No Child Left behind and the Reduction of the Achievement Gap: Sociological Perspectives on Federal Educational Policy

By Alan R. Sadovnik; Jennifer A. O’Day et al. | Go to book overview

14
Getting Families Involved with NCLB
Factors Affecting Schools’ Enactment of Federal Policy1

Steven B. Sheldon

Current federal education policy, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, seeks to raise overall student achievement and reduce the disparity in school achievement between white and minority students. To accomplish these goals, NCLB proposes a wide range of mechanisms including regular standardized testing of students, ensuring the presence of high-quality teachers in classrooms, and increasing parental involvement in students’ education. The aspect of NCLB that mandates that schools set up processes to include more families in their children’s education has remained largely ignored in most discussions about the efficacy of this legislation.

Title I, Sec. 1118 of NCLB requires schools that receive funds for serving students from low-income families to implement activities that help foster greater family and community involvement. Schools are required to create policies stating that family and community involvement are valued goals at the school, include families on school decision- and policy-making committees, provide information to parents to help them understand academic content and achievement standards, train educators in how to reach out to parents and implement programs connecting children’s home and school, and communicate in languages and at reading levels accessible to all families. In addition, NCLB encourages schools to develop partnerships with community-based organizations and businesses in order to help all students learn and achieve in school.

Inclusion of family involvement is a valuable component of efforts to improve student achievement. Studies on family involvement have concluded that students’ home environments and family involvement are important predictors of a variety of academic and nonacademic outcomes (Henderson and Mapp 2002;

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