Family Engagement: It’s the Law

As PTA members, we know how important family engagement is for student and school success. 

Did you know that family engagement is not just good practice? In California it’s the law! 

The California Department of Education’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) gives local school districts a lot of substantial power to make local decisions that affect their communities. Every local education authority (school district) in California has to submit a plan for how it will use the LCFF funding. 

Learn more about the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and the state’s required Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) here.

Part of your district’s LCAP includes a description of how the district engages families in decision-making and planning. In 2018, California PTA worked with other state Family Engagement partners to pass AB 2828, which requires school districts and charter schools to describe their family engagement strategies and outcomes in specific ways in their annual Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP).

What does this look like in your school district?

  • Does your district make every effort to seek parent input in making decisions for your school district and your school site? 
  • How does your district plan to increase participation for students with exceptional needs?
  • What is working and not working for your district?

Learn more about measuring and reporting family engagement at “Family Engagement: It’s the Law,” a Convention 2021 presentation, live Q&A and meet-up on May 12.

Next steps:

  1. Use the National PTA checklist to measure family engagement at your own school site;
  2. Check out the National Standards for family school partnerships to get ideas; 
  3. Attend your school site or district Local Control and Accountability Plan planning meetings;
  4. Find out if your district is using the California State Self-Reflection tool; and
  5. Ask your school and your district how they will engage all families in your community.

 

About Kari Gray: A San Francisco resident, public school parent, arts advocate and community engagement specialist, Kari Gray currently works as the Special Projects Manager at ODC/Dance and serves on the Boards of Youth Arts Exchange, the Second District of the California State PTA, and on the Family Engagement Commission and Art Committee for the California State PTA.

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ETS Update: Spring Assessments

This article was provided by our sponsor ETS. Read more about ETS here.

State tests are underway and like this school year when learning is  different—whether your child is in a school, learning at home, or both—the tests are also different.

We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted sudden school closures has created a very challenging learning environment not only for students, but also for parents and teachers. We applaud the hard work, sacrifices and efforts made by families and teachers to help ensure that students continue to learn and progress in their academic career. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 closures have caused learning gaps, which is why it is more important than ever to measure student learning to understand the impact the pandemic and the different learning environments have had on students.

This year, districts have the option to give the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) either remotely or in person. The English language arts and mathematics test are shorter than in previous years to decrease stress on students and time it takes away from valuable instruction. School districts will also have more time to administer the assessments. The results of the tests are going to be used for learning only. They will not be used to rate schools but to help identify where leaning loss has occurred and provide the state, teachers, and parents with this very important data to help make decisions on how to best help student catch up.

All the test subjects, in addition to ELA and math, administered under CAASPP are available this year as well as the tests administered to English learners. Most of these tests are available remotely or in person. However, if your child qualifies for the alternate assessments, these tests will need to be given in person because these tests require one-on-one administration with students so they can better demonstrate what they know and can do.

Below is a list of available tests, who takes them, how they are administered, and timeline. Check with your child’s teacher for more information about your child’s testing schedule and which tests they need to take. Parents can also visit the CAASPP/ELPAC website for more information, including instructions and videos on how to prepare for testing at home and practice tests.

Smarter Balanced English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics (shortened version)

Results for this test will only be used to get information on how to help students.

  • Who takes the test: All students from grades 3-8 and 11 except students participating in the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) for ELA and mathematics and ELA only for English learners in U.S. schools less than 12 months.
  • How it’s administered: In-person or remote, depending on school district.
  • Testing period: February – July
  • When parents can expect their child’s score report: July 2021

California Alternate Assessments (CAA) in English language arts and mathematics

Results for this test will only be used to get information on how to help students.

  • Who takes the test: Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities whose active individualized education program (IEP) designates the use of an alternate assessment
  • How it’s administered: In-person only
  • Testing period: January – July
  • When parents can expect their child’s score report: September 2021

California Science Test (CAST)

Results for this test will only be used to get information on how to help students.

  • Who takes the test: All students in grades 5 and 8, and once anytime in high school, except eligible students participating in the CAA for Science
  • How it’s administered: In-person or remote, depending on school district
  • Testing period: January – July
  • When parents can expect their child’s score report: July 2021

California Alternate Assessments in Science

Results for this test will only be used to get information on how to help students.

  • Who takes the test: Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities whose active IEP designates the use of an alternate assessment, for grades 5 and 8, and once anytime in high school
  • How it’s administered: In-person only
  • Testing period: September – July
  • When parents can expect their child’s score report: TBD

English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC) (Initial and Summative)

Results of this test are used to identify English learners and to reclassify EL status

Initial ELPAC Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing

  • Who takes the test: K-12 students whose primary language is not English as indicated on the Home Language Survey; administered within 30 calendar days of enrollment
  • How it’s administered: In-person or remote
  • Testing period: All year
  • When parents can expect their child’s score report: As soon as the student takes the test

*Summative ELPAC Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing

  • Who takes the test: K-12 students who have been identified as English learners and participate annually until reclassified fluent English proficient
  • How it’s administered: In-person or remote
  • Testing period: February – July
  • When parents can expect their child’s score report: June 2021

 *Students who took a locally administered alternate assessment of English proficiency will continue to receive a Summative ELPAC student score report.

California Spanish Assessment

This is an optional test for native English-speaking students who want to demonstrate proficiency in Spanish language.

  • Who takes the test: All students in grades 3-8 and high school who want to demonstrate Spanish reading and language arts
  • How it’s administered: In-person or remote
  • Testing period: January – July

When parents can expect their child’s score report: September 2021

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What’s Happening in PTA? May 2021 Edition

Please find below a listing of California State PTA’s May training and advocacy opportunities for our leaders and members. We hope you will join us for some of these offerings:

May 3-16 Convention 2021 Join hundreds of fellow PTA members and leaders for the 122nd Annual California State PTA Convention! The Business of the Association starts May 13. Click here to register.
May 6 Social Media Kit Reveal
8:00 p.m.
Join the Communications Team as they reveal the May kit themed “Mental Health Awareness Month.”
May 18 DEI Virtual Office Hours
7:00-8:00 p.m.
Looking for guidance about how to begin a DEI committee at your unit, council, or district? Seeking feedback or ideas about how to make a prospective program or event as inclusive as possible? Wondering what PTA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion trainings, presentations, and resources are available, and how to access them? You can get answers to those questions and more by signing up for a slot during the DEI committee’s weekly virtual office hour, where you can speak directly with a California State PTA DEI committee member. Click here to make an appointment.
May 17-18 BOM Applications Deadline Apply to serve on the Board of Managers (BOM) for the 2021-23 term! Online applications must be submitted by May 18, 2021, and paper applications must be postmarked by May 17, 2021Click here for application forms and more information.
Tuesday, May 25 Leadership Monthly Webinar
7:00-8:30 p.m.
Join Vice President of Leadership Maria Steck and the Leadership Commission as they help you navigate ways to end your PTA term successfully. Click here to register: https://forms.gle/XPdWDKbZDGEVNecG9

 

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Staying Connected with PTA Families in a Virtual World

How do we keep everyone connected when we can’t meet in person? The same way we did before: by communicating clearly and frequently, by hosting a variety of social and learning activities, and by building authentic relationships.

Clear and frequent communication

Every year, PTA works with school staff to establish communication processes and tools. This year, with all the changes and updates, it is even more important to reach every single person in our communities.

We need to ask:

  • How are people coping?
  • What do they need?
  • What is the best way to connect?

Effective family engagement includes all families and caregivers. To reach all families, it is vital to share information in a variety of ways: PTA and school district websites and newsletters, email, text, social media posts, and even with paper flyers and newsletters sent by mail.

Recognizing the need for a whole new way to create engagement and community, the PTA in San Francisco started “4-1-1 Wednesday” virtual gatherings for all San Francisco families. They could join by phone or computer. Topics centered on how to support families and parent groups: fundraising brainstorming, mental health and wellness strategies, and tips on creating an inclusive community. 4-1-1 Wednesdays also feature Town Halls with the District Superintendent and Department of Public Health.

These citywide meetings give parents and caregivers the opportunity to learn from each other and strengthen the entire school district community.

Share your own strategies for communicating with your community during Convention 2021 at our Family Engagement Meet-up on Tuesday, May 11 at 4:00 p.m.

About Kari Gray: A San Francisco resident, public school parent, arts advocate and community engagement specialist, Kari Gray currently works as the Special Projects Manager at ODC/Dance and serves on the Boards of Youth Arts Exchange, the Second District of the California State PTA, and on the Family Engagement Commission and Art Committee for the California State PTA.

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Are you feeling engaged with your school site?

Family Engagement is at the heart of what we do in PTA — but do you feel like you are running out of ideas for good programming? The Family Engagement Commission is hosting a workshop that will help you with just that at our 122nd Annual Convention. This is a great chance to hear about great practices from across the state and to share what you have done at your school with others.

Title of Presentation: Are you feeling engaged with your school site?

Brief Description: An opportunity to hear from Lisa Borrego, who works for the California Department of Education about various Family Engagement programs from different school districts across California. It will be an interactive workshop with lots of discussion and idea-sharing in the Q & As.

Three Takeaways:

  • Will have a better understanding of Family Engagement across California
  • To have insight of what is Authentic Family Engagement.
  • How to implement best practices at your school site.

Presenters: Lisa Borrego, CDE; Deborah Johnson, California State PTA Family Engagement Commission Vice-President; Nha-Nghi Nguyen, California State PTA Family Engagement Commission Vice-Chair

If you haven’t already, click here to register for Convention 2021.

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Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills For Stress Resilience

The Family Engagement Commission is excited to share a little teaser about its upcoming Convention workshop. You won’t want to miss the showing of the documentary “Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER,” as well as the discussion that happens afterward!

Title of Presentation: Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills For Stress Resilience

Brief Description: An opportunity to examine the science behind teens’ emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and most importantly, what can be done in our schools and homes to help them build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age. It will be a workshop with lots of discussion in the Q & As.

Three Takeaways:

  • Will have a better understanding of teens’ social and emotional challenges
  • To have insight of can be done in our schools and homes to help build crucial skills to navigate social and emotional challenges.
  • How the interplay of social media impacts the social and emotional challenges.

Presenters: Lisa Tabb, Co-Producer “Screenagers” and “Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Undercovering Skills For Stress Resilience”; Deborah Johnson, California State PTA Family Engagement Commission Vice-President; Nha-Nghi Nguyen, California State PTA Family Engagement Commission Vice-Chair

If you haven’t already, click here to register for Convention 2021.

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It’s Time for a Renewed Focus on the Old LCAP

This article was written by Kathleen Fay, member of the California State PTA Legislation Team.

A school district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) is an important tool that requires a district to identify goals, address priorities, allocate funds, implement actions, provide services, and measure results to improve student outcomes. The annual LCAP review should provide opportunities for robust parent involvement as a fundamental part of the planning process.  However, this LCAP process was turned on its head last year with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quarantines and school closures necessitated changes in the usual LCAP planning process. First, an Executive Order extended LCAP deadlines, then legislation eliminated the annual LCAP update altogether. Taking its place was the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan – by no coincidence also abbreviated as LCAP – to be used as a planning tool to address issues of distance learning, live student interactions, and attendance. The “new LCAP” included strategies to ensure a full curriculum, train staff, and address resources and technical support during the crisis. And it was all to have been put together with parent input and reported publicly.

As California now looks (hopefully) towards a post-pandemic school year, districts must return to the original LCAP model to examine how students were supported throughout the pandemic, what was done to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and consider the effects of issues such as pupil learning loss; student and staff mental health and social-emotional well-being; pupil engagement and outreach; nutrition; learning continuity; attendance; infrastructure needs; and any ongoing response to COVID-19.

In short, it’s time for school districts to take an honest look at the results of the last year and then make practical plans on how to repair any damage. This is something that PTAs should strongly encourage members to take part in – through multiple public input opportunities. These meetings should be open to input from all parents and community members. It is up to us to speak for every child with one voice.

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School Reopening Advocacy: What Can Your PTA Do?

This article was written by Shereen Walter, California State PTA’s Director of Legislation.

Now that the Governor and Legislature have come to agreement on the details surrounding the $2 billion to incentivize schools to reopen for in person learning, what can you as a PTA do?

First of all, remember that your PTA represents ALL parents – those who want their kids to return to school, those who are more cautious and those who are not ready for their children to return to school full time. You need to be speaking for “Every Child, One Voice.”

Stick to the PTA talking points outlined in the two California State PTA documents:

Some of the issues surrounding school reopening that you can advocate for are:

  • Parent Communication and Input – School Districts must prioritize strong two-way communication with parents as they prepare and execute reopening plans. The voices of parents representing the diversity of the community need to be included in decision making.
  • In-Person Attendance – Parents should be able to choose whether their child returns to school in-person depending on the health of the child and their family situation.
  • Mental Health Is Important – Schools must provide adequate resources to meet the mental health needs of students and staff to support their individual needs.
  • Expanded Learning and Learning Loss – Parents should be providing input into the types of programs needed to address learning loss and that also meet the social emotional needs of the whole child. School districts are developing their plans now to address learning loss caused by the pandemic, including after-school, summer, and child-care programs.
  • Realistic Timeline – Schools need to open as soon as practically possible while protecting the health and well-being of students, staff and families.
  • Technology Access – All students who continue on a hybrid or distance learning model need to have appropriate Wi-Fi and a computer or laptop so that they can adequately access remote learning.

…and now for a few cautions.

  1. Offer quotes to the media in writing. This prevents you being quoted out of context, incorrectly, or from accidentally stating your personal opinion rather than the stance of PTA.
  2. Stick to PTA talking points on the social media accounts of PTA.
  3. Opinion pieces can only be written with the approval of your executive board and must contain only PTA positions.
  4. PTA leaders can not use their PTA title or affiliation in speaking in opposition to a PTA position.

Last of all, PTA must remain neutral in a dispute arising from school employer-employee negotiations. For more detailed information, see this webpage.

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Book Club Discussion: “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo

Our Legislation Team decided that a book club would be a good way to begin discussions around race, equity, inclusion and justice. They created a list of books dealing with these topics and began to read down the list. To read more about this process, please read our previous blog post about the book club.

Today we are going to share the resources and study questions from the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. In this book DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

The primary goal for white people working to understand racism is not to learn how racism impacts people of color. The primary goal is to recognize how the system of racism shapes our lives, how we uphold that system, and how we might interrupt it.

Definitions:

Prejudice is prejudgment about another person based on the social groups to which that person belongs.

Discrimination is action based on prejudice.

When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism, a far-reaching system that functions independently from the intention or self-image of individual actors. Racism is a structure, not an event.

Questions for Discussion:

1. “We are taught to think about racism only as discrete acts committed by individual people, rather than as a complex, interconnected system.”
“Only bad people who intended to hurt others because of race could ever do so….any suggestion that we are complicit in racism is a kind of unwelcome and insulting shock to the system.”

“Our simplistic definition of racism – as intentional acts of racial discrimination committed by immoral individuals – engenders a confidence that we are not part of the problem and that our learning is thus complete.”

“Racism goes beyond individual intentions to collective group patterns.”

“If I understand racism as a system into which I was socialized, I can receive feedback on my problematic racial patterns as a helpful way to support my learning and growth.”

How can we use this definition of racism as a systemic structure, and not acts of individuals to create awareness and acknowledgement that racism exists and how we might work to interrupt it?

2. DiAngelo suggests that one of the most effective barriers to talking about racism with white people is the good/bad binary. How have you seen this binary underlying common white responses to charges of racism? How might you respond when the binary surfaces in discussions about racism?

3. “Most of us can acknowledge that we do feel some unease around certain groups of people, if only a heightened sense of self-consciousness. But this feeling doesn’t come naturally. Our unease comes from living separate from a group of people while simultaneously absorbing incomplete or erroneous information about them.”

What can be done to change this?

4. “While implicit bias is always at play because all humans have bias, inequity can occur simply through homogeneity; if I am not aware of the barriers you face, then I won’t see them, much less be motivated to remove them. Nor will I be motivated to remove the barriers if they provide an advantage to which I feel entitled.”

“To understand race relations today, we must push against our conditioning and grapple with how and why racial group membership matters.”

How do you see these statements applying to PTA?

5. If we accept that racism is always operating, the question becomes not “Is racism taking place?” but rather “How is racism taking place in this specific context?” How does awareness of that change how we think about our lives and our actions?”

6. “Individualism claims that there are no intrinsic barriers to individual success and that failure is not a consequence of social structures but comes from individual character.”

Does this perception play into societies misunderstandings about affirmative action and why affirmative action programs haven’t changed our racial outcomes? How can we work as individuals or as PTA to change this world view?

7. “The metaphor of the United States as the great melting pot, in which immigrants from around the world came together and melt into one unified society through the process of assimilation, is a cherished idea. Once new immigrants learn English and adapt to American culture and customs, they become Americans. In reality, only European immigrants were allowed to melt. regardless of their ethnic identities, these immigrants were perceived to be white and thus could belong.”

Why is the idea that the U.S. is a “melting pot” problematic?

8. Anti-blackness – the ultimate racial “other”!

  • Kidnapping & 300 years of enslavement
  • Torture rape and brutality
  • Medical Experimentation
  • Share cropping
  • Bans against testifying against whites
  • Mandatory segregation
  • Bans on black jury service & voting
  • Lynching and mob violence
  • Imprisoning people for unpaid work
  • Bans on interracial marriage
  • Redlining
  • Employment discrimination
  • Educational discrimination
  • Biased laws and policing practices
  • White Flight
  • Subprime mortgages
  • Mass incarceration
  • School to prison pipeline
  • Disproportionate special ed referrals and punishments
  • Testing, tracking, school funding
  • Biased media representation

It’s a system, not an event

The concept of anti-Blackness pushes back against the idea that all ethnic minorities have the same lived experiences and can be shoved under a singular umbrella” Simply put: All People of Color (POC) do not face the same gravity of harm. The sooner we recognize the extreme barriers facing Black POC, the sooner we can address the anti-Black narrative and policies that are disproportionately killing them.

Thoughts on this? Were times tough for your immigrant ancestors? If so, in what ways does DiAngelo say this is still not the same as being Black in the U.S.?

9. As I move through my daily life, my race is unremarkable. My presence is not questioned. I belong. Try to identify at least 3 ways white racial belonging has been conveyed to you in the last week.

Once we have been made conscious of what has always been all around us – the consistent reinforcement of white superiority/privilege – what are the options you can generate in your life to challenge and dismantle this historical and dominant view system?

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March 31st is National Crayon Day

Take some time with the family today to celebrate both National Crayon Day and the end of Arts Education Month. Our Communications Commission created these coloring sheets that highlight PTA’s advocacy efforts over the years — enjoy coloring them with the family or your PTA unit.

              
PDF version                         PDF version                  PDF version                  PDF version                 PDF version                PDF version

 

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