“What Parents and Educators Want from Assessments”

What Parents and Educators Want from Assessments is the title of an Edutopia blog post today from Anne O’Brien.

It’s about a recent report on assessment, which I’ve previously posted about — see “What Parents & Educators Want from Student Assessments.”

Anne makes some very interesting points. It’s worth reading the entire post, but here are a couple of excerpts:

survey commissioned by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and conducted by Grunwald Associates earlier this year looked at the views of parents, teachers and district administrators on assessment in education — and found that in many ways, the views of all three stakeholders are aligned…

The survey also found that parents, teachers and administrators share similar views on the perceived value of different kinds of assessments.

After providing definitions of formative, interim and summative assessments to respondents, all three groups of stakeholders found formative and interim assessments more aligned to their priorities than summative. For parents in particular, formative and interim assessments provide the actionable information about their child’s progress that they crave, as well as having what they believe to be a greater positive impact on instruction. Teachers and district administrators also find these assessments more valuable than summative.

Formative and interim assessments also provide feedback in a timeline consistent with what parents want. Sixty-seven percent of parents completely or somewhat agree that formative and interim assessment results are delivered in a timely manner (compared to 50 percent for summative results). If assessment results take more than a month to reach parents, 43 percent of them consider the results no longer useful or relevant.


“The Power of Family-School-Community Partnerships”

The Power of Family School Community Partnerships: A Training Resource Manual is a pretty big packet, including a PowerPoint, from the NEA Priority Schools Campaign. Here’s how they describe it:

Drawing upon decades of research, the Manual provides simple, but provocative, strategies for uncovering what gets in the way of partnering and outlines clear paths for creating partnerships that support student and school success. The Power of Knowledge, Communication, Partnerships, Culture, Families and Communities in Academics, and Capitalizing on Resources are all roads which lead to effective collaboration, communication, and mutual respect—all essential elements for sustaining a web of support around priority schools and all schools.

“Parent Partnership Solutions”

Parent Partnership Solutions is a useful new article from the NEA Priority Schools Campaign. Here’s an excerpt:

In a recent Parenting magazine and National Education Association (NEA) survey of public school parents and educators, both groups categorized their relationship with the other as “open,” but they also reported significant obstacles to forming true partnerships. But for each partnership challenge revealed by theParenting/NEA survey, there is an innovative NEA affiliate- or member-led solution.

We’ve outlined six of the most common communication challenges reported by respondents, along with field-tested solutions to solving the challenges.

It’s worth checking out the challenges and their suggestions for solutions….

#PTchat 8/1/12 – Principal As Family Engagement Deal-Breaker

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

Each year, schools have the opportunity to engage and re-engage families in the education of their children. The success of these efforts depend on many things including but not limited to current and past strategies put in place, leadership, current and past relationship with family and community stakeholders, access, fear, socio-economic status and school/district policies in place. However, if the building principal is not fully invested in ongoing relationship-building and differentiating for the needs of the school families, the best plans will fail and any home-school advancements will be limited at best. The school leader is the key player to best practice family & community engagement at your school.

During this Wednesday night’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat), parents, teachers and leaders will discuss the following six keys for success. Join us at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST for a lively discussion with the creation of a Google Doc for school leaders to use in planning for the new school year. 

According to the CCS Principals Share What Works in Community & Family Engagement study, the following six keys to community engagement were identified as a guide for school leaders in engaging school families. 

1–Know Where You’re Going

Create a vision of what your school should look like and develop a plan for how to get there. Begin by seeking input from school staff, families, partners, and community residents. Any vision must incorporate the diverse interests of all members of the school and community. Make sure that the vision’s goals and objectives are broadly owned.

2–Share Leadership

Invite those partners from the community who share your school’s vision to also share resources, expertise, and accountability for targeted objectives. Work deliberately with staff, families, and the community to reach established goals.

3–Reach Out

Learn about the community and become a visible presence in it. Listen to what families say they want—not just what others think they need. Respond honestly. Make changes that advance the school’s vision.

4–Don’t Ignore the Elephant in the Room

Acknowledge and address issues of race and class and define diversity as a strength. Create opportunities for honest conversations about differences from the earliest stages of vision building. Distinguish between assumptions and facts.

5–Tell Your School’s Story

Know how to make your school’s vision come alive. Use stories and data to engage all kinds of community groups in conversations about why public education matters and what they can do to help. Create the political will to support school efforts.

6–Stay on Course

Only engage in partnerships that are demonstrably aligned with your school’s vision, goals, and objectives. Regularly assess your progress. Focus on long-term sustainability.

New to Twitterchats? 

After logging on to Twitter, visit Tweetchat (http://www.tweetchat.com) and simply enter “ptchat” in the box at the top. Follow along and participate as you as much as you like to join others around the world in this weekly chat. We look forward to engaging your unique and important parent and/or educator perspectives.  Past #PTchats have been archived here. 

New “Brief” On Family Engagement From WestEd

WestEd has just published a short “brief” on family engagement.

I’d say its list of suggestions is not very strong. However, I do think its analysis of dividing family engagement into three kinds is useful. They describe them as:

* Random efforts are offered in piecemeal,
without a systematic, intentional goal or design.
These efforts are typically organized around activities
that attract parents to the campus.

* compliance–driven activities are
broad in scope and aim to attract families to the campus,
but they also serve to meet the compliance demands
and responsibilities required by funding sources and by
state and local education agencies.

* Student–Centered family engagement, the third and
most effective category, is strategic, research–based,
and data–driven, demonstrating a deep understanding of
the community the school serves. Within this category,
the school’s efforts to engage families aim to focus on
individual students’ learning and performance needs.

Irony Alert — Walmart Sponsors Concert To “Salute Teachers” & Support Anti-Teacher “Parent Trigger” Movie

It’s a cliche, but sometimes truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction.

Walmart is sponsoring a concert to “salute teachers” and benefit Teach For America, where they’ll also show scenes from an upcoming anti-teacher movie on the “parent trigger.”

I’ve previously written several posts about the movie, and here’s the trailer:

Thanks to Leoni Haimson for the tip on the concert.

“Nevada PTA Sets Example on Male Engagement”

Nevada PTA Sets Example on Male Engagement is a useful post over at Education Week. Here’s how it begins:

Making fathers and male family members feel welcome in public schools can have a powerful impact.

After a concerted effort by the Nevada PTA to engage men in the education of their children, grade point averages rose and disciplinary cases decreased by more than 50 percent, according to the Nevada PTA.

These and other outcomes are the reasons Nevada PTA received the National PTA MP3-Male Participation Award—a national recognition that honors a state PTA for significant strides in the recruitment and engagement of men in education.

Stealth Parent Trigger Effort In Washington State

I just saw this tweet from Ken Libby:


Washington State is preparing to vote on an initiative to support the creation of charter schools, an effort that has been voted down three times in the past.

Here’s an excerpt from an article about the initiative, being bankrolled by folks like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and John Walton:

In addition, I-1240 enables an existing public school to be converted to a charter school if the applicant has majority support of the parents or of the teachers. The resulting charter school would not pay rent to the public school district that owns the facility.

Thanks to Ken for highlighting this point….

Teacher’s Union Convention Considers Support For Making Home Visits



Carrie Rose, the extraordinary and tireless Director of the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project is at the Detroit convention of the American Federation of Teachers.

She let me know that the St. Paul affiliate (read more about their work at St. Paul teachers visit students’ homes in search of common ground) has submitted a resolution to the union’s education issues committee supporting home visits. Here’s its text:

Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project

Whereas, with attacks on teachers and our union, and on the 99%, it is more important than ever that we find common cause with the parents of our students;

Whereas, fighting back requires developing relationships that lead to greater power to affect change;

Whereas, home visits have been proven to end the cycle of blame between families and school staff by building trust and respect;

Whereas, the increased communication, trust and support between families and teachers via home visits results in increased student attendance, increased student achievement, decreased suspension and expulsion rates and decrease vandalism at the school site;

Whereas, home visits provide unique and meaningful opportunities for cross cultural learning that can better engage families, staff, and students in the educational experience;

Whereas, decades of research shows that when parents and teachers work together, students do better academically and

Be it resolved that the AFT work with the nationally recognized Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project (PTHVP); a voluntary but compensated program with values supported by AFT, to educate our locals and spread the implementation of PTHVP home visit model.

My support for the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project is well-known (see The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits), so I hope the resolution moves forward!

“Parent Trigger Fires Again”

Parent Trigger Fires Again is a very good commentary by Diane Ravitch on the recent parent trigger court ruling.

She brings together information from several different news sources, including info I didn’t know, including this:

And the ruling ignores the clear language of the law, which does allow parents to remove their names from a petition: The language in the “Final Statement of Reasons” on the Parent Empowerment Act states, “Nothing in these regulations precludes a parent/guardian from withdrawing his/her signature from a petition at any time,” according to the Victorville Daily Press, the local daily newspaper.

Southern California Parent Trigger Saga

I’ve previously posted about the rejection by the Adelanto School Board of a parent trigger petition because 100 parents said they were tricked into signing them.

A judge ruled today that parents can’t rescind their signatures, and that the parent trigger effort can go forward.

The district is expected to appeal, but hasn’t made a decision yet.

Whether or not a judge says parents can legally rescind their signatures, he can’t force parents to send their kids to a charter school that Parent Revolution sets-up. So with so few parents actually supporting the creation of a charter school, it’s doubtful that they will be successful in making a charter school “pencil out.”

This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter

Guest Post By Joe Mazza

“Helping Families Cope with Tragedy”

This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those dealing with the horrific Colorado theatre shooting that occurred this past Friday night. Many lost their lives and were injured physically and emotionally as a result. In times like this, schools can offer a great deal of support for families.

During this week’s #ptchat our conversational goal is to provide parents and teachers with as many strategies to as possible in supporting students and families during the hardest of times. During the chat, we’ll use our tweeted ideas to develop a shared Google doc for schools to use/update throughout the school year.  A copy of our resource/idea document will also be sent to Aurora area schools to support them as they prepare to welcome students back to school who directly or indirectly will have experienced a horrific tragedy as a community.

Join us this Wednesday, July 25th at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST as parents and teacher build a working document to help schools and families deal with sudden tragedies.

New to Twitterchats?

After logging on to Twitter, visit Tweetchat (http://www.tweetchat.com) and simply enter “ptchat” in the box at the top. Follow along and participate as you as much as you like to join others around the world in this weekly chat. We look forward to engaging your unique and important parent and/or educator perspectives.  Past #PTchats have been archived here. 

This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter

Guest post by Joe Mazza

Engaging Grandparents & Family Friends in Our Schools

Every child’s “home” is different. When I was growing up in the early 1980s in a middle class suburb of Philadelphia, I remember seeing my grandparents several times per week, and even spent weeks at a time with them. My grandparents were instrumental in supporting my parents in their childcare needs while they worked to give my brother and I what we needed and more as children. I learned many things from them including the how to enjoy myself on vacation, how to camp and fish – life skills I hope to instill in my own children and grandchildren.

Last summer, EdWeek’s Sarah Sparks wrote a piece that shed light on a growing trend of grandparents as the main parents for more and more children.

Today, some 7.8 million children live with at least one grandparent in the household as of 2009, up from 4.7 million in 1991, a 64 percent jump, and such children make up a larger share of the population as well. Grandparents are the most common child-care providers for families after parents, particularly for young children. The Census Bureau also found the average time children spent in their grandparents’ care also increased, from 13 hours a week in 2005 to 14 to 16 hours per week in 2006.

With different-looking “homes” from family to family, as parents and teachers we must continue to differentiate for these differences, and meet other parents AND grandparents where they are.

Join us this Wednesday, July 18th 9PM EDT / 6PM PST for Parent-Teacher Chat #ptchat as we dig deeper into these trends and provide strategies and resources for schools and parent groups in meeting these challenges.

“Let’s Read Them a Story! The Parent Factor In Education”

“Let’s Read Them a Story! The Parent Factor In Education” is a new book from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The link will take you to a free PDF version of it.

The book is pretty impressive — good statistics, great cartoons from The New Yorker, and excellent advice for how parents can help their students succeed academically. It’s a bit weak on advice for teachers, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Nevertheless, I’m adding it to The Best Overviews Of Parent Engagement.