Nothing New To See Here, Dept.

The thrust of a recent article at “The 74” argues that parents have an erroneous view of how well their children are doing in school:

“Parents rely more on their child’s report card (86 percent) than on annual state test scores (55 percent) to understand whether their child is on grade level. Two-thirds believe report cards provide a more accurate picture of achievement than standardized tests.  “The amount of weight that parents place on report cards, they truly see it as gospel,” said Elizabeth Rorick, deputy executive director of communications and government affairs at the National PTA. “We need to push our parents to look at the overall performance. It’s not just what’s happening in the classroom. It’s important they review their annual state test results as well.”  “

The bottom line for the article is that parents need to be more involved in their children’s school and in understanding what it is that their children are learning or not learning.

To this end, the Washington based non-profit, Learning Heroes, which commissioned the survey had sage advice to give:

Learning Heroes partnered with the National PTA and Scholastic to create a back-to-school action list of ways families can engage and communicate with schools. It gives advice for analyzing state testing data, preparing for parent-teacher conferences, and practicing skills at home.

All well and good I suppose except for the fact that the article appears to omit any culpability on the schools’ part over why the report cards don’t match up with the state test results, or why students need remediation when they get to college. Nor for that matter do they address whether and to what extent the curriculum used for math, as well as the pedagogies employed play a role.

The article resorts to the usual advice of help your kids by practicing skills at home. That parents need to make up for what students are not  being taught in school is not in the province of this particular article, I guess. Math facts, apparently, are to be taught at home, and not practiced in school. Of course, students can get such practice by enrolling in outside learning centers such as Kumon or Sylvan, but why should “The 74” be concerned with that rather inconvenient equity and social class issue?



2 thoughts on “Nothing New To See Here, Dept.

  1. 1. It’s the parent’s fault
    2. it’s the teacher’s fault
    3. it’s the immigrant’s fault
    Of course, there’s no mention about how convoluted the language of report card jargon has become. My bet though, is that my parent’s classroom looked a lot like the classrooms of today in terms of immigrant children. Difference being, report cards back then provided a much clearer picture of the children’s progress. A, B, C, D, Fail. Same for percentage grades. Not perfect, but certainly much clearer than what “meeting expectations” means today.


  2. “…and practicing skills at home.”

    That is educational incompetence.

    We parents got notes telling us to do that. I remember distinctly thinking about what, exactly, do they expect us to do beyond having books in the house, turning off the TV, and showing a love for learning. It became clear that they wanted us in the loop to ensure the learning they no longer did because of full inclusion. And now the academic gap is increasing because all of their in-class leveled groups are filled with kids getting this hidden tracking help at home. This is cover for their incompetence.

    And then my son’s report cards came home filled with pages of rubrics that meant virtually nothing. The rubrics were nonlinear and went from 1-4, but most students got 3s and maybe 2s. Fours were almost impossible to get, so many students didn’t do the work to get 4s. Then they added a level 5 that I was told (I remember it exactly) was for work that was somehow beyond a traditional A+ grade. You had to do something that showed you pushed the learning beyond what was (self?) taught. I’m not making that up.

    There were no letter or number grades in report cards that were numerical averages of individual homework assignments and tests. We didn’t even get the homework and test rubric grades sent home. They went into portfolios that stayed at school! When I asked to see my son’s portfolios, I was told to make after-school appointments with each teacher. Really? Do I set up weekly meetings to get this feedback? Speaking of feedback, K-6 teachers no longer set grade level expectations other than the extremely low state proficiency ones. K-6 has now officially become a NO-STEM zone..

    The biggest incompetent belief they follow is that reaching one’s potential can be achieved by following a natural “trust the spiral” process. In the old days, our parents saw letter grades on our homework and tests that agreed with the quarterly grades on our report cards. That level of expectations allowed us to get to calculus in high school without any help from our parents. Everyone knew that summer school, and worse, staying back a year, was a possibility. It even drove the teachers because they didn’t want too many of their kids to flunk. Perhaps some teachers gave easy grades to push some kids along, but now that’s the standard process – set low expectations and assume that kids will learn when they are ready. PARCC’s highest level “distinguished” only means no remediation in college, and that level of expectation starts in Kindergarten. They now have full inclusion and low expectations, but somehow, everything is supposed to be better in terms of understanding and critical thinking.

    I tell parents to ignore state tests. They are a year late and many tutoring dollars short. What are K-6 teachers who see your children every day, potted plants on the side? Unfortunately, they are typically teachers who know how to calibrate expectations only on the low side of the educational spectrum. This all started to change when my son got to 7th grade when our state required subject certification for all teachers and they knew what high school honors classes (our old college prep level) expected. I specifically remember them telling us parents that their job was to “toughen-up” our kids – apparently after the really, really low expectations of K-6. Now the real world and unnatural expectations take over. Too bad for those kids who now have a big nonlinear change in slope to meet. In math, however, it was all over for many.


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