Plan for Parent and Community Involvement
Eric M. Conn
Dr. Kent Peterson
5 August 2010
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
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
partnership. The plan follows the framework by Joyce Epstein et al. (2002) to categorize the
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
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
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
“How to” document
completed by November.
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)
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).
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
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
Publish individual honor roll
students in their local/regional
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
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
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
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
Information and training for parents
to help them better assist their
students with academic topics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.