Giving Parents Options: Strategies for Informing Parents and Implementing Public School Choice And Supplemental Educational Services Under No Child Left Behind
September 2007
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Ensuring readability

Equally essential to an effective parent notice is readability. A letter laden with legal and professional education terms is not likely to be informative to a parent and may prove intimidating. Rather than use potentially confusing jargon and "legalese," districts should focus on writing a notice in language that is plain and easy to understand. To this end, districts might avail themselves of readability indexes and tools that convert complex or technical terms into simple language. Districts should also be sure to translate parent notices into languages other than English wherever needed.

Assessing readability. To assess readability, districts should consider checking parent notices against readability indexes such as the Fry, Fog or Flesch index. Such readability indexes are relatively easy to use and can provide a quick and effective means to evaluate the general readability of written text and, in some cases, the specific reading grade-level of the text.

Additionally, districts have used parent advisory groups to proofread and provide suggestions for making notices more "parent friendly" before they go out.

Converting into simple language. If, by using such tools, a district determines that a parent notice is too complicated or difficult to understand, the district might want to use an instrument or materials that convert technical terms into plain language and that convert complex or repetitive terms or phrases into simpler forms. Such instruments often accompany readability indexes.

Translating into multiple languages. As some parents of eligible students may have limited or no proficiency in English, districts should translate notices into languages other than English to further ensure readability for all parents. Districts should determine which languages are spoken in the home and should prepare notices in these languages accordingly. Parent advisory groups may be helpful in determining which languages are needed.

Districts may choose to make non-English versions of the parent notice available only upon request. However, districts are encouraged to include these non-English versions of the notice when initially notifying parents of their options.

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Last Modified: 08/18/2008