Including family engagement in LCAP development
California set the bar higher than any other state in the nation when it established parent involvement as one of the state priorities that school districts, county offices of education and charter schools must address in their Local Control and Accountability Plan.
Family involvement is one of the state priorities that school districts, county offices of education and charter schools must address in their Local Control and Accountability Plan. While this emphasis is crucial, the path to creating authentic and meaningful partnerships is not always clear.

“Our interaction with board members indicates that boards are eager to embrace family engagement, not just as a compliance issue but as a critical lever to strengthen schools and improve student achievement. For this reason, helping boards encourage authentic family and community engagement in the LCAP process has been an important focus of CSBA’s work since the inception of LCFF,” said CSBA Director of Policy & Programs Julie Maxwell-Jolly. “We understand that a key board member role is to represent and communicate with the parents and families in their communities, so our briefs often include questions that help board members understand and include the perspectives of parents and families in their decisions about a whole range of topics we address.”

Recent amendments to state law through Assembly Bill 2878 support school boards in this effort by expanding the parent involvement state priority to include family engagement. Under the LCAP, this must be adopted by July 1, 2019. Districts and COEs are encouraged to communicate the new requirement in a timely manner to appropriate staff and advisory groups to ensure its inclusion in the LCAP and enhance year-round efforts toward family engagement. It is recommended that board policies and administrative regulations be revised to reflect this requirement and other new laws that will impact the LCAP development process, as provided in CSBA’s updated sample BP/AR 0460 – Local Control and Accountability Plan.

Under the amended law, family engagement may include, but is not limited to, efforts by the district, county office of education and schools to apply research-based practices, such as welcoming all families into the school community, engaging in effective two-way communication, supporting student success, and empowering families to advocate for equity and access. It may also include partnering with families to inform, influence and create practices and programs that support student success and collaboration with families and the broader community, expand student learning opportunities and promote civic participation.

Maxwell-Jolly noted that participants in CSBA’s Equity Network, its professional learning networks and its LCFF collaborative working group recommend using the LCAP as a tool to increase the familiarity of parents from all language and cultural backgrounds with the school district and its mission, values and goals. These professional development opportunities also encourage two-way communication between the district and parents, so stakeholder input can help identify opportunities for improvement and allow the community to support the LCAP design and accountability process.

“We’ve conducted two, large-scale surveys of what board members think and are experiencing with regard to LCAP engagement in their local areas, held sessions at our annual conference devoted to this topic and ensured that is a strong focus of all of our board member networks,” Maxwell-Jolly explained. “While the learning that is shared in the networks is important for these groups and their LEAs, it has the wider aim and longer-term goal of informing the professional learning that CSBA offers board members across the state. One of the first modules that CSBA will offer through its new online learning center which debuts in 2019 focuses on authentic parent and family engagement in the LCAP process, as does a series of video interviews on this topic also scheduled for release in 2019.”

Many of the lessons offered in CSBA’s LCAP resources are echoed by The PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships suggests the following strategies for building partnerships:

  • Outreach in multiple languages
  • Outreach to parents and families that are traditionally underrepresented in the school, school district or COE
  • Outreach strategies that are diverse and innovative

As districts and COEs develop family engagement goals and actions for their LCAP, they are encouraged to review their existing policies on parent involvement and update them as necessary to ensure consistency and alignment. Federal law mandates that any district receiving Title I, Part A, funds has a written policy on parent and family engagement which is developed jointly with and agreed upon by parents/guardians and family members of participating students. State law mandates districts to adopt a similar policy applicable to each school that does not receive Title I funds. CSBA’s BP/AR 6020 – Parent Involvement reflects these requirements, describes mandated policy components, and presents optional strategies addressing each component.

In addition, as LEAs expand their LCAP goals to include family engagement, they need to consider appropriate indicators that will be used to evaluate whether these goals have been met, as such local indicators are annually reported in the California School Dashboard.

“Ongoing authentic and meaningful parent and family engagement is a key ingredient to a successful LCAP as well as a well-functioning and attentive district. Relying on research-based strategies which are then tailored to uniquely suit the district will result in a richer, more meaningful process and outcome that ultimately will better serve students,” said Barbara Laifman, CSBA Policy Manual Consultant and board member for Oak Park Unified School District.

Additional Resources
National PTA, PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships:

California Department of Education, Family Engagement Framework: A Tool for California School Districts (available in English and Spanish):

U.S. Department of Education, Parental Involvement: Title I, Part A, Non-Regulatory Guidance: