Missing Piece report standard for strong communication is that: "Two-way information in many forms flows regularly between school staff and parents about students’ academic achievement and individual needs."
Kentucky has committed to new English/language arts and mathematics standards, to be shared with many other states, that will be shorter, clearer, and deeper than our past Core Content documents. The the current drafts of those documents (and lots of other reporting about Kentucky's decision) are available here.
There's a basic--maybe too basic--level of communication that could happen just with the standards themselves. A teacher could send home a copy of the third grade math standards with notes saying which ones a student mastered, which ones are nearly mastered, and which ones need work.
That's information, but it doesn't give parents a good idea of next steps.
Instead, there's going to be a crucial school-level effort after the standards are finalized. The standards are written now for statewide use, but they need to be broken down and restated as a set of steps for students to climb, like a ladder or a scaffold, to reach the standards. Doing the work within each school will ensure that the teachers know their own scaffolding inside and out.
That will allow teachers to plan their own instruction to move students up the steps. It will also allow them to show both students and parents which step a student has reached, and what work is needed to reach the next step. Parents, in turn, can ask for specifics on how to help and share information on what is and isn't working for their individual children.
That approach to clear expectations, careful data collection, and confidence-building communication is part of the "balanced assessment" or "assessment for learning" approach that is a regular topic in this blog.
The new standards are an important starting point, but we can't stop there. To allow the best communication between parents and and teachers, they should be converted into a scaffolding that makes sense to each school's teachers and that forms a framework for helping both students and parents see how to climb to success.
Readers may also want to check out Sunday's post on the main ideas in the Missing Piece report and Monday's post on parent learning opportunities and the new standards.