Public education in the United States has never been equal for all students. It appears that those school districts located in wealthy communities have a bit more resources than those in poorer communities. Today more than ever, parents need to step up to the plate and learn how the educational system works. It is imperative that parents no longer leave the decisions made around the education of children solely in the hands of bureaucrats who likely have no children in the school district and/or may not even live in the community.
Below are ten things parents must do before enrolling their child in any school public or private.
1. Get a copy of your state's academic standards. Academic standards are open and public statements detailing what all children should know and be able to do in each state. A typical writing standard, for example, states that all students should be able to pre-write, draft, edit and revise. Students progress through these stages to write, clear, coherent and focused paragraphs and essays. State standards should be available on your state's website and may be divided by grade level or subject.
2. Schedule a time when your child's teacher can review these standards with you.
3. Check your child's homework and class work to see if it aligns with the state academic standards.
4. Ask the principal to hold a parent meeting to discuss the state academic standards and explain how standardized test evaluate what children are learning or not learning in alignment with state standards.
5. Beginning in 2005-06, all schools will measure student achievement yearly in reading and math in grades 3-8, and at least once during the high school years. Ask the teacher and principal if these tests will align with state standards.
6. Discuss with your principal how you as a parent can assist your child in meeting or exceeding the state academic standards. Request that your principal use Title I Parent Involvement funds to offer training for parents interested in helping their children improve academically.
7. Parents will also want to know if teachers receive test results in a timely fashion so that they can be used to improve instruction.
8. What is your school district doing about test anxiety? One of the best ways to reduce test anxiety is to make sure students are well prepared with the concepts, skills and knowledge on which they will be tested.
9. Parent must contact their principal to find out how student achievement levels compare to other districts, and states, by subject and student group.
10. Parent must always contact their state legislator if they are not satisfied with school funding. You put them in office to work for you. It's about time you now hold them accountable.
The reality is that parents are their child's first teacher and if parents are stumbling through the educational maze they will not do a good job of making sure they are providing the best education possible for their child. Parents must know what questions to ask and what answers should be received. No longer can we rest on our laurels, work fifty or sixty hours a week and expect others to assure our student's achievement. Knowledge is power, and that has never been more true than today.
Detra D. Davis is a writer and educational consultant with over 20 years of experience. Author of several e-books, email Detra at: [email protected], or by mail: J. Davis & Associates, P. O. Box 4935, Cary, NC 27513-4935. To learn more visit: http://www.supportingourchildren.com