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>> And welcome. My name is Kim Jenkins. I'm a PaTTAN consultant from the King of Prussia office. Linda Cartwright, one of our parent consultants, is also on the webinar today.
Today is the fifth session in the Family Engagement LEA to LEA webinar series. Today's session is entitled, "School's Efforts to Partner with Families." I'm excited about today's topic, and hope you
will find it informational. The session is being recorded, and will be available on the Family Engagement webpage of the PaTTAN website. If at any time during this presentation you have any questions
for our presenters, please type your question in the Chat box.
Joining us today is Kristen Rawlings from the Wissahickon School District, and Joanna Wexler, Trisha Beck and Amanda Haskell from the Great Valley School District. They will be showcasing what their
schools are currently doing to support family engagement and student learning. PaTTAN supports the efforts and initiatives of the Bureau of Special Education and local education agencies. PaTTAN's
purpose is to build capacity of the LEAs to serve students who receive Special Education services. The intent of today's webinar is to share information with LEAs regarding how our feature schools
partner with families, and providing families with opportunities to become partners in their children's learning. This takes the commitment of both the educators and families.
This slide states our commitment to the least restrictive environment. IEP teams must begin with a general education setting, with the use of supplementary aids and services before considering a more
restrictive environment for a student.
This session is the fifth in the 2015-2016 LEA to LEA webinar series. Previous sessions are available on the Family Engagement Initiative page of the PaTTAN website, and that website is
www.PaTTAN.net. You will find this year's series as well as previous years' webinar series.
It is my pleasure to introduce our first presenter of this session, Kristen Rawlings from the Wissahickon School District.
>> Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be joining you on this webinar. First, I'll share a little bit of information about the Wissahickon School District. Wissahickon is located in Ambler. We serve
nearly 4500 students in Lower Gwynedd, Whitpain and Ambler townships, which is in Montgomery County. We have four elementary schools, one middle school, a high school with approximately eight hundred
employees. Our student population is 19 percent economically disadvantaged, 17 percent Special Education, two percent ELL. And our mascot is the Trojans.
In the 2014-'15 school year, the school board requested that the administration conduct a communications survey to address concerns they had heard from parents and the community. The survey revealed a
strong need for a more organized communication effort. Specifically, families said they wanted more information about all school-related matters on a more frequent basis. Families indicated they
wanted more news about student and staff achievements; they wanted to see more photos of learning in action. They wanted better access to event and activity information, and better information about
important district initiatives and goals. The survey also told us how families wanted to receive news; the majority selecting weekly or monthly; and it told us how they prefer to receive the news. In
order of preference, parents told us they like email, text, phone calls, website, social media and traditional media -- meaning newspaper, radio and TV. As a result of the need for better
communications, the school district decided to hire a Communications coordinator, which is my position. I managed the responsibilities and developed a plan that would effectively provide all parents
the information that they want and need, using their preferred tools. We call this plan "differentiated communications."
School Messenger is a critical communication tool, one of many different products used by school districts to globally connect with their families via email, text and phone, which were the top three
ways our families indicated they wanted to be contacted. So at the beginning of the school year, we launched an initiative to have all Wissahickon families update their preferred contact information
so that we could communicate with them via School Messenger. We made it clear that that would be the primary source of information. Parents can update their contact information anytime throughout the
year so it's always current, and we use it weekly to send all types of messages; from snow delays to a notice about special events, or other news highlights.
Another vital source of information is, of course, the district website. It is the go-to source for news, events, resources and other information that is important to parents, students and the
community. All of the other communication methods that I'll discuss today link back to the website, so we are always driving traffic back to the primary site. We redesigned the website in October to
specifically address the concerns and suggestions of families. We made it easier to find the most important news by providing spotlights and popular links on the Home page. We standardized forms and
put them in the same place. We added more photos and information about middle and high school activities. We made it easier to access athletic information, and created a new page for school events
and community announcements. And most importantly, we've continued to make sure that there is current information on the website; nothing is more frustrating than seeing outdated information.
We also developed a mobile app, which is a free quick and easy way to access information on your smartphone or tablet. Families simply need to go to their app store and search for the Wissahickon
School District, and the app provides direct links to the pages that our families visit the most, as well as social media, the grading portal, which is Sapphire, the cafeteria payment system and so
on. Right now we have well over a thousand families who are using the app, and they frequently tell me how much they like that easy access to information.
Social media was introduced to the district at the beginning of this school year so that we could reach families fast and where they are, which means their smartphone, their tablets, their computers,
and so on. We launched Facebook and Twitter pages and a YouTube channel, and we use these sites to share news about everything; weather alerts, news announcements, achievements. Facebook and Twitter
are especially great sites for photo sharing. Our families really love to see the pictures of the students and the teachers' snapshots of, again, learning in action, and get a feel for what's
happening on a day-to-day basis in the schools. YouTube is, of course, the most popular video sharing site, and that has allowed us to expand our audience for viewing shows created by the middle
school and high school TV production crews, as well as the Communications Department. Facebook is by far the most interactive tool that families use. They actively engage with the school district by
liking, sharing and commenting on posts, and that expands your district messages to reach audiences who may not have students in the district. So at this point, we have close to two thousand fans, or
people who liked the page, and that continues to grow.
Families and community members that use Twitter, and this is a much smaller group of people, but for those that like Twitter, they can find a variety of Wissahickon staff to follow. I manage a page
for the district, but we also have our superintendent, Dr. Crisfield, several of our principals, our technology specialist and many teachers who use Twitter to communicate with parents and students,
too, in the classroom. We set up hashtags for WissLearns, WissCares, WissPride and WissNation, so Twitter users can search for everything on those specific topics. Classroom and learning highlights,
community service, character education, individual staff and student achievements, and then more districtwide achievements.
On a monthly basis, and twice a month at the high school, the principals request information and photos from teachers and other staff, which we incorporate into an e-newsletter, and then we send that
to all families within their school. At the high school, the staff add the information to OneNote, which is an interactive tool, and then the principal provides the content to the Communications
Department to design and distribute the newsletter. We have found that this is a great way to share, again, news highlights, staff achievements, students' achievements and lots of photos with our
families. More and more teachers are sharing examples of what they're doing in the classroom every month. The last two issues of the high school newsletter, in fact, were seven pages, so it's almost
getting to the point where we have too much good information to share. Our superintendent and assistant superintendent also send periodic e-newsletters for important districtwide topics, which
families had said they were interested in learning more about. In the spring, we created a subscription-based newsletter, which includes more global highlights from the last quarter, and that's
intended to be of interest to the general community, who may not have students within the district.
These are the cover pages for our high school and middle school e-newsletters. You can see that they have a variety of articles and pictures in there. These are the cover pages of the elementary --
two of the elementary schools. To reach our community through traditional media, which was another way parents said they like to receive information, is that we increased our number of press releases
that we send out to the papers, radios, TV station. This was an easy task to do, because we've already gathered the news for our newsletters, our social media and our website, so it's just a matter
of sharing the stories that you think are the most newsworthy with your local media. We also worked hard this year to align the efforts of our six home and school organizations, and our education
foundation. Each of these organizations has their own communication tools; e-newsletter, social media and webpages. So we support each other by cross-communicating the news and events, and we work
together on fundraising events for the district and schools.
The connection with the home and school organizations has also been significantly improved through monthly meetings with the superintendent, the assistant superintendent, myself and the presidents or
co-presidents of each of the home and schools. This allows us to hear concerns of the parents at each of the schools, and allows them to receive information directly from the district, which they can
then take back to share with parents at their meetings. This year, we have also engaged our families and community members through a new athletics task force. One of our priorities was to develop a
strategic plan to enhance athletic facilities, and enhance school spirit and participation in sports and other activities. So we have now more than 50 members of the community, including coaches,
staff, home and school, booster representatives and community sports organizations, who meet on a regular basis to discuss these initiatives, and that really speaks to the importance of inclusion. I
think that any school that's addressing a major initiative that impacts the whole student body and the community can benefit from convening stakeholders and meetings such as this. We also recently
scheduled a special school board committee meeting, and extended an invitation communitywide to discuss the subject of revising the middle school schedule. This was important because there were
strong feelings and opinions from teachers and parents that needed to be heard, and this helped the district decide which direction to move.
Here are some resources for you to look at on your own time. The first link is to a Communications overview, which has a little bit more information about all of the communication tools that I just
discussed. The Trojan Talk are samples of our high school newsletter, and Wiss Nation links to the community newsletter, so you can get a feel for the type of news and information that has been
included in those publications. And that is all I have to share about Wissahickon. Thank you.
>> Thank you, Kristen. It sounds like you've really made -- the districts made a lot of updates to your communication system. I have a question. Does your communication go out in multiple languages?
Do you have anything, or have a need in your district to have things in multiple languages?
>> We do translate some of our documents and publications that we believe are -- it's absolutely a necessity that the parents be able to read. Many of our families, we hope, are using Google Translate
and have their computer set so if they're looking at information on the website, it will be displayed in their language. But we have used translation services for multiple documents this year, and
have sent those out. Each of the schools at the beginning of the year sent home a request to parents to ask them if they needed translated documents, so that helped us create a list and make sure
that those parents had what they needed.
>> Now the app sounds wonderful, and parents can access many things on their websites. Is there a way through the website or through the app that the parents can contact the school or contact
teachers? Is that built in, or is that something -- how is that handled?
>> There is, both on the website and on the app, the staff director, which has the email links directly to the teachers or administrators that they want to reach. If you're using Facebook, you can do
a private message to me as the Communications director, so sometimes people will ask questions about various things via social media. But most families use the email contacts that they can find on
either the app or the website.
>> You have a lot of followers on YouTube. And I know that many schools will block YouTube within the building. Does Wissahickon block YouTube? Is that something that people can access while in the
building, or is that something that's just being accessed from home?
>> We decided when we started using social media that we would unblock it. We didn't actually widely promote the fact that we had unblocked it, but we figured that it was important for especially our
teaching staff to be able to see what we were sharing with the community. So if they've got any questions about something that was online, they would know what it was referencing.
>> Okay, well, thank you very much, Kristen. Again, if you have any questions for Kristen, please type them in the Chat box. We can take questions now, or we may hold off until the end of the webinar
to address questions. But please let us know, and we can respond to them as they come in.
At this time, I'd like to welcome the staff from the Great Valley School District. We have Dr. Joanna Wexler, Trisha Beck and Amanda Haskell. Welcome.
>> Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Joanna Wexler speaking from Great Valley School District, director of Special Education. We'll first discuss who and where we are. The Great Valley School
District is located in the suburban Philadelphia area. We are located in Chester County, and we encompass parts of the historic main line, there on Route 30. Our total student population is
approximately 3950, we're hovering just under four thousand. Our students, the number of students identified as receiving special education services in the district has been for several years at
about 15 percent, which is aligned with the state average.
We consist of six schools in the Great Valley School District, and they are listed here; Charlestown, Sugartown, General Wayne and K. D. Markley Elementary schools are our four K through 5 buildings
in the district. And then we also have one middle school and one high school on campus. And the nice thing is that our middle school and high school are on the same campus physically, so that does
help with sharing of resources and some structural issues as well.
This is the mission of our school district which has been in place for several years. It says that we look to ensure that every student is inspired and prepared to be a passionate lifelong learner and
a productive citizen. I will take just a brief moment as we talk about parent engagement. We're going to be discussing two initiatives in both the Special Education and Curriculum department of the
district, and I'll be talking about how as a new director to the district, the director of Special Education, how we really formed kind of off the ground a newly-formed parent council for the
district, one had been in place several, several years ago, but we wanted to revamp, sort of resurrect and redefine that group. And part of doing so was, on our website we looked to create a special
-- you know, there is a tab for us in Pupil Services, and we're encompassed -- Special Education is encompassed under that. And then what we did here, as we're looking to revamp our website as part
of being more inclusive and more engaging of our parents and families in the district, we also created a new tab for our SEPAC, which is our Special Education Parent Advisory Council for the
district. So this is new for us this year. And you can also see we have included our parent leaders that are facilitating this group for us, which I'll talk about in a few moments.
So as I mentioned, this is my second year in the district, so I am relatively new to Great Valley. And I oversee this Special Education Department. And we went through the mandatory compliance
monitoring in 2014. I began with the district in the summer of 2014, but obviously the monitoring took place that spring, so I met with our BSE representative from PDE, and we have reviewed the areas
of need for Great Valley. And we had two areas that we needed to focus on for improvement over a three-year timeframe. One of those was to increase parent training and supports, which obviously is
part of what we're talking about today, which is the engagement process and our ability for parents to access information via our website and some other resources; that was an area that we really
needed to improve. And second to that, we also need to improve our least restrictive environment index, LRE. We had a tendency to service students at that supplemental level of support, and we are
looking to be more inclusive with students, so it can be participate in general education more frequently and more meaningfully. So although these are two separate issues, we felt that the two could
And we spent the first year, which was last year, pulling two committees together; one for elementary, one for secondary. And we included parents of Special Education students on those committees,
where we really looked at our LRE issues, studied our data, looked to see what both parent and teacher perceptions are of including students with disabilities, which we had learned through our
cyclical monitoring as well. And my goal was to not only engage parents in the conversation, but help them help us with the decisions we needed to make to improve our LRE situation. And I think the
biggest benefit to including parents in those committees was really informing them on the importance of inclusion. I think they needed to hear some of the ramifications of not being included over the
years, and how that could have an impact for some of the high-stakes testing and other graduation requirements that seem to ebb and flow, but at least for now, looking at those Keystones and the
graduation rates, and the importance of having access to rigor throughout the years of their participation in the program.
So that was our first year of studying our LRE needs, including parents in the conversations, presenting at board meetings, really informing the public that this is something we're working on over
three years, and we need to get better at it. So the second year was then really kind of diving more deeply into the parent engagement process. And it was our goal as a department to bring back that
parent advisory council that existed several years ago. So I think when you're trying to get something up from the ground, it can be a little challenging. So we made a decision in collaboration with
our superintendent that we felt that in order to get started, it would be best for us administratively to focus on two parents that we viewed as really great communicators in our district, who we saw
as potential parent leaders. And we knew that one of them happens to be a trained advocate, which is wonderful for us, very well-informed. Student is at the high school level, so has experienced all
the challenges from early intervention all the way through high school. And then the other parent is the parent of a child at the elementary level. So we kind of had that balance of the different
ages. And we really liked the historical perspective of our high school parent, who's seen the changes through the district and some of the staff turnover in our department, and how that has been a
real challenge, I think, for our parents to engage with us and trust.
So we knew going in that we had some relationship building and repair work to do. So lucky for us, the two parents agreed to do it, which was wonderful. And we met with him, and we said this is how we
want to structure it. We talked about meeting bimonthly, but they said we think we need to meet monthly, because we have a lot of work to do to build and repair. So we listened to that. Our
superintendent is very supportive; she has attended those meetings with us, which I think has been really critical to the success. And the first meeting we had with our families in January, we just
kind of conducted a survey, like, what do you feel you need as families in the district to support your students through the process, and created like a structured survey for them to choose areas in
which they wanted more parent training and support. And then we set up monthly meetings, obviously, through this year, and we advertised through our website and through email blasts, and we're hoping
we're reaching everyone, but I think we probably could also do better with that, moving forward, and not just relying exclusively on the technology piece.
I guess the other piece that I failed to mention, before I go onto this slide, was we did learn in our first meeting that the families of students who've been placed outside the district, it has been
a concern in terms of engagement, that those families feel very disengaged. And it was a really good learning experience for us administratively to remember that even though the students are not in
our buildings on site physically, that they're still part of our Great Valley community. And we noticed that some of our communication was, not intentionally, but it was set up in a way that wasn't
including those families. So things you sort of learn through the process that are just really important, so we were able to restructure some of those pieces technologically to make sure that
everything we send, whether it be really the Special Education curriculum, any communication that those parents are still included. And I think they expressed that that was really important to them,
and we definitely wanted to listen to that.
So the meetings have been going very well. Like I said, we've been structuring them with different presentations on different areas. Our subsequent meetings focused on transition needs. We brought in
a presenter on building special needs trusts and financial planning, and then in May we had a meeting with a neuro psychologist regarding understanding executive functioning, how to support your
child at home. So trying to provide a broad array of topics to reach different disability needs, because I think there is a wide range, obviously. And then the other piece that we're doing
departmentally is, surveying our parent satisfaction with the Great Valley Department of Special Education; like, how are we doing in meeting your child's needs? We are issuing a survey, a paper
survey, or electronic, depending on the preferred method that the parent would like. We're issuing that right after the annual IEP so that the parents have an opportunity to give us feedback on the
items that I've listed here. So understanding their child's report, whether it be the evaluation or the reevaluation; did it explain your child's needs, do you feel that you understand the whole
process of the IEP and how we're progress-monitoring? Just generally, are your child's needs being met?
We also wanted to again survey what do you need as a family to support your child both in school and at home, so we added a question in regarding workshop and training opportunities. We are -- since
these are kind of going out on an ongoing basis throughout the year, we're reviewing the results monthly, and due to some questions from our Special Education teachers, they were also very interested
in the results and requested that they be involved in reviewing how parents and families feel about our services. So we will form a small committee of those who are interested in June, teacher
representation, to sit down and really look at those results. And we've been pretty clear with our teachers this is not to be evaluative of anyone that works for Great Valley, although there could be
some things in the surveys that may point directly at an individual -- that can happen -- but that the overarching goal for doing this is just to help us get better as a department. So fortunately,
they've been receptive to that.
So I will turn it over to Mrs. Trisha Beck and Amanda Haskell, who will speak about our parent universities as part of sort of our curricular initiatives in the district.
>> Hi. I'm Trisha Beck, and I'm our director of Teaching and Learning. And within our Teaching and Learning Department, we are in the process -- we also have a secondary supervisor of Teaching and
Learning, who focuses at the middle school and the high school level, as well as we are in the process of hiring an elementary supervisor as well. And they're also fortunate enough to have a
secondary Math coach. So Amanda Haskell is joining us as well today.
So our efforts with regards to our Math parent university came out of a growing -- we did a lot of work when our curriculum was initiated at the elementary level three years ago as we revised our Math
curriculum to align with the PA core standards. And at that point in time, we had a very comprehensive communication plan that involved webinars, parent information sessions, Family Math Nights over
the course of the year. But then as other initiatives took a focus the following year, we had really dropped off in terms of our comprehensive support for parents around Math. And we weren't hearing
as many concerns from parents, but in individual conversations, and as we learned more about the Math education research, we were seeking a way to engage and educate and continue that ongoing
conversation about Math with our parents at all levels, K-12.
So the Teaching and Learning Department worked together, and really Amanda and I worked together, to design a course to provide parents with new Math education research, an opportunity for them to
engage in Math and to do Math with us, and also to give them materials, resources, strategies and tools that they could take away with them to use to help their children at home. So we designed a
six-week Math course that would take place, students or parents would engage with us one hour a week. And we began with just a pilot. We weren't sure what the reception would be from parents, so we
began with a during the day course. And we kept the size limited to 25 parents, and we were flooded with responses and interest. So we ran the first course during the day, and then we've run now
another evening course, so to allow parents both timeframes to choose from or to select, to engage with us. And it really appeared to be -- we had a lot of reception and a lot of interest in both of
Okay, so some of the resources that we provided to parents included research and background knowledge on growth mindset, from Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck. We provided them with tips, tools and
strategies to kind of help cultivate a growth mindset at home. For example, we gave them a booklist ranging from picture books and read-alouds to chapter books for teenagers to help facilitate
conversations around having a growth mindset and kind of persevering, and having grit. We provide the parents with talking points, and help them discuss grades with their students, as well as help
them create, frame a positive outlook on whatever the grade may be, in hopes to still kind of continuing that effort and achievement. Homework can also be a challenging task at home between a parent
and a student, so we focused on helping alleviate the frustration that can sometimes occur when parents may not understand how the Math is being taught in different ways, it's not what they were used
to being taught as with procedural kind of knowledge, and now we're focused more on conceptual. So we gave them some stems and sort of questions to kind of help frame the conversation and open up the
conversation between their child, as opposed to seeing homework as a shut-down mode of communication at home.
Another piece of content here as I share, we had a comprehensive plan when we revised our Math curriculum three years ago, but we hadn't done as much work on going with regards to the philosophy and
framework behind the core resource or program that we were using. So we currently use in Great Valley kindergarten through eighth grade the Math in Focus series, which is based on the Singapore
approach or philosophy to Math. So what we did within our parent university course was also, again, revisit that framework and that information, and that approach to Math education, enforced it
grades K to 8. We provided parents with the background and the research around the framework, as well as the teaching practices that align with that framework. And we also gave them time to engage in
the models and methodologies that our students were encountering, our students were using within the Math classroom.
So we spent a lot of time working with parents to support them in their own mental Math thinking, and their own number sense and conceptual understanding of how numbers work. We also spent some time
going over the visual strategies, our modeling that their children were engaging in or bringing home for homework, as well as we also provided them with tools for Math fact fluency, but we focus with
parents not on the traditional skill and drill approach to Math fact fluency, but really gave them games and activities to build that conceptual understanding of how numbers work, why the
multiplication looks the way it does, how does it work, and building that true understanding before they moved into the memorization, or that kind of classic skill and drill approach. And then after
each session, too, any of the resources, the information, the videos that we used during the course, as well as any games, tools, activities, we made sure to email those out to all parents who were
involved in the course. So there were obviously evenings or days when parents had other engagements or other conflicts. So we made sure that after every session, all of the information was provided
electronically to parents as well. And we got a lot of feedback from parents; a lot of the games, a lot of the apps they were taking back and using immediately with their children at home. So they
were playing them with other parents and peers within the course, and then using them and engaging with their children at home, and having conversations around Math.
Joanna talked about surveys -- this slide addresses the surveys that we gave at the end of both sessions of our parent university, and the last one just ended a few weeks ago. We did give online
surveys to our parents, just asking them to identify the topics that they felt most beneficial to them and to their work at home with their children. So what we found was that the idea of growth
mindset, building that perseverance, that stamina, allowing their kids -- their children and themselves to really think about things from a learning perspective and ability to grow versus a fixed
mindset with the number one topic that parents felt was beneficial to them and their students. They also appreciated and indicated that having a greater understanding of the philosophy and the
approach that we use in our Math instruction within the district was beneficial. And then some of the topics they indicated as being less useful were the actual doing of the math. And we also worked
without our course to model the instructional strategies that we were also using within the classroom, so we had them engaged in group work and in collaboration, and talked about the reasons for
that, as well as working in partners, doing some of the think pair share strategies, and those pieces. So as we asked them to rate them, those came up as being less useful than the growth mindset,
and just really the core philosophy that their students were encountering within our classrooms.
These are just a couple of links to the resources that we use to kind of help us develop the parent Math university course. Dreambox is one of the online learning opportunities that we have for our
students, K-5 as well as looking at bridging it into 6 through 8. But it allows students to work at various levels, their level of ability, and kind of focus on the conceptual understanding of
mathematics as opposed to, again, that skill and drill of procedural knowledge. And it is adapted for students as they progress through the course. At the end of each session, like Trisha said, we
did surveys based on the results. We did find that parents were -- overwhelmingly had stated that many of their friends or peers or neighbors didn't get into the course, or were upset that it filled
up so quickly. We had filled up both of our courses in under an hour. So we were getting a lot of phone calls and emails saying, hey, I can't click this button, why can't I get in? And it was full.
So we, Trisha and I kind of brainstormed, and so we are currently building a course online through iTunes U for our parents in the district in order to access the course, so we're doing a little bit
of design work in changing how parents interact with the materials, since now it's going to be online at their own pace. So we are currently trying to figure out how to manage discussion boards for
parents. We have also worked through it as through videos, and interact with materials, so that the same kind of purpose, I guess, out of the course that we intended when we had the face-to-face
conversations. But we thought that this would kind of allow our parents to work on them at home whenever they wanted to, over the course of a week, or six weeks, or two months if necessary, but just
to let everybody kind of feel like they had an opportunity to engage and take something back with them.
>> Okay, thank you very much. Just a couple of questions as you were presenting. You said that you do send out parent surveys, just I guess [INAUDIBLE], and then also surveys to parents with children
with IEPs. And I was just curious, what percentage, or how often do you hear back from parents? What is the percentage of surveys that you get in return? Is it high? Is it low? Have you evaluated or
looked at the return?
>> Yeah, that's kind of a tough question, only because I don't know off the top of my head how many we're sending out, like, the rate at which we're sending is dependent upon how many annual IEPs
we're having. So I haven't gotten that far yet. We started initiating them, I think, in February, and right now, you know, we're seeing, I would say, per month maybe anywhere from five to ten come
back right now. But there's also a slew of annuals that will occur in May. But yeah, in terms of overall response rate, I don't know yet. But it's a good question. Yeah.
>> Thanks. When the SEPAC parent from the high school no longer has a child attending high school, do you have a plan in place for -- will that parent continue, or will you have to have a plan in
place for selection of another parent? Or do you think you would increase the number of parents that participate on your parent council?
>> So, yeah, the parent council is open, obviously, to anyone who's enrolled in the district, K to 12, or if their transition needs exceed up until 21. The two parents that we've asked to be our
parent leaders, our facilitators, we asked them to do that through the end of this year, instead of the end of this year we would revisit if they would like to continue on to next year. Our goal
would be that eventually, the parents that are most active in it would be able to have that conversation among themselves, like, hey, I've done this for one or two years, I think it's time for
someone else to sort of step up, and that they could nominate internally. I would hope that eventually we as administrators wouldn't have to delegate it, but we're not there yet, so I haven't -- you
know, like I said, they've been serving in this role for just a few months. I'm envisioning that they'll probably be with us in that role into next year as well.
>> Okay. Your parent university sounds like a great resource for parents, and it's awesome that you're getting it up and working on getting things online. Do you have a plan of -- will you change
topics, or will you add other topics to the parent university? Do you have a game plan, like, moving forward?
>> I think at this point, we began with Math, because we found that that's, for years, has been a topic of conversation among parents and within our community with regards to Math instruction and our
approach to Math instruction. We had -- we used everyday math, if I can date myself, probably 15 years ago, and had done a lot of parent engagement around that. But there was always questions about
the instructional approach and the strategies. So we began with the area where we were hearing the greatest number of questions and concerns from parents. I think that our plan, moving forward, is to
get this content online, and then to begin to build into survey parents to engage them in what would be of most interest to them. The growth mindset work, too, can cross content areas. So once we
have the Math piece up, I think what we'll look to first is also looking at those topics that cross content areas, like the growth mindset and differentiated instruction, and what that looks like in
the classroom, and then survey parents and use those results to really drive what our courses look like.
>> Okay, great. One last question, how do you engage families of both Special Ed and General Ed together? Do you have something in place that both groups would be together at the same time, being
>> I think the parent universities and some of our curriculum nights are always intended and geared towards all students and families, and we make sure that within our professional development for
teachers, as well as the support that we provide to parents in terms of the curricular aspect, that we're including Special Education teachers and regular education teachers. So as we're reaching out
beyond just the website and the emails, those teachers are having conversations with parents, those Special Education teachers and general education teachers are inviting and encouraging parents to
attend those events. And then I will say that our departments work very closely and cohesively together. So the supervisors in the Special Education Department work very closely with our secondary
supervisor, and in the future with our elementary supervisor so that we're having planning meetings and collaborating around curricular initiatives, and then what will that communication plan look
like for each of those initiatives moving forward, if we do that work together.
>> Okay, very good. And one last, we have one last question here. How do you engage a community? Do you have anything geared that you're engaging community members?
>> I think we have a number -- we've had a number of -- we don't have anything specifically that's ongoing in terms of a specific task force to engage community members at this point in time. We do
have a foundation that's affiliated with the school district, and they work very closely with us around our goals that are written into the comprehensive plan, our annual goals as well as our long
term goals. And that -- myself and a number of other administrators on that foundation board, or visit that foundation board to engage their efforts. And they represent a wide variety of stakeholders
across the community, so that we're cohesively and comprehensively working together. The other piece, too, is we do work, and we do have parent engagement with the families of the students who are
receiving English language services. So we do work very closely - we hold evening events at the beginning of the school year, we hold an ESL back to school night event, where our families can come.
We bring a number of translators in in the various languages based on student need to support our families, particular those who are not as well educated on even just the paperwork and the forms that
are needed at the beginning of the school year. So our families can come, our ESL teachers do an incredible job of communicating that information, and that happens right at the beginning of the
school year. So that's a way to engage students and their parents. We provide dinner, and we provide resources and activities for the students, and then engaged our ELL community that way. And then
there's events, and we're building the number of events that we do on an ongoing basis.
>> That sounds great, thank you. Okay, just checking, do we have any other questions from the Chat box? Okay, looks like we're good.
All right, moving on, we thank both of our schools for being here, and some really very useful information was highlighted from both schools. And if you have any further questions at the end of the
presentation, you'll see the contact email addresses for our presenters.
Right now, you're seeing, on the slide, it's the Pennsylvania State Performance Plan Indicators for Success. And indicator eight states that the state or the school districts will increase
school-facilitated parent involvement in their child's Special Education program. Reports are sent annually to OSEP on the different indicators. And one thing that just came out recently to
administrators last week was a notification sent out to the administrators by Pat Hozella, the director of the Bureau of Special Education, with the announcement of the districts that will be
included in this year's parent survey. And the requirement for the school is to collect and report data on the involvement of families and Special Education. So this survey comes out, and there's a
rotation throughout the school districts in Pennsylvania so that a school is involved every five or six years to participate in the survey. The survey goes out through an independent agency called
Leader Services, and prior to this survey going out, schools are notified when their year is coming forth for them to participate, and then the state encourages the districts to go ahead and notify
the parents that the survey would be coming to them, so that they can increase the participation rate of those families. The information that the parents provide on the surveys does not go directly
back to the school. It goes back to Leader Services, who then accumulate and acquire all the data and report out on the results of the survey.
Here you can see just a copy of the parent survey. And there is a link on the bottom of the slide that will take you to the PaTTAN website, where you can actually pull up the survey and view it more
clearly. But the survey is sent out to a random sampling, too, of the parents. So not every parent with a child with an IEP would receive the survey, but again, it is a random sample of those parents
with students of IEP. Okay, and here you see the survey was mailed, will be mailed by Leader Services, and the data is compiled and then made public once it's all analyzed.
Also, if you go to the PaTTAN website, you will find access to the parent survey, as well as other useful resources, our parent consultants have created links to a document you can view that, again,
explains the survey and how the results are used, and just the importance, the general importance of having your parents complete the survey.
We have professional development opportunities coming up in the near future through PaTTAN. We have the Transition Conference this summer, the Leadership Academy, we have the National Autism
Conference in August, and the Low Incidence Institute also happening in August. In addition to that, we have this year again our PaTTAN Assistive Technology Expo, the save-the-date flyer has gone out
and there will be three separate dates; November 8th, 9th and 10th, throughout the state where people can go and participate in the assistive technology expo.
This slide is showing you the Family Engagement page of the PaTTAN website. You can see along the right the Family Engagement webinar series; you can see this year's LEA to LEA webinar series, and you
can click on these links and get access to our past webinars in each series. And it does go back; we have archived sessions of webinar series' back to the 2012, 2013 school year. But all this
information, in addition to many valuable resources, you are able to access all at the PaTTAN website, and everything is free of charge.
Thank you for joining us today. If you have any questions for our two participating school districts, their contact information is on this last slide, and you can definitely contact them if you have
more specific questions. And if you have any questions for any of the PaTTAN consultants for any of the initiatives, you can contact the PaTTAN office directly, the PaTTAN office in your region. In
the East it's the King of Prussia office, and there is the Harrisburg and Pittsburg offices in the central and western region as well.
Thank you for joining us today, and we hope that you have come away with some valuable information that we showcased on today's webinar. Thank you. Goodbye.