The Virginia Parent Involvement Priority Project (PIPP)

by Debbie Grosser, M.Ed., and Dale Pennell, C.A.S.

Three decades of research provide convincing evidence that parents are an important influence in helping their children achieve high academic standards. When schools collaborate with parents to help their children learn, and when parents participate in school activities and decision-making about their children's education, children achieve at higher levels, (United States Department of Education. 2004, p. 1)

"...The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act (IDEA) has, in essence, made collaboration a required part of special education services" (Friend & Cook, 2007, p. 21). In order to collaborate effectively as members of individualized education program (IEP) teams, parents must be empowered with knowledge of the IEP development process. Thus, educational professionals can and should provide families with the information to advocate for the educational needs of their children (Turnbull, Turnbull, Erwin, & Soodak, 2006).

One Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) initiative to empower parents of students with disabilities is the establishment of the Parent Involvement Priority Project (PIPP). The purpose of PIPP is to provide increased opportunities for special education training and technical assistance for parents and local Parent Resource Centers. PIPP membership includes representatives from Virginia's:

  • Parent Resource Centers (PRC)

  • Special Education Advisory Committees (SEAC)

  • Training and Technical Assistance Centers (T/TAC)

  • Parent Educational Advocacy Training Centers (PEATC)

  • Partnership for People with Disabilities (PPD)

  • Parents

When all members of a collaborating team- families and professionals-are able to become personally and individually more empowered and more able to reach a common goal, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts (Turnbull et al., 2006). To this end, PIPP coordinates a variety of initiatives that encourage collaboration between schools and families.

Date: September/October 2007