• School staff ensures every student has a parent and/or another adult who knows how to advocate, or speak up for them, regarding the student’s academic goals and individual needs.I've spent a lot of time talking with frustrated advocates for individual children: they're pretty much my favorite kind of folks.
• Most parents participate actively in student led conferences or other two-way communication about meeting their child’s individual learning needs.
• Parents report participating actively and effectively in required planning for individual learning, for example, Individual Education Plans, Individual Learning Plans, Gifted Student Plans, 504 Plans, and intervention strategies to ensure college readiness....
• School staff gives parents clear, complete information on the procedures for resolving concerns and filing complaints, and the council reviews summary data on those complaints to identify needed improvements.
• School staff ensures that parents and community members are well informed about how to become educational advocates, or how to access a trained educational advocate when needed.
• As students are identified by school staff as having disabilities or performing at the novice level, additional intentional steps are taken to ensure that parents have the option to use a trained advocate to assist them in speaking for their child’s needs.
What they want, over and over, is to get a clear commitment on what a child needs to learn and a clear commitment on the steps to make that happen and then (most importantly) follow-through on what goes down in the IEP or the notes from the meeting or the e-mail to spell out what's been discussed.
The new standards ought to make it easier for advocates to get to the specification of what a child will achieve. They're shorter, clearer, better broken down into levels of work. Using them, it should be more possible to say students will reach the standards for the grade during the school year, or begin work with a collaborating teacher next week on the two that are proving difficult, or have summer support to get on top of any standards that aren't reached by year's end.
More importantly, the new standards are custom-made for a different model of teaching. They're meant to allow every classroom to be designed around meeting the same standard for every student, but doing it by varying means and constant adjustments based on fresh information about individual progress. If that becomes the regular way of doing business, then advocates will have a much simpler job. If the school day is already organized around responding to individual needs, the advocates will only need to discuss which particular adjustments will be the best help for a particular student.
Earlier PrichBlog posts on parent engagement and the new standards are here, here, and here.