Thoughts About the Opening Weeks of School
While I have been telling everyone that our opening this year was extremely smooth…and it was…more important for parents is how your own child responded to his/her new class, new teacher and the fact that everyone has grown up over the summer. My office is located right in the middle school. Not only have these students grown physically, there is a more mature interaction between them as they meet at their lockers and as they discuss topics in class. The same holds true in the younger grades…the children have grown and seem to interact at more sophisticated levels with their friends.
The question moving forward becomes how do you know how well your child is doing? It is important on a daily basis to touch base with your child about how things are in school. Often the answer maybe one or two words (“Good,” is a common answer, or sometimes just a grunt). It is always good to probe to get explanations for what is going on. The best liaison at school is your child’s teacher. It is important to develop a relationship with the teacher, read the class and school newsletters, and bring up any concerns. It is also nice to say something positive to the teacher—they work awfully hard to run an effective and nurturing program. On September 29th we will have Back-To-School Night. This will be an opportunity for you to hear about the activities and expectations of your child’s class.
We also were able to send out the results of the PARCC Test and the NJ ASK Science (grades 4 and 8). These were the tests that the children took last Spring. Our school, as usual, scored above the averages for New Jersey and PARCC States (seven states in total took the test). We have not yet seen the local results for nearby schools. Again, questions may be directed to your child’s classroom teachers.
In the October 27th, 2015 New York Times, a letter that I wrote to the editor was published. It ended with the following idea:
For parents the most important source of information about a child’s progress is the teacher, not a score on a test.
In an article in the Schreveport Times (written by Chris Gabriel) on Novermber 6, 2015 a similar concept was put forward. Referring to the PARCC Administration Manual he writes:
However, the part of the guide that resonated with me was the very last statements of the first section. It reads, ‘The test is just one measure of how well your child is performing academically. Other sources of information, such as grades, teacher feedback, and scores on other tests, are important measures in understanding your child’s progress.’
I think all educators would agree—a test score’s value is based upon how it fits into the entire learning profile of a child. As the teachers get to know your children better, they will be able to give you a more in-depth assessment of their progress.
One final note from Chris Gabriel’s article:
So parents, while this PARCC test is important and could be called something else next year, it is only one measure of your child’s progress.
You are still the most important adult in the academic development of your child...Your involvement as an advocate for your child is critical to [his/her] success (emphasis added).