No Child Left Behind Toolkit

October 8, 2004

As public school parents and guardians, many of have a vision of what schools could be. In this vision, schools are caring communities where children are valued and challenged and parents are seen as true partners, from the level of their own children?s education to the process of making important decisions about the school. For some of us, the reality is not far from this vision. But to others, the school doors are closed. These schools can be places of frustration and failure not only for children, but also for their parents. With the advent of the key federal education law known as "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB), parents -- and schools -- have a chance to start over. In answer to parents? desire for more responsive schools, NCLB builds on and strengthens parent involvement provisions from an earlier version of the law, and adds new requirements for schools and districts. For example, schools must include parents in creating and carrying out school improvement plans. Schools must report information to parents, about their children and about the school. In some schools, parents must be offered new options, such as the choice to transfer their children to another school or to obtain free tutoring for them. And for the first time, "parent involvement" is defined, as "regular, two-way, meaningful communication" between parents and schools. The Pittsburgh Council on Public Education, a local education fund, created a Toolkit to help parents make the most of these opportunities. Some of the "tools" are intended to help you help children, while others are designed to support you as a partner in improving your school. One frequent criticism of NCLB is that it focuses on testing, rather than on resources and practices that have been shown to increase student achievement.