Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Communication about students using the new college-and-career-ready standards (scaffolding needed!)

The 2007 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.


  1. I'm so glad that KY PTA was able to put The Missing Piece together and have been able to present it's ideas at National PTA conferences in order to help others facilitate strong parent and school connections. I'm also glad for the Prichard committee and it's support of this initative.

  2. Let me clarify, KY PTA as well as the Prichard Committee as part of the CPAC in 2007 collaborated on this effort, utilizing information from the Maryland PTA as well as National PTA publications. Several KY PTA members served on this committee along with others (30 total) to provide this valuable tool. The point is that collaboration is the key to providing a successful parent and student partnership and that contributions from all stakeholders should be acknowledged and appreciated. We must work together instead of seperately if we are to achieve any change. Prichard and PTA are part of a whole that provide parents, students, and others with essential information in which to navigate our changing education landscape here in Kentucky.

  3. The Missing Piece Report was developed by the KY Commmissioner's Parents Advisory Council which is made up of over 35 parents from around the state representing the following organizations: Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership Fellows (CIPL), KY PTA representatives, KY Association for School Council parent representatives (KASC), KY PIRC, KCSVO, and FRYSC respresentatives.

    The Missing Piece has received national recognition and is being used in many states as a new standard of measurement of a school's involvement of parents and community focused on improving student achievment.

    Susan, I am thrilled that you are tying this work to the new common standards because it helps to clarify the connections to the important role parent and community involvement plays. This makes it easier for anyone who interacts with parents to support this work.

    It is exciting to see the work of all of the CPAC partners in support of the Missing Piece. Here are some links I found on partner websites:

    Cindy Baumert

  4. Ah,success has many mothers.

    Here's the full text of the Acknowledgements section of the report itself:

    Two years of meetings, conversations, conference calls, e-mail exchanges, and committee work have gone into this report. A majority of the members of the Commissioner’s Parents Advisory Council (CPAC) listed on the following page participated actively and made important contributions. We would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication.

    We would like to make special mention of Carol Edelen, Alice Nelson, Lois Quilligan, Lou Ann Cavenee-Ramos, Bev Raimondo, and Sande Shepherd, who worked with us for many hours to develop and refine the language of the Kentucky Family and Community Involvement Guide. Susan Perkins Weston, former director of the Kentucky Association of School Councils, now director of Council Coach, reviewed our work and gave us considerable suggestions for clarity and simplification. Tina Brooks and Cheri Meadows made many helpful suggestions about wording. Bev Raimondo found and recommended the report from the Maryland Parent Advisory Committee to Commissioner Wilhoit.

    CPAC also worked closely with staff of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) during CPAC meetings and in committees. Special mention must go to former Commissioner Gene Wilhoit, whose vision inspired our work; to Shaun Murphy, Branch Manager, Community Support for Students and Families, who went beyond the call of duty to set up meetings, engage KDE colleagues, design agendas, and provide guidance and advice; and to Kevin Noland, Interim Commissioner, for his steadfast support and attendance. We also thank the following KDE staff:
    Annette Bridges, Branch Manager, Preschool Education
    Stephanie Christenson, Program Consultant, Community Education
    David Cook, Policy Advisor, Office of Leadership & School Improvement
    Missy Drury, Legal, Legislative, and Communication Services
    Linda France, Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Learning Results Services
    Lisa Gross, Director, Division of Communications
    Joan Howard, Program Consultant, Service Learning, FRYSC Liaison
    Barbara Kennedy, Director, Division of Scholastic Assistance
    Ginger Mason, Program Consultant, Targeted Assistance
    Erin McGee, Program Consultant, Council Development & Planning
    Cheri Meadows, Branch Manager, Council Development & Planning
    Jay Roberts, Database Analyst, Data Management
    Linda Robinson, Program Consultant, 21st Century Community Learning Centers
    Brigette Stacy, Program Consultant, Community Support for Students & Families
    Terry Vance, Program Consultant, Community Support for Students & Families

    Anne Henderson, senior consultant with the Community Involvement Program at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, facilitated meetings, advised on the research, worked on drafts, and edited this report. This report has truly been a collaborative endeavor. We could not have done it without support from everyone on the CPAC and from the KDE staff. Many thanks should go to all of you.

    Cindy Baumert and Dennis Pearce
    Co-Chairs, Commissioner’s Parents Advisory Council

    (Let me add a further note about Lois. Lois was the parent council member who told me--at a library story hour--that a guy named Charlie Edwards wanted to talk to me about the council organization he was creating. She also served for many years on the KASC staff, shaping its culture and its services in deep and important ways. She's part of KASC's DNA.)


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