Last semester I had a student tell me about the sneaky way she had to use to find out her child's reading level. I was appalled. I never asked which district and don't want to know. My kids' teachers have told me the reading scores at conferences, which I had assumed every teacher in the country did. I was disappointed to find out I was wrong.
Jay Mathews lists parent participation as a way to improve schools. Participation can mean fundraising for the PTO, showing up for teacher conferences, helping in the classroom or even having a voice in school policies. If parents aren't even given their own child's assessments and standardized test results, then any talk about increasing participation is just so much fluff, happy talk, can-we-get-some-money-out-of-you talk.
If I had more time, I would survey the local districts for participation rates (using multiple methods of participating) and see which factors had the highest correlation rate. My guess would be education level, more so than median income. Secondary factors might include size of district and transportation method.
A theory of mine is that schools that don't provide bus service would have higher parent participation. They already have to walk or drive the kids to school. Double points for the schools that don't have efficient carpool lanes. The parents might actually have to go inside to pick up the kids and see the teachers. Find me one of those schools that doesn't have high parental partnership.
Parents that want to know how to become more involved or help their school become more open can be inspired by St. Louis's own Project Appleseed, a national resource for improving parental involvement. Actually, it has a lot of good information for educators also.
Schools usually include in their mission statements about the importance of parent participation. I want to see them walk it, which includes the first steps of thinking of parents as partners and providing them with all testing and assessment results, not just when the parents ask for it.