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The Classical Academy: Parent Involvement Program « Center on Educational Governance (CEG)

The Classical Academy: Parent Involvement Program

Practice Area: Parent Involvement

The Classical Academy:
Parent Involvement Program

The Classical Academy

Escondido, California
Founded 1999
Start-up
660 students
Grades K-8
Site-based
73% White, 11% Hispanic, 4% Asian, .9% African-American, Other 11%
0% English language learners
0% Special needs
0% Receive subsidized meals
Teachers not part of collective bargaining unit

http://www.classicalacademy.com

Source: Center on Educational Governance, 2006.

Blending traditional school with home schooling, The Classical Academy partners with parents to build better relationships among the students, their families, staff and the community.
Parents of the kindergarten through
eighth grade student body serve as teachers, volunteers and school leaders.

Students pursue one of two educational paths: the blended study model, which combines two classroom days with three home-schooled days, and the independent study model, where full-time home-schooling is supplemented by school electives from sports to science, field trips to performing arts. Both require considerable instruction time from parents.

TCA’s principal credits the program’s indicators of success – sustained student achievement on standardized tests and favorable parent approval ratings – to parental commitment. In 2003-2004, 95 percent of parents volunteered at the school; 90 percent met or exceeded the school’s minimum annual service requirement of 25 hours.

Implementation

The Parent Involvement Program has three components: teaching, volunteering and leadership.

At TCA, parents are considered to be the primary educators of their children, and are given many opportunities for training, from “coffee chats” to elective classes to monthly communication with a credentialed teacher.

Parents fulfill their 25 annual volunteer hours in numerous capacities: librarian, sports coach, field trip coordinator, art instructor, tutor, physical plant worker and many others. A parent volunteer coordinator (an employee) and her assistant (a volunteer) match parents’ talents to the school’s needs. Parents who volunteer for 50-plus hours are honored at a banquet.

Parents also serve on the board of directors, administration, faculty and staff in leadership roles. They provide sought-after feedback about the quality of the educational programs.

Requirements Of Parent Involvement Program

Budget items include the salary of the parent volunteer coordinator (about $28,000) and a $5,000 allocation to fund recognition of parent volunteers. The parent coordinator’s office, located in a building TCA owns, includes a computer, land-line and cellular telephones.

Lessons Learned

The level of parental involvement and feedback has led to quicker improvements and changes in curriculum and other educational materials.

The creation of the parent volunteer coordinator job proved necessary at TCA, as did the volunteer assistant position soon after.

The greatest challenge, according to the parent volunteer coordinator, is relying on parents who may not follow through. She has learned always to enlist more volunteers for each task than she actually needs and has also launched incentive programs.

As time is an issue for both working parents and full-time home-schooling parents, the definition of volunteering has stretched to include projects that can be completed at home or during the summer months.

Conclusion

TCA’s heightened level of parental involvement has led to sustained improvement on standardized tests. The school’s Academic Performance Index (API) grew from 757 to 829 in its second year of operation, and has remained above 800 for the past four years while enrollment has steadily increased. Parental approval ratings have remained favorable for three years.

However, TCA is dedicated to a holistic educational experience, placing importance on the behavior observed in students: kindness, relative maturity and mutual respect. The level of personal attention permits students to learn different subjects at a personalized pace, and reduced classroom time allows for greater community service and opportunities for external learning and growth.

Address

Center on Educational Governance
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
3470 Trousdale Parkway
Waite Phillips Hall, Room 901
Los Angeles, CA 90089-4039

Phone: (213) 740-0697
Fax: (213) 740-4184
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