Here are my choices for the best posts I’ve written on parent engagement in 2014 since June (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here, including My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – So Far):
Here are my choices for the best posts I’ve written on parent engagement in 2014 since June (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here, including My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – So Far):
I have a fairly popular post titled The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers.
I thought it would be useful to put together a different list focusing specially on advice to teachers on this topic related the beginning of a new school year.
Here’s a short list — each post contains links to additional resources:
7 Questions to Ask Parents at the Beginning of the Year is by Elena Aguilar.
Additional suggestions are welcome.
I’m adding this post to my Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.
Conditional Cash Transfers are payments made to families to encourage them to do things like go to doctor appointments, and to children for increased school attendance and higher standardized test scores, and have been in the news lately.
I’ve published a number of posts about them, and I thought readers might find it helpful if I brought them all together:
I’m adding this post to my collection of other “Best” lists on parent engagement.
Here are my choices for the best posts I’ve written on parent engagement in 2014 – So Far (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here):
I’ve shared a number of reports on a recent Migration Policy Institute report on engaging immigrant parents.
I don’t think it shares anything that is particularly new to educators who work with immigrant students and their families, but it does bring a lot of useful information together in one place.
Building on Immigrants’ Strengths to Improve Their Children’s Early Education is by Conor Williams.
The barriers keeping immigrant parents from getting involved in their kids’ education is the headline of a Vox article on the recent Migration Policy Institute report.
It pretty much goes over the same points those other pieces shared – except for how it ended:
But the report doesn’t mention the elephant in the room: it’s harder for unauthorized immigrant parents to get engaged in their kids’ educations. When parents are worried that any contact with a government employee will lead to their deportation, they’re much less likely to show up to parent-teacher conferences or have long talks with Head Start supervisors. That’s especially true when schools make an effort to make unauthorized immigrant parents feel unwelcome, by requiring them to get fingerprinted or show legal ID when they arrive at the school. And it can be exacerbated when federal immigration agents wait outside schools so that they can arrest parents after they’ve dropped off their children.
I’ll add this “Best” list to my other parent engagement-related ones.
The topic of increasing the involvement of fathers in schools has been garnering some attention lately, and I thought I’d bring together some of the previous posts on the topic together.
I was prompted to do so by today’s article in The Washington Post, Schools roll out the red carpet for dads who volunteer.
Coincidentally, I believe tonight’s #PTchat on Twitter was on this same subject, and I’ll a link to its transcript when it becomes available (here it is).
Here are my previous posts:
Prince George’s to discuss how to increase the number of fathers involved in education is an article in The Washington Post.
Dads becoming more involved in their children’s education is a nice article in the Miami Herald that also links to other related pieces.
‘Men Make a Difference’ in Prince George’s County schools is a nice article in The Washington Post.
This is how it begins:
Malik Shakur said he was so inspired by the participation at the Prince George’s County School System’s annual “Men Make a Difference Day” on Monday that he is seriously considering joining the PTSA at his son’s school, John Hanson Montessori School in Oxon Hill.
Shakur, an attorney who is scheduled to be in court later this week, said he planned to clear his calendar after learning during the event that the school was hosting a career day on Friday.
Shakur was one of about 125 fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and others at John Hanson who participated in the annual countywide event, which brings fathers and other male role models into the classroom to promote parental involvement in public schools.
Father-figure engagement making difference at Tahoe elementary school is the headline of a short article in a local California newspaper about a father-involvement program.
What’s intriguing about it is that it is apparently part of a national program promoting father-involvement in schools called Watch D.O.G.S. from The National Center For Fathering. I have heard of neither the program or the Center, but they sound helpful. Let me know what you know about them.
Feel free to make other suggestions in the comments section.
I’ll be adding this list to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.
Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework is the title of an article that appeared a few weeks ago in The Atlantic. It was written by Dana Goldstein.
It describes research shared in a new book, The Broken Compass:Parental Involvement With Children’s Education by two professors which, at least according to Dana Goldstein, questions most the effectiveness of what most of us would typically consider parent involvement/engagement. Based on what The Atlantic article says, this new research apparently disproves most of what you’ll find at “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”
I’m not convinced that everybody else is wrong and these professors are right, but I’ve ordered the book to see for myself what they have found.
The authors followed that up with a guest column in The New York Times with the decidedly unhelpful headline, Parental Involvement Is Overrated.
I’ll be writing my own thoughts on it as soon as I finish reading the books but, in the meantime, here are a few other commentaries written by others:
Inflated Research Claims Can Harm Children: Why “parental involvement” is not a “broken compass.” is a post by Marilyn Price-Mitchell that is also skeptical.
And respected parent engagement expert Karen Mapp recently sent out this tweet:
Broken Compass authors have a piece in today’s NYTimes. Data is not new, conclusions are misleading. Will be writing a response.
— Karen Mapp (@karen_mapp) April 14, 2014
Speaking of tweets, here’s one sent out by researcher/author Alfie Kohn:
Parent involvmt often fails to boost kids’ grades/scores: http://t.co/jDgSUav5li. Unasked (as usual): any effect on kids’ DESIRE to learn?
— Alfie Kohn (@alfiekohn) April 18, 2014
Correlation does not imply causation (parental involvement edition) is from Simply Statistics.
The New York Times published three letters to the editor on the infamous “Broken Compass” parent involvement op-ed and book.
The first one is good and the second one, by parenting researcher and professor Wendy Grolnick, is excellent.
Is Parent Involvement Really a Waste of Time? Recent Polemic versus the Research Record by Mai Miksic is an excellent response to the authors of the Broken Compass book. It was published by the CUNY Institute For Education Policy.
Here’s an excerpt:
“The weak empirical basis of Robinson and Harris’ book means it cannot in any way challenge the decades’ worth of research that has shown positive effects.”
NEA Today had an excellent article on the now infamous “Broken Compass” book questioning the value of parent involvement.
It quotes Anne Henderson, probably THE parent engagement/involvement expert in the United States.
Here’s a portion of what she had to say:
Anne T. Henderson, a senior consultant at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and a leading expert on the relationship between families and schools, agrees and says Robinson and Harris draw upon a limited body of federal survey data to cobble together some rather expansive and faulty conclusions.
While she sees some value in pointing out some of the drawbacks of “garden variety” forms of parental engagement, Henderson cites numerous weaknesses in Robinson’s and Harris’ work, including the absence of any new data collected by the authors, the lack of proper context to a lot of the data (especially around the information provided by parents about their school-related activities) and the obviously flawed use of student test scores as the only measure of success.
Henderson also points out that much of Robinson’s and Harris’ works fails to take into account that correlation does not equal causation.
“What very well may be happening is that parents of kids who are struggling are the parents who are trying to help their kids with homework,” Henderson explains. “So it’s not necessarily the case that the parents’ help is causing the kids to do worse, it’s the fact that the kids are doing poorly that has triggered the parents to help.”
Parental involvement overrated? Don’t buy it is a very, very impressive response to the “Broken Compass” authors dismissal of most types of parent involvement.
It’s written by three college professors — By Todd Rogers, Lucas Coffman and Peter Bergman — and appeared on the CNN website.
I can’t emphasize enough that people should read the entire post, but here’s an excerpt:
Citing their research, the authors of the Times piece, Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris, describe provocative findings that show that students of parents who are very involved in their children’s education perform worse than students of parents who are less involved.
While the authors control for certain variables, their research only implies there is a relationship between parental involvement and student performance. This caveat is important; the existence of a relationship does not tell us what causes what.
Think of it this way: If you had two children, and one was getting A’s and the other C’s, which of them would you help more? The C student. An outsider, noticing that you’ve spent the school year helping only one of your children, might infer that parental help caused that child to earn lower grades. This of course would not be the case, and inferring causation here would be a mistake.
Does Family Engagement Matter? is a response to the now infamous “Broken Compass” book questioning the usefulness of parent involvement.
It’s written by three of the top experts in the field – Karen L. Mapp, Anne T. Henderson, and Nancy E. Hill.
The School Community Journal is a must-read for anyone involved in parent engagement activities, and you can access the new issue online here. I’m particularly impressed with Lee Shumow’s critique/review of the infamous Broken Compass book which leads off the issue.
Jay P. Green, with whom I often disagree (but not this time!), has written an excellent review of the infamous “Broken Compass” book on parent involvement titled Wrong Diagnosis on Homework Help from Parents: Authors find correlation, mistake it for causation.
Here’s how he ends it:
After examining more than 300 pages of The Broken Compass with its dozens of regressions and charts, I know no more about the causal relationship between parental involvement and academic progress than I did before. If the purpose of The Broken Compass were simply to raise questions about this inverse correlation, it might be a fine book. But when the authors and unthinking reporters use it to recommend that parents stop helping kids with homework, they are being irresponsible, no less so than advising sick people to avoid hospitals because they tend to kill you.
I’ll be adding more to this list.
And I’ll be adding this post to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.
I thought readers, and I, would find it useful to review and list my choices for the best posts on parent engagement I’ve written since I posted My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2013 three months ago.
You can also see all my “Best” lists related to parent engagement here.
Here are My Best Posts On Parent Engagement Over The Past Three Months:
I’d like to create a very lengthy list of lessons that require students to engage with their parents and families in a positive way.
I know I’ve previously posted about some, but I need to track them down. I’m also hoping that lots of teachers will send in summaries of successful lessons that they’ve done. I’ll add them to list and, of course, give you credit.
You can find all my parent engagement-related “Best” lists here.
Here’s what I have so far:
Curious Homework: An Inquiry Project for Students and Parents is by Suzie Boss.
Good Teachers Embrace Their Students’ Cultural Background is an article from The Atlantic.
Here’s an excerpt:
Culturally responsive teaching doesn’t mean lowering standards, Irvine says. Take dialect, for example. Teachers need to help students speak and write in Standard English, but they’ll be more successful in that effort if they begin by respecting the way a student and his family speak at home.
Creating a link between home and school can enrich all kinds of lessons. Teachers can ask their students to interview their communities and condense the information into a letter to the mayor. Parents can be invited into the classroom to talk about their work. Students can be asked to think critically about articles and texts, exploring them for signs of cultural bias.
Interactive Homework Spurs Parent Involvement, Study Finds is the title of a useful blog post by Sarah Sparks over at Education Week. Here’s an excerpt:
Homework assignments that require help from family members can get parents more involved in middle school, a time many parents become less visible in school, concludes a new study in the School Community Journal…
…During a seven-week trial during the 2010-11 school year, 192 students in nine 8th-grade classes were given one assignment each week using the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork, or TIPS, program, which includes assignments that require students to discuss concepts they learn in class with a family member to complete projects.
Reader Lori Lee contributes idea:
is a PBL lesson from the Buck Institute where students interview a family member about their life experiences and then create a nonfiction narrative based on a story from the interview. From here students then publish the collection of stories using an online publisher and organize a book launch event to the stores with family and public. I did project last year and it was amazing! I am in the middle of it right now and I still love project!
Maria Caplin contributes this idea:
Every year to start our measurement unit, I don’t assign any math HW except to have the students cook with their parents. Always a huge success. Here is my link.
I published a post titled The Importance Of Telling “Family Stories.” In it, I discussed an article that reviewed a number of studies that found value in parents telling their children about family stories.
The Washington Post wrote a more in-depth piece about one of those studies, and included a pretty useful “Do You Know” series of questions that teachers could easily give to students as an assignment. I love projects that require students asking their parents questions, and this one would be perfect.
@Larryferlazzo I compile a list of family friendly field trips that match our curriculum. I made up a treasure hunt for our local museum.
— Lianne (@Prairies) July 27, 2014
@Larryferlazzo I encourage families to go to parks to identify physical landforms and go geocaching for geo skills.
— Suzanne Blue (@geowanderer) July 27, 2014
As an art teacher, I invite student’s families (and school faculty members) to our critiques at the end of a major unit or project! Students get to know other faculty, especially administration, parents are welcomed into the classroom, and it brings a sense of community to everyone involved!
The Beginners’ Guide to Connecting Home and School is a post from Edutopia that shares some good ideas for joint student/parent learning projects.
Keep Parents Connected in the Middle Grades is a good post at Middleweb that shares a number of good student projects that also involve their families.
The Maine Education Policy Research Institute has just published what appears to me to be a very useful study on parent engagement.
I’ve only had a chance to scan it, but it looks helpful. One section that stood out to me was on student homework projects requiring family involvement. I don’t recall seeing previous research on that topic.
Highbridge Green School students present a project their parents helped design is an article in Chalkbeat NY that appeared last year, but that I just saw. It’s a short and sweet piece about a joint student/parent learning project.
Anyone who’s every listened to NPR is probably familiar with StoryCorps, and I’ve published several posts sharing their resources.
They just unveiled a new free mobile app at the TED Conference that allows anyone to record an interview with anyone and upload it their new site, StoryCorps.me. They have both iPhone and Android versions, and they’re great!
The app provides multiple suggestions for questions, depending on who you are interviewing (you can also add your own). It’s a perfect tool for having students interview their parents, grandparents or other older family members (which also makes it easy to ensure students have parental consent — by the way, their policy states users must be over 13). It’s super-simple to use. Of course, classmates could also interview others, as long as teachers had parental permission.
I’ve written several posts about the inBloom data fiasco — inBloom is the company that’s basically trying to collect, store and share student data and is supported by the Gates Foundation.
I thought I’d put together a quick Best list:
Where inBloom Wilted is from Ed Surge.
Irate Parents Fight to Keep Information on Their Kids Private is the headline of an article about an effort to create a national student data base with inBloom.
Here’s a quote from it:
“But the main issue is this: No one consulted parents as to whether they wanted their child’s data collected or stored this way, just as no one asked them if they wanted their children to be tested to the degree they are,” Naison [Mark Naison, a professor at Fordham University]said.
Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data is a fairly lengthy article in The New York Times about the inBloom data collection system.
Here’s an excerpt:
Yet, for all of inBloom’s neutral-sounding intentions, industry analysts say it has stirred some parents’ fears about the potential for mass-scale surveillance of students. Parents like Rachael Stickland, a mother of two Jeffco students, say that schools are amassing increasing amounts of information about K-12 students with little proof that it will foster their critical thinking or improve their graduation rates.
“It’s a new experiment in centralizing massive metadata on children to share with vendors,” she said, “and then the vendors will profit by marketing their learning products, their apps, their curriculum materials, their video games, back to our kids.”
Your child’s data is stored in the cloud is a new article at CNN about the inBloom data collection system.
Here’s an excerpt from CNN’s article:
Streichenberger says inBloom is providing the “plumbing” to fix school districts’ currently disjointed systems. School districts control the data, though they may share that information with third-parties if they choose.
That promise has offered little comfort to many parents in school districts that use inBloom. Some parents in those districts feel that there’s not enough transparency around the data platform, what data will be stored, and who will have access to it. InBloom says it’s up to the states to determine what data is stored and whether parents have access.
Sprowal says parents were not adequately notified before her son’s school district started loading data on to the platform.
“I think if there was full disclosure, transparency, if they included us in the process, as they were developing it … it would have been fine,” she said. “It would have … put some constraints on it.”
inBloom lost its only remaining customer when New York State withdrew from it.
Here’s an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal:
New York has reversed course to use an Atlanta-based company to store student data for parents and officials to use to track student progress, after the plan triggered privacy concerns and a legal challenge….
“We will not store any student data with inBloom, and we have directed inBloom to securely delete all the non-identifiable data that has been stored,” a statement Wednesday from state Education Department spokesman Dennis Tomkins said.
InBloom was founded in 2013 with $100 million in grant money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. The technology drew early interest from several states, but New York was the only one fully involved.
The Hechinger Report has since written a thorough obituary of inBloom, The fate of big data after inBloom.
I’ve chronicled the ongoing fiasco of the Gates Foundation-founded-and-financed inBloom student data-vacuuming service called inBloom.
As usual, these guys never bothered asking parents and teachers what they thought before they initiated their bright idea and, now that they announced its dissolution, they’re blaming everybody but themselves and their funders.
You can read all about it at these two articles:
InBloom Student Data Repository to Close is from The New York Times.
inBloom to Shut Down Amid Growing Data-Privacy Concerns is from Education Week.
I’m adding this list to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.
, President Obama announced grants to five communities designated at “Promise Zones” that are planned to replicate — more or less — the Harlem Children’s Zone.
I’ve published many posts about the Harlem Children’s Zone — both positive and less than positive — including concerns about parent engagement and how they relate to local institutions. Though I don’t know all the specifics of these five new communities, it will be interesting to see how genuinely involved parents are in their efforts.
First, I’ll a few posts about President Obama’s announcements. Then, I’ll list links to my previous posts:
What Exactly Do Obama’s Zones Have to Do With Education, Anyway? is from Ed Week, and is a must-read.
President Obama Unfurls a New Place-Based Program: Promise Zones is from Non-Profit Quarterly.
Obama Administration Announces the First Five Promise Zone Designees is from the US Department of Agriculture.
Eight southeastern Kentucky counties named “Promise Zone” by President Barack Obama is from the Courier-Journal.
Here are links to my previous posts:
I’ll add list to my collection of other parent engagement related ones….
As most people know, there is a common narrative suggesting that single-parent households can be a cause of many problems affecting children — in and out of school.
I’ve previously posted some articles questioning that view, and a new study has just been published. I thought it would be worthwhile to put them all in one post:
Marriage Promotion Has Failed to Stem Poverty Among Single Moms has just been published at Science Daily. Here’s an excerpt:
In fact, research shows that single mothers living in impoverished neighborhoods are likely to marry men who won’t help them get out of poverty. These men are likely to have children from other partnerships, lack a high school diploma, and have been incarcerated or have substance abuse problems, Williams noted.
Those who do marry usually don’t stay that way. One study found that nearly two-thirds of single mothers who married were divorced by the time they reached 44 years old.
“Single mothers who marry and later divorce are worse off economically than single mothers who never marry,” she said.
Promoting marriage among single mothers may not help their children, either. Recent research by Williams and several colleagues found no physical or psychological advantages for the majority of teenagers born to a single mother who later married.
Rather than promoting marriage, the government should focus on preventing unintended births, Williams said. She found in one study that having a child outside of marriage is associated with negative mental health outcomes among African American women only when the birth was unexpected.
Here are other articles:
What Makes a Healthy Family is an article at the Pacific Standard. Here’s an excerpt:
Lamb explains that, despite their high rates of poverty, “the majority of children raised in single-parent or divorced families are well-adjusted,” even if outcomes are slightly more negative overall than for kids raised in “traditional” families. It’s an open question whether it’s the money or the family structure itself holding back that minority of children of single parents that turn out maladjusted.
Single Parents Aren’t The Problem: Show Me the Numbers: Who’s at home doesn’t affect a child’s education as much as you may think is one of the more interesting article I think you’re going to see onthis topic. It’s written by Professor Ivory A. Toldson and appeared in “The Root.”
Blaming Poverty on Single Parents Is Win-Win for Republicans, Evidence Be Damned is an extensive Atlantic article.
It’s a must-read piece. Here’s an excerpt:
And is where everyone should be screaming from the rooftops: “Correlation isn’t causation!” If you don’t have access to a roof, stand on your desk like you’re in Dead Poet’s Society and bellow, “Just because poverty is more common among the unmarried doesn’t mean it’s a function of being unmarried!” Yell that. Yell that to the heavens!
The New York Times has now published an exceptional article titled Can Marriage Cure Poverty?
I think it’s a “must-read.” Here’s an excerpt:
But even if Washington got rid of all its dumb and ineffective policies to promote marriage and implemented a number of smart ones to do so, it might all be for naught. Some researchers think that marriage — or a lack thereof — is not the real problem facing poor parents; being poor is. “It isn’t that having a lasting and successful marriage is a cure for living in poverty,” says Kristi Williams of Ohio State University. “Living in poverty is a barrier to having a lasting and successful marriage.”
To understand why, it is worth looking at the economic fortunes of the poor in isolation — marriage rates and childbearing out of wedlock aside. Globalization, the decline of labor unions, technological change and other tidal economic forces have battered the poor, with years of economic growth failing to lift their prospects. These forces have inevitably affected young people’s choices, researchers think.
In an economy that offers so little promise to those at the bottom, family planning in the name of upward mobility doesn’t make much sense. “Engaging in family formation by accident rather than by design, you get a story of low-opportunity costs,” says Kathryn Edin, the poverty researcher at Johns Hopkins. “We’ve created the situation where pregnancy is not the worst thing that can happen to you. It can be seen as a path to redemption in an otherwise violent, unpredictable, hopeless world.”
Similar forces might also spur some young couples not to get married, even if they want to. Many poor women opt not to marry the poor men in their lives, for instance, to avoid bringing more economic chaos into their homes. And the poor women who do marry tend to have unstable marriages — often to ill effect. One study, for instance, found that single mothers who married and later divorced were worse off economically than those who did not marry at all. “These women revere marriage, they want to get married,” Williams says. “They aren’t making an irrational choice not to marry.”
Check out The relationship between single mothers and poverty is not as simple as it seems at The Washington Post.
Money, Not Marital Status, Has the Most Impact on How Parents Raise Kids is an article in Slate about a very important study.
Here’s how it begins:
Despite all the attention paid to marital status when it comes to raising kids, a new report from the Council on Contemporary Families finds that, in reality, financial status actually matters more.
You can see all my parent-related “Best” lists here.
I have an extensive “Best” list at my other blog titled A Very, Very Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Bullying.
In addition, I’ve published several posts in this blog about bullying resources specifically for parents, and thought bringing them together in one list would be useful.
You can find all my parent “Best” lists here.
Feel free to make other suggestions…
The BBC has published What should you do if your child is ‘the bully’?
Bullying is parents’ big fear as children start secondary school, survey finds is an article in the Guardian reporting on a recent survey.
Parents say bullying is greater concern than alcohol, while children themselves worry most about making the right friends
Busting parents won’t stop cyberbullies, experts say is from NBC News.
Here’s an excerpt I particularly liked:
Tragedies like Sedwick’s suicide can spark the hunt for a scapegoat, but prosecuting parents isn’t the solution, says Sameer Hinduja, a criminal justice professor at Florida Atlantic University and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “Legislators and politicians jump in and say we’ve got to pass laws, have stronger sanctions. But when you think it through and ask what’s going to deter someone from messing up the same way again, (prosecuting the parents) is not the best way to respond. “
Legal sanctions imposed on parents could pit the child against the parents, Hinduja added. “The child will be in trouble even further, perhaps for getting the parent into trouble,” he said.
Even the most well-intentioned parents cannot police their kids’ social-networking habits around the clock, said Tina Meier, whose 13-year-old daughter Megan committed suicide in 2006 after allegedly being hoaxed and bullied on the social network MySpace by Lori Drew, the mother of one of Megan’s former friends. Drew was found guilty by a federal jury of three computer-crime misdemeanors. In 2009, a federal judge vacated the conviction.
“Is it important for us to hold parents accountable for their children’s actions?” Meier asked. “Yes. But it’s impossible for parents to be there 24 hours a day.”
There are many parents “who truly simply don’t know about it, or who are really trying (to monitor their children’s computer use),” Meier told NBC News.
Casey M., a 17-year-old Internet safety advocate from New Rochelle, N.Y., feels indicting parents for their kids’ online bullying acts will have “an inverse effect” and increase online tormenting. Casey M. is part of the national Teen Angels campaign, which speaks to parents and teenagers about Internet safety and cyberbullying. Group members don’t use their last names when speaking with the media.
“The more that parents try to control what their kids are doing online, the more sneaky kids get, and the less parents know what their kids are doing online,” Casey M. said, adding that she’s never faced serious cyberbullying. “The kids would try to hide things a little more.”
Yes, parents need support and encouragement to monitor and teach their children. I just get very uncomfortable with the emphasis on punishing parents. I’ve previously posted about a number of instances where public officials seem to want to use that as their main strategy to encourage parent involvement — it’s certainly easier than the slow process of building relationships, spending time on encouragement, and leading with our ears instead of our mouths….
Anti-Bullying from the Parent’s Perspective is a useful post from Think Inclusive.
How Do I Know What’s Bullying and What’s Normal Conflict? is a useful article from The New York Times.
Here are my choices for the best posts I’ve written on parent engagement in 2013 — well, at least since April when I published My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2013 — So Far (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here):
There has recently been a flurry of media attention to what is called the so-called “word gap.” It’s the term used to describe the difference in vocabulary development of low-income children and middle-and-high-income children during their pre-school years.
In addition to the media attention, there have been some high-profile efforts at trying to respond to the issue, and that’s where it gets particularly controversial. I thought a “Best” list here on the topic might be useful to readers:
I’d say the best piece that talks about the issue has been written by Esther Quintero at The Albert Shanker Institute. It’s titled The ‘early language gap’ is about more than words.
She followed that up by creating this short video:
Here are some of my previous posts on the topic:
Here are some additional resources:
Too Small To Fail is a project that Hillary Clinton has begun.
The 32-Million Word Gap is by David Shenk.
Can We Disrupt Poverty by Changing How Poor Parents Talk to Their Kids? is from The Atlantic.
We Need a Nuremberg Code for Big Data is from Slate.
Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word is an article and video from The New York Times that gives a pretty good over of research, concerns and potential strategies related to the “word gap.”
It includes discussion about the Rhode Island that’s inserting recording devices into children’s clothing, which I have previously posted about skeptically (though I’ve tried to maintain an open mind).
More non-profits teaching parents to read with children is a post at Ed Source describing programs helping parents to get their children reading early and the research behind the efforts.
“Coaching parents on toddler talk to address low-income word gap” is a pretty interesting report from the PBS News Hour.
I’ve embedded the video below, and you can see the transcript here.
Ed Source reports on a recent visit by Hillary Clinton to Oakland:
Hillary Clinton spoke to a friendly crowd at Oakland’s UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on Wednesday about her new campaign (no, not that one) to get parents to spend more time talking, singing and reading to their young children.
“Brain research is showing us how important the first years of life are,” Clinton said, “and how much a simple activity can help build brains.”
Oakland will be the second city – the first was Tulsa, Oklahoma – to receive a concentrated dose of messaging about the importance of verbally engaging infants and toddlers. As part of the “Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing” campaign, residents can expect a multimedia campaign featuring television commercials, a radio spot, billboards and bus station ads. Local retailer Oaklandish will also be launching a new clothing line for babies that includes onesies that read, “Let’s talk about hands and feet,” and baby blankets proclaiming, “Let’s talk about bedtime.” For every item purchased, Oaklandish will donate one item to a family in need.
Importance of talking to infants now on TV is the headline of a blog post at Ed Source.
It talks about two recent TV shows that have featured the “Word Gap.”
Here’s a clip from one of them:
Quality of Words, Not Quantity, Is Crucial to Language Skills, Study Finds is from The New York Times.
Poor Kids Are Starving for Words is from The Atlantic.
Stop blaming poor parents for their children’s vocabulary is a must-read article by Paul Thomas at The Conversation.
To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents With Tips is the headline of a New York Times article about a new study. It found that sending text messages to parents of very young children (like “Let your child hold the book. Ask what it is about. Follow the words with your finger as you read”) were more advanced academically than those whose parents did not receive them.
I thought that was interesting, particularly since another study that I’ve posted about in my other blog where adolescent students received encouraging texts was deemed a failure (I don’t have time right now to find that link but will add it later). Perhaps parents of very young children are in a more motivated frame of mind? I wonder how this experiment would work with parents of older children?
The New Work of Words is a lengthy article in The Atlantic about…words.
I’m sharing it here because the first quarter has an interesting perspective on The Word Gap.
The New Yorker has just published what I think is probably the best article written on the “word gap.” It’s titled The Talking Cure: The poorer parents are, the less they talk with their children. The mayor of Providence is trying to close the “word gap.”
How do you make a baby smart? Word by word, a Chicago project says is the headline of an article at The Hechinger Report.
Word Gap? How About Conversation Gap? is by Wray Herbert and offers an intriguing “take” on well-known “word gap.”
Key to Vocabulary Gap Is Quality of Conversation, Not Dearth of Words is the headline of an Ed Week article by Sarah Sparks.
Here’s an excerpt:
The “30 million-word” gap is arguably the most famous but least significant part of a landmark study, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young Children, by the late University of Kansas child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley. As the work turns 20 this year, new research and more advanced measuring techniques have cast new light on long-overshadowed, and more nuanced, findings about exactly how adult interactions with infants and young children shape their early language development.
You can see all my parent-related “Best” lists at A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.
Here’s a short and sweet list on topic, and I hope others will suggest additional links.
I’ll be adding list to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.
Parent Jiggernaut Follow-Up: Opting out vs. Opting In is a thoughtful post by Rachel Levy.
Wary of standardized testing, parents are increasingly opting their kids out of exams is from The Washington Post.
“Parents sign petition against use of FCAT” is the headline of a Miami Herald article.
The article begins:
The petition, gaining traction in parts of Florida and around the country, urges education administrators to rely less on standardized tests and use other measures to evaluate students, schools and teachers.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools has instituted 52 new standardized tests, and parents are up in arms about it.
You can read about it in The Washington Post at School district field-tests 52 (yes, 52) new tests on kids.
You can also visit the website of the parents group organizing against them — Mecklenburg ACTS.
‘What we’ve got here is failure to communicate’ is an excellent post by Carol Burris in The Washington Post.
In it, she criticizes many who blame the fact that more and more parents are “opting out” of having their children take standardized tests solely on “communication” issues:
It is all seen as just a failure to communicate. And therein lies the problem. The focus on communication, rather than on a response to concerns, demonstrates a lack of faith in the ability of parents and teachers to understand what is occurring. Parents understand the high-stakes testing rationale. They just don’t buy it. The interpretation of grassroots parental opposition as a “communication failure” communicates arrogance. It is the ultimate “nanny state” response—you do not understand what we know, and what we know and do are best for you.
Turn On, Tune In, Opt Out is an article in The Nation about the growing popularity of efforts by parents to have their children “opt-out” of taking standardized tests.
Chicago Teachers Union urges parents to oppose standardized tests for young kids is an article in the Chicago Sun-Times about a teacher/parent campaign against the pressure of standardized tests:
When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests is an article in the Atlantic, by Alexander Russo, that gives a good overview of the “opt-out” movement.
The Defiant Parents: Testing’s Discontents is an excellent piece in The New Yorker.
Here’s an excerpt:
Parents who complain about testing—particularly affluent, educated ones—are easily derided, as they were by Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Education Secretary, a few months ago, when he described critics of the Common Core as “white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—[find] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.” But parents who challenge the status quo on testing are not motivated by a deluded pride in their children’s unrecognized accomplishments, or by a fear that their property values will diminish if their schools’ scores’ drop. They are, in many cases, driven by a conviction that a child’s performance on a standardized test is an inadequate, unreliable measure of that child’s knowledge, intelligence, aptitude, diligence, and character—and a still more unreliable measure of his teachers’ effort, skill, perseverance, competence, and kindness.
Most States Lack Opt-Out Policies – But Parents Find A Way is a very interesting and useful post by Alexander Russo.
The post gives a very good overview of state laws on “opting out” of standardized tests.
It appears that some schools are making it very difficult for parents to “opt-out” of standardized testing for their child. I’m not sure if this attitude is the best one to take to further parent engagement….
Standing Up to Testing is a New York Times article on parents opting their students out of standardized testing in New York City.
Here’s an excerpt:
This movement of refusal does not evolve out of antipathy toward rigor and seriousness, as critics enjoy suggesting, but rather out of advocacy for more comprehensive forms of assessment and a depth of intellectual experience that test-driven pedagogy rarely allows. In the past year, the movement has grown considerably among parents and educators, across political classifications and demographics.
Here’s an excerpt from Valerie Strauss’ piece at The Washington Post:
The editorial board of a big-city newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, has gone on record as not only supporting the right of parents to have their children opt out of high-stakes standardized tests but also saying they are “right to protest” in this manner.
“Parents have few, if any venues to express their concerns”
The above quotation is from Jose Luis Vilson, who contributed to the New York Times “Room For Debate” forum on Should Parents Opt Out of Testing?
Check out his full contribution and comments from others.
The Middle Ground Between Opt Out And All In is a very thoughtful post by Matthew Di Carlo at The Shanker Blog.
Thanks to Bill Ferriter, I’ve learned about a Georgia school district who had a police officer tell parents who were opting out of state tests that they would and their children would be trespassing if they were on school grounds during the testing and then threatened to ban their kids from a field trip because of their actions.
And there’s a lot more.
Here’s an excerpt:
when it comes to “opting out,” what’s important to me is the idea that you don’t have to agree with its proponents’ solution to acknowledge that they may be correct about the existence of a problem. There are good and bad policy applications happening right now, and it’s important to address the bad ones and build on the good ones.
States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F is an important New York Times article focusing on parent resistance to standardized testing, particularly in Florida:
which tests students more frequently than most other states, many schools this year will dedicate on average 60 to 80 days out of the 180-day school year to standardized testing. In a few districts, tests were scheduled to be given every day to at least some students.
Want your kids to opt out of standardized tests? The Constitution may be with you. is the headline of a useful Washington Post article.
As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out is an article in The New York Times.
Here’s an excerpt:
A new wave of standardized exams, designed to assess whether students are learning in step with the Common Core standards, is sweeping the country, arriving in classrooms and entering the cross hairs of various political movements. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the arrival has been marked with well-organized opposition, a spate of television attack ads and a cascade of parental anxiety.
Almost every state has an “opt out” movement. While its true size is hard to gauge, the protests on Facebook, at school board meetings and in more creative venues — including screenings of anti-testing documentaries — have caught the attention of education officials.
The Washington Post has published an article headlined Some parents across the country are revolting against standardized testing.
Here’s how it begins:
A growing number of parents are refusing to let their children take standardized tests this year, arguing that civil disobedience is the best way to change what they say is a destructive overemphasis on tests in the nation’s public schools.
Thousands of Kids Opt Out of Standardized Common Core Tests Across U.S. is the headline for an article in TIME.
Here’s how it begins:
Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance.
This “opt-out” movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing.
— Katherine Schulten (@KSchulten) May 20, 2015
20% of New York State Students Opted Out of Standardized Tests This Year is from The New York Times.
I’m no big fan of the Common Core Standards, but they are a reality for most of us.
If teachers are ever in situations where they have to explain them to parents, or if there are parents who want to understand more about them, here are some relatively useful resources:
How Educators Can Address Parents’ Confusion About Common Core is from Mind/Shift.
Common Core for ELLs: Ten things parents should know about the Common Core Standards is from Colorin Colorado.
5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About The Common Core is from The American Enterprise Institute.
The PTA has a series of booklets in English and in Spanish. Go here and scroll down to “The Parents’ Guide To Student Success.”
What Parents Need to Know About Common Core State Standards is from Reading Rockets.
Spotlight on the Common Core State Standards – What Do Parents Need to Know? is from Education Northwest.
In Push For ‘Common’ Standards, Many Parents Left Uneducated comes from NPR.
What Should Teachers Tell Parents About The Common Core? is a series of teacher-written commentaries at Education Week Teacher.
A Lesson on the Common Core is a good short and sweat summary of the Common Core for parents. It’s by Jessica Lahey, and appeared in The New York Times.
The official Common Core Standards site unveiled a new design in an effort to make it more accessible and understandable to parents.
NBC Education Nation “Parent Toolkit”
Homework Helper: Math Tips for the Common Core is a series of short videos designed to help parents understand…math and the Common Core.
Common Core math can be a mystery, and parents are going to school to understand it is an article in the Washington Post describing efforts by different schools to help parents…understand Common Core math.
Schools Teach Common-Core Math to Two Generations is an Education Week article discussing creative ways schools are helping parents learn about the new Common Core Math standards.
Be A Learning Hero is a site/organization sponsored by a number of organizations, including the PTA and The Teaching Channel, that has many resources on how parents can support their children. It includes a number of materials on Common Core, particularly on understanding math changes.
Parents try their hand at Common Core math is a useful article from Ed Source.
It shares different strategies schools are using to introduce Common Core math to parents.
Online Videos Aim to Help Parents Make Sense of Common Core is a good Education Week post over a 120 video collection (in English and Spanish) put out by Great Schools to help parents understand the new Common Core Standards.
It looks like you call also see them on YouTube. Here’s their introduction:
You can see all my parent engagement-related “Best” lists here.
is a beginning list of the best infographics about parent involvement.
You can find a bigger version here.
An Infographic by Open Colleges
The National PTA has created a nice infographic titled “Tips For Teachers On Family Engagement.”
You can download the entire infographic here. Here’s a partial screenshot:
I’m going to add this infographic, but I hope a math teacher out there will tell me if it’s accurate or not….
Here’s a visual representation of parent involvement researcher Joyce Epstein’s work:
— Joe Mazza (@Joe_Mazza) July 23, 2014
I think they missed a few important ones, though, so I decided to make my own list. Let me know if you think I’m missing some:
Joe Mazza’s blog, eFace Today
ParentNet Unplugged from Parent Involvement Matters
K-12 Parents and the Public is from Education Week.
You can find all my parent-related “Best” lists here.
Updated: Here are two more articles about the poll:
What parents really think about school reform is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.
AFT: Current Ed. Policies Don’t Work, Are Unpopular With Parents is from Education Week.
Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes is the headline of a Washington Post article . Here are the first two paragraphs:
Most parents with children in public schools do not support recent changes in education policy, from closing low-performing schools to shifting public dollars to charter schools to private school vouchers, according to a new poll to be released Monday by the American Federation of Teachers.
The poll, conducted by Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates, surveyed 1,000 parents this month and found that most would rather see their neighborhood schools strengthened and given more resources than have options to enroll their children elsewhere.
Some might question it impartiality because of the AFT’s involvement, but the results are reflective of past polls done by other groups.
Here’s another summary of the same poll: What Parents Want For Education Policy
I’m turning this post into something of a “The Best…” list, and here are links to posts about previous polls:
On the heels of the poll mentioned at the beginning of this post, another came out contradicting it. However, here are two posts analyzing this new polls lack of credibility:
Associated Press Propaganda: What the AP Survey Really Shows is from Accomplished California Teachers, and links to an exhaustive analysis.