outings and field trips). The following plan is a proposal to formalize and streamline current parent and community involvement in WVL. It maintains some existing initiatives and programs, makes some modifications, and also includes additions to strengthen the parent-school educational Conn 3 partnership. The plan follows the framework by Joyce Epstein et al. (2002) to categorize the actions. In addition to traditional school staff, WVL has a few unique positions to address the needs of the online environment: Student Learning Advocate (SLA): Non-classroom certified teachers who serve as a liaison between families and WVL. SLAs answer questions, provide information, and help monitor student progress. WVL Project Coordinator: This position is responsible for coordinating open enrollment, registration, and school events. Parent Involvement Plan Action Goals Person(s) Responsible Timeline Parenting Assistance to parents in maintaining SLAs Live events in August & an effective home-learning September. environment – physical space and Additional live events in “school time.” This will include live February (start of 2nd in-person and online sessions. A semester) written “Frequently Asked Communication ongoing Questions” document will also be as part of regular SLA developed. contacts FAQ document completed by November. Instruction for parents on using SLAs – hosting live Live events in August & online Learning Management sessions September. System (LMS) to monitor student Helpdesk – create Additional live events at progress. Live online sessions and ‘how to” document. start of 2nd semester. “how to documents”. Teachers – provide Communication ongoing input to SLAs and as part of regular SLA Helpdesk contacts “How to” document completed by November. Communicating Check-in calls to families regarding SLAs Minimum of biweekly student progress. Weekly for “at-risk” students Parents sign a contract, Administration – creation Completed by current acknowledging they understand their of contract. families by end of 1st quarter responsibilities in WVL. This includes administrative expectations Student Learning New families must complete and educational responsibilities. Advocates (SLAs) – as part of enrollment in WVL ensuring contracts are (each spring/summer) completed Conn 4 Communication of parent Administration, SLAs Ongoing responsibilities in the WVL newsletter, emails, and phone contacts. This reinforces the expectations & responsibilities on the parent contract. WVL Newsletter continues to Administration - Begin in August, ongoing include housekeeping & coordinate (publish monthly). administrative information. Expand to recognize student Club advisors, Guidance achievements and bios for new staff Counselor, WVL Project members. Coordinator – provide Send copies to NOSD school board information to be and post on district website. included Communication to parents about Teachers Beginning of the year – course/teacher expectations and initial information. procedures. Ongoing – reminders and follow-up. Ensure WVL website and Tech Secretary (website) Ongoing announcements on Learning WVL Secretary (LMS) Management System (LMS) are current and updated weekly. WVL honor roll published in Guidance Counselor Each semester Ozaukee Press with other NOSD schools. Publish individual honor roll students in their local/regional papers. Also include in WVL newsletter. Recognize student achievements Administration – Ongoing, minimum of once (e.g. scholarships, passing AP coordinate per semester scores, NHS membership, etc.) Include in WVL newsletter, Ozaukee Guidance Counselor, AP Press, and school board reports Coordinator, NHS advisor – provide information Volunteering Create WVL Social Committee WVL Project Establish committee by end Includes: parent volunteers, WVL Coordinator of October Project Coordinator, 1 teacher representative per grade-level team Teachers – First events by the end of 1st Coordinate social events regularly representatives on Semester throughout the school year, for all committee and grade levels, in all regions of the supervising events state. Conn 5 Continue K-8 parent-run clubs and WVL Project Establish clubs by the end of groups, expand to 9-12. Coordinator – coordinate 1st Semester. For student special interests (e.g. & oversee photography, outdoors, etc.) Ongoing – create new clubs as interest arises. Recruit parent volunteers to assist Club advisors Ongoing with teacher-advised clubs (newspaper, student council, Assistance to advisors National Honor Society). from WVL project coordinator. Recruit parent volunteers to assist Administration, Ongoing with major WVL events – high Guidance Counselor, school graduation, 8th grade NHS advisor promotion, NHS induction, etc. Parent questionnaire to gauge areas SLAs End of 1st quarter of interest and expertise – education, employment, hobbies, etc. Information used to locate parent volunteers for events or guest speakers in classrooms Learning at Home Parent sessions at in-person SLAs Workshops held each workshops. quarter. Information and training for parents to help them better assist their students with academic topics. Decision Making Parent Advisory Council Administration Organize and hold first Representatives from parents in each meeting by end of September grade level team (K-5, 6-8, 9-12) Hold monthly meetings and every area of the state. One school board report per Advise and provide input to WVL semester. administration Report to the school board on parent issues and concerns. Collaborating with Community Develop WVL Open Houses to share WVL Project 2 Open Houses per year – the school with the NOSD Coordinator, early November & early community. Administration March Informal and/or formal Q&A sessions with WVL teachers and Hold in the evening after administration. staff professional Invite nearby WVL families & development days. students. Conn 6 Develop lessons that require student Teachers Ongoing investigation, research, and activity in their local community. Investigate and establish Administration – Ongoing partnerships with businesses and businesses higher education institutions (e.g. Guidance Counselor – Discovery World). higher ed. Assessment The assessment of the actions in this plan will be based on a number of criteria. SLAs have bi-weekly contact with families and can include discussions of parent involvement as part of those conversations at least once per quarter. This gives the opportunity for feedback from every WVL family. Online perception surveys would also be given as a way to gather feedback on specific initiatives. Discussions with staff can also gather information on their feelings about the cohesiveness of the new program compared to previous parent and community involvement efforts. Finally, discussions with the NOSD school board and community members as well as attendance at WVL events can be used to evaluate actions toward the NOSD community. The close relationship that is necessary between parents and WVL due to the nature of the online educational environment and this action plan takes the current variety of disconnected initiatives and centralizes their coordination. In addition, it includes actions that have previously been overlooked or lacking. A consistent plan also allows a formal evaluation to be achieved. As a result of the assessment and feedback, modifications will be made to the plan to improve efforts to involve parents and the community in student learning at WVL. Conn 7 References Epstein, J.L., Sanders, M.G., Sheldon, S.B., Simon, B.S., Salinas, K.C., Jansorn, N.R., …Williams, K.J. (2002). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Peterson, K.D. (1996). Developing successful parent involvement. Reform Talk, (Issue 3), Comprehensive Regional Assistance Center Consortium-Region VI.
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