Family engagement is a critical component in creating an empowered culture within schools and is a key aspect of VTSS. For this reason, schools must make a concerted effort to involve families as early and as often as possible.
Requirements for family engagement are found in almost every federal and state education statute and regulation. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 defines parent involvement as “the participation of parents in regular, two-way and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring that parents play an integral role in assisting the child’s learning.” The 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ensures parents have the opportunity to be members of any decision-making team for their child. The Virginia Board of Education recognized the importance of family engagement.
The PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships focus on what families, schools and communities can do together to support positive student outcomes. Each of the six standards includes quality indicators for successful partnerships. The standards are available on the National PTA website. Additional information on family engagement is available at the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center.
Within the VTSS framework, an empowering culture is a key component that supports the effective instruction of students. Families should be involved from the beginning as a school creates an empowering culture to support implementation of VTSS. Families need information on how data for VTSS will be collected, how it will be used and what supports will be provided to their child. The supports provided through VTSS do not replace a parent’s right to request assessment of their child for special education or any other entitlement services offered by the school.