The administration of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools recognizes the value and importance of meaningful family engagement at the school and district level.  We define family engagement as collaboration between families and educators that accelerates student learning.  Collaboration includes building and nurturing trusting relationships, academic partnering, and on-going communication between educators and families.  MNPS believes that family engagement is an essential part of a school system that delivers a great public education to every student, every day.   Through family engagement, we help prepare life-long learners for college, career, and life by engaging, empowering, and educating all our families to play five critical roles in the education of their children:

·      Communicating high expectations

·      Monitoring their child’s performance

·      Supporting learning at home and at school

·      Guiding their child’s education

·      Advocating for their child

The term “family” as used in this policy is inclusive of all adults who interact with the school system in support of their child, to include biological, adoptive, and foster parents; step-parents; grandparents; legal and informal guardians; and adult siblings.  Engaging all families is crucial to student success; this includes, but is not limited to, families who are economically disadvantaged, speak a language other than English at home, have literacy needs, have disabilities, are of any racial or ethnic background, are of any gender identity or sexual orientation, are homeless, or are families of immigrant, refugee, or migrant children.

This policy was developed jointly with and distributed to stakeholders in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. As such, the MNPS family engagement policy includes input from families, community members, and school and district personnel in compliance with all pertinent mandates of state and federal regulatory standards as the following:

 

The district and all school sites will work in collaboration with families to actively support and enhance family engagement and establish equity by:

·      Fostering a welcoming, respectful, and responsive environment for families

·      Valuing diversity and promoting culturally responsive participation within district-wide and individual school communities

·      Respecting families as equal partners in the education of their children and honoring their role as first and life-long teachers

·      Building the capacity of families to understand the educational process and their role in supporting student success as partners in their child’s education

·      Building the capacity of staff to enhance family engagement practices at the district and school level

·      Setting high expectations of quality services for our school community

·      Ensuring accessible programming, curriculum, resources, and services and removing obstacles to family participation

·      Consulting with and encouraging families to have a voice in school and district planning through participation in school and district committees and/or groups and removing barriers to participation

·      Ensuring accountability of all staff in working with families to build relationships, partner academically, and provide on-going communication

·      Establishing avenues of two-way communication in order to keep families informed, elevate family voice, promote transparency, and build trust

·      Informing families of opportunities within the district, including, but not limited to, information on open enrollment, choice programs, and charter options

·      Valuing, developing, and maintaining partnerships with public and private entities in the Nashville community

 

The district will provide coordination, technical assistance, and other support necessary to assist schools in building the capacity for strong family engagement to accelerate student success.  This coordination, assistance, and support will include, but is not limited to:

·      Adoption of district framework and standards for improving family engagement at the school level, such as the Dual Capacity-Building Framework and the Tennessee Parental Involvement Standards

·      Resources for district staff, school staff, and families, including but not limited to:

o   Designating district support for family development and capacity building

§  State academic and content standards

§  State and local assessments

§  Individual student, school, and district data measuring growth and achievement

§  Academic and behavior interventions and accommodations aligned to student needs

§  Social and Emotional Learning

§  English language learners

§  Supporting and monitoring student learning

§  Parental rights under ESSA and IDEA (Every Student Succeeds Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

§  Leadership development

§  School Choice options

§  Pre-K/Head Start options

§  Advanced Academics

§  Adult and community education programs

o   Designating district support for materials and capacity building for staff to help families work with students to improve student achievement, including but not limited to

§  Sharing individual student, school, and district data

§  Relationship building

§  Academic partnering

§  Working with interpreters and translators

§  Academic and behavior interventions and accommodations aligned to student needs

§  Equity and access

§  On-going communication

o   Providing assistance to families through the Family Information Center to ensure that families are given an opportunity to call an information hotline to request information, assistance, or voice a concern or complaint; Family Information Center staff shall function as an advocate in resolving the matter or securing the requested information in a timely manner (615-259-4636)

o   Encouraging and supporting the development and expansion of active School Support Organizations

·      Integration, to the extent feasible and appropriate, of family engagement programs and activities with other community programs and partnerships that encourage and support families in more fully participating in the education of their students. 

 

At all school sites, principals, teachers, and all school staff will work in collaboration with families to support and enhance family engagement and establish equity by:

·       Valuing diversity and equity in each child’s learning and recognizing students’ individual learning styles, strengths, academic, and personal needs

·       Establishing and communicating grade-specific expectations and providing frequent updates on student academic and behavioral progress including successes, challenges, and growth towards goals

·       Facilitating Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings as frequently as necessary or requested by anyone on the IEP team for students with disabilities (SWDs)

Schools, including Title I schools, will offer opportunities and remove barriers for families to partner in the school and in student learning through volunteering, decision-making, and collaboration.  This coordination, assistance, and support could include, but is not limited to:

·      Creation of an effective volunteer and engagement program developed collaboratively with families

·      Family representation on the School Improvement Plan leadership team

·      Building and maintaining a School Support Organization, i.e. PTO, PTA, Parent Advisory Committee, Parent Support Group

 

Families are encouraged to be engaged in their children’s learning and education by:

·       Offering support as full partners in the education of their children

·       Communicating regularly with school staff regarding the instruction, intervention, achievement, behavior, and the needs of their children

·       Valuing diversity and promoting culturally responsive participation within the school community

·       Participating in school and district learning opportunities

·       Engaging in the development, review, and evaluation of family engagement plans

·       Seeking opportunities to provide input and recommendations as partners on school and district committees

·       Assisting the school in identifying and addressing barriers to family engagement

·       Understanding and following district and school policies and procedures

Accessibility

The district and all individual school sites will ensure the accessibility of family engagement activities by:

·      Providing interpretation and translation services for oral and written communications for families of non-English language background or with limited English proficiency to the extent feasible

·      Holding meetings, conferences, and workshops with families at different times, dates, and locations throughout the school year to accommodate families’ schedules. Invitations for such opportunities shall be provided in an understandable language and shall be sent in a timely manner

·      Utilizing a variety of communication methods including in person, written, recorded messages, webinars, Family Portal, and social media

·      Locating family engagement activities at both school sites and community sites in areas that are easily accessible

·      Providing transportation and child care for family engagement activities to the extent feasible

·      Providing family engagement activities with no cost or very little cost to participate

·      Providing opportunities at which no person is excluded based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, language, ability, or age