Monday, February 15, 2010

Parent learning opportunities to support college-and-career-ready standards

The Missing Piece report counts parent  learning opportunities as one of the six ways schools ought to engage parents.   Kentucky has committed to new college-and-career-ready standards for students, and it's time to get moving on ways for parents to learn about what's changing.

I'd suggest several steps for that effort.

Right now, spread the word about what's coming.  In newsletters, PTA meetings, and elsewhere, it's time to talk up the pending change. As a parent, there are two features of the new standards that strike me as the most important. First, we will see a much more concrete statement of what their students should be able to do as they complete each level of education.  Second, we can see where work at each level is heading: students who move through each level of the standards will finish high school be equipped for college-level work and ready to succeed in jobs with a future.

Soon, start designing tools for parents to explore the standards when a final edition is released:
  • For starters, the documents for each grade should be available on an accessible, widely publicized website.
  • Second, examples matter.  Right now, the English/language arts draft does a good job of displaying what sort of work students should be able to read at each level.  The mathematics draft, though, could use clearer illustrations of the work students should master.  If those examples are not built into the final edition, expert teachers should construct them quickly.
  • Third, organize it all as activities that can work at PTA meetings, school socials, and other events, and as displays that can catch a parent's eye on the way into the building.  Puzzles, checklists, posters, and videos can all be ways to draw parents into the discussion..
Those design steps can be done by state or national level organizations.

And, this fall, make the standards central to parent activities.    Our new expectations are the right centerpiece of all the start-up activities of a new academic year, from registration to home visits and open houses.  They should get the spotlight at multiple school board, school council, and PTA or P.T.O. meetings.


  1. This might be the wrong post to post this comment, but given the title of "The Missing Piece", I couldn't resist. The suggestions for parent involvement are exactly what is needed, the excitement around last week's historic signing ceremony is justified, however the true missing piece in the standards are: the learner.

    If the standards are designed to measured progress of learning, at which point will be begin including learners in the process. Shouldn't students be able to understand the standards if we expect them to perform?

    If we want the Core Standards to truly succeed then we need to start thinking about how will we communicate with students and address the fact that the newly outlined "grade-level expectations" might not align with what students want to learn and when they want to learn it.

    How will we ever be able to move to a student-centered classroom, if we don't start involving the students in the learning process?

  2. Thomas,

    You're entirely right.

    Tomorrow's post on the Missing Piece will be about "scaffolding" the standards, which means breaking them down into specific steps that are designed for discussion with students. There's a lot of discussion--and I hope a good bit of action--in school systems around the state about the idea, and I think there's a strong chance we'll see real movement in the direction you've pointed out.

    Of course, added public engagement can make the strong chance even stronger, so keep pushing and asking!


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