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Hot List Q & A
Parent Advisory Committee

Original Question:

My question relates to the establishment of a Parent Advisory Committee as specified in the NJ Bilingual Code as specified below:

6A:15-1.15 Parental involvement

(a) Each district board of education shall provide for the maximum practicable involvement of parent(s) of limited English proficient students in the development and review of program objectives and dissemination of information to and from the boards of education and communities served by the bilingual, ESL, or English language services education program.

(b) Each district board of education implementing a bilingual education program shall establish a parent advisory committee on bilingual education on which the majority will be parent(s) of students of limited English proficiency.

As I understand it, am I correct in understanding that we are required to have this PAC if there is a bilingual program, not simply a high-intensity ESL program? Second, for those districts with PACs, what are the specific requirements of its operation? Are teachers and/or administrators required to be part of it? How often does it meet? As stated above, it seems pretty vague, so I am trying to get a sense of exactly what such a committee would look like.

Thanks for your help.

Reply:

Dear colleague,

Please see the guidance from page 7 of Implementing ELL Program Services in New Jersey

http://www.nj.gov/education/bilingual/policy/ImplementingELLPrograms.pdf.

All districts with full-time bilingual programs or alternatives to full-time programs must establish a parent advisory committee on bilingual/ESL education of which the majority membership must be parents/guardians of ELLs. The committee must meet multiple times per year.

In other words, all alternative programs (e.g. High-Intensity ESL, Sheltered Instruction, and Part-Time Bilingual) must have a parent advisory committee.

Regards,
Ken Kenneth Bond,
Program Development Coordinator
Bureau of Bilingual/ESL Education
New Jersey Department of Education

Follow-up Question:

Thank you, Ken!

Are ELS districts held to the same requirement?

Reply:

Under state regulations, ESL-only and ELS programs are not required to have a bilingual parent advisory committee. However, under Title I of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, there is a requirement for ELL-specific parent meetings. If your district receives Title I funding and enrolls ELLs, then you will be held to this requirement. The outreach must include holding, and sending notice of opportunities for, regular meetings in order to gather and respond to recommendations from parents. (ESEA Section 1112(e)(3)(C)).

Ken Kenneth Bond,
Program Development Coordinator
Bureau of Bilingual/ESL Education
New Jersey Department of Education

Follow-up:

Building a Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee
From the Voices, Fall 2014 issue, ESL Secondary SIG Article
By Marcella Garavaglia
Use the following framework to build a Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee (BPAC.)

Parents/Guardians:

Parental/guardian involvement is the key to academic success for all English language learners. BPAC [Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee] meetings are informative for both parents and teachers. They are a wonderful opportunity to meet students’ parents face-to-face multiple times a year. However. transportation, English proficiency, and childcare may be  issues that hamper a decent turnout. If possible, encourage carpooling between students’ families. Make sure students and parents know that English-speaking family friends who may serve as translators are invited (with their babies or toddlers, as necessary).

The Committee:

Parents/guardians of ELLs, the ESL supervisor, the ESL guidance counselor(s), the ESL teacher(s), the bilingual paraprofessional(s), and teachers of ELLs such as content teachers who teach sheltered classes are part of this committee. Other administrators and faculty members that work closely with ELLs may also be part of this committee.

BPAC Meetings:

My district holds four BPAC meetings per year. They are no easy feat to prepare for but it is a team effort that involves support from administration, teachers of ELLs, and bilingual paraprofessionals. Every year we seek to improve our meetings and attendance.

Initial Contact:

The first full week of school we give all of our ELLs a bilingual flyer (double-sided) with information for the first BPAC meeting. This flyer includes the date and time for the meeting and future meetings for the year; a bulleted list of topics that will be discussed at the meeting;  a space to R.S.V.P. to confirm their attendance and to clarify how many family members will attend;  and of course a reminder that food will be served. The ESL program budgets for food and drinks for these meetings. At the evening meeting, dinner is served buffet style and,  at the morning meetings, breakfast is served.

Two to three weeks before the meetings, we try to call each family to invite them personally/verbally, especially families of new students. It is impossible to make all the phone calls in one day therefore, members of the committee such as the ESL teacher(s) and bilingual paraprofessional(s) make a team effort to divide and conquer the call list.

Meeting Dates:

In September ,we hold our first meeting: the ELL Open House begins at 5:00 pm, before Back to School Night which begins at 6:30 pm. The ELL Open House allows parents to eat dinner and receive specific ESL program information as well as general school information  in English and Spanish, or other majority language depending on your ELL population and bilingual faculty.
We then hold three morning meetings towards the ends of October, February, and April from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. These dates always fall close to the parent-teacher conferences or mid-marking period in order for parents to receive the students’ most up-to-date academic progress.

Agendas and Resources:

Create folders for parents that include a bilingual school calendar, sample interim report and marking period report cards for the first meeting. Later on, include a copy of the individual student’s interim or report card at the following meetings, a list of bilingual report card comments, a summary of the most important school rules, the attendance policy, graduation requirements, emergency school closing information, important ESL department contact information including phone numbers for Spanish-speaking faculty members (or other majority language), Be sure to include as well Parent Portal information, after school program dates and times, information about reading or writing computer programs that ELLs have access to, flyers for local Adult ESL classes, and flyers for local health clinics and general healthcare information.

Microsoft Word/PowerPoint:

Many computer programs can design flyers, agendas, school calendars, and presentations but basic programs such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint suffice. Learn how to insert screenshots. This feature is extremely useful: it gives parents a visual of how to navigate through the school website to find the Parent Portal link and it shows parents how the login screens and homepages to reading and writing computer programs students use look.

Remember, having a BPAC is in the bilingual code!

“6A:15-1.15 Parental involvement

Each district board of education shall provide for the maximum practicable involvement of parent(s) of LEP students in the development and review of program objectives and dissemination of information to and from the district boards of education and communities served by the bilingual, ESL, or English language services education programs.

Each district board of education implementing a bilingual education program shall establish a parent advisory committee on bilingual education of which the majority membership shall be parent(s) of LEP students.”

Please use  the NJTESOL/NJBE Hotlist, Twitter, or Facebook page to share the strategies and practices that your district uses to plan and hold successful BPAC meetings. 

Marcella Garavaglia is the NJTESOL/NJBE ESL Secondary Representative. She teaches ESL at Colts Neck High School for the Freehold Regional High School District.
mgaravaglia@njtesol-njbe.org
Marcella Garavaglia

Posted to the hotlist: January 10, 2017

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