“Why ‘parental involvement’ is not a ‘broken compass.’”

I’ve written a couple of posts skeptical of claims made by authors of a new book on parent involvement called The Broken Compass, with the most recent one about their op-ed piece in The New York Times on Sunday.

Inflated Research Claims Can Harm Children: Why “parental involvement” is not a “broken compass.”
is a post by Marilyn Price-Mitchell that is similarly skeptical.

And respected parent engagement expert Karen Mapp recently sent out this tweet:

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Want To Organize A “Parent Camp” At Your School?

I’ve previously posted about the idea of a “parent camp,” and now have learned that there is a site full of resources to help people organize their own.

The site is called #PARENTCAMP: An Unconference For Parents & Educators, and here’s how it describes itself:

The ParentCamp experience, by design, is a hybrid “un-conference” opportunity for parents and teachers to come together and model the four core beliefs highlighted in Beyond the Bakesale. The experience levels the playing field, putting all stakeholders in a circle for actual, face-to-face discussion about what is best for kids. It’s important to understand the difference between a traditional conference and the un-conference feel we worked to bring to ParentCamp.

On Saturday, April 27, 2013, @KnappElementary hosted the first Parent Camp “unconference” for parents and educators. It’s called an unconference because the event relies upon the expertise and perspective of the entire room, not just the main presenter like the typical stand and deliver conference. Every adult within the session brings an important and unique perspective to contribute to sharing strategies and ideas to benefit student learning, teaching and parenting.

There are “discussion leaders” in each session who set the tone for collaborative dialogue led by teachers, parents, school and community leaders. Sessions are geared toward elementary, middle and/or high school parents.

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A Parent-Teacher Conference Without Numbers

Two recent posts by parents at other blogs both made the point that they are tired of having the focus of their conversations on measuring their children by numbers.

In What parents don’t want to hear at parent-teacher conferences, Journo Adviser says:

When my wife and I sat down at our daughter’s 5th grade parent-teacher conference last week, we hoped to get a sense that the teacher understood our daughter and her strengths and weaknesses. But we didn’t.

Instead, the teacher provided us with a litany of numbers and test results the school and the education-testing industry use to define our daughter and her education.

And, in EduSanity: The No Number Parent-Teacher Conference Challenge, Jason Endacott begins this way:

I met with my sons’ teachers yesterday for parent teacher conferences. Both of their teachers are amazing in their own unique ways, but they share a common love for young people that long ago convinced me that my boys were in good hands.

I started with Cooper’s second grade teacher and after exchanging the usual pleasantries, we sat down at the little table where my adult knees didn’t quite fit and I told her I wanted to issue a friendly challenge.

“Let’s discuss Cooper’s progress in your class without using a single number that you did not generate.”

I’m adding both to The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences.

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“A Recipe for Home Visits: 1 Afternoon, 2 Neighborhoods, 4 Families & Frijoles”

A Recipe for Home Visits: 1 Afternoon, 2 Neighborhoods, 4 Families & Frijoles is a nice post by Jessica Cuthbertson.

Here’s an excerpt:

With the help of a multilingual colleague, a teacher workday, and a few phone calls, we visited four families in two different neighborhoods over the course of an afternoon. We intentionally selected families who were unable to make the last round of parent/teacher conferences; families we don’t see at school functions, not because they don’t care, but because of complicated work schedules or graveyard shifts, transportation issues, language barriers, or a combination of obstacles.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits.

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“Schools central to Promise Zone anti-poverty strategy”

Schools central to Promise Zone anti-poverty strategy is a good overview written up at Ed Source.

It also reflects the questions I have about how seriously the role of parent – and community — engagement has played — both at the original Harlem Children’s Zone and in the expansion program. As I’ve written before (you can see those posts in My Best Posts On The Harlem Children’s Zone & Other “Promise Zones”) they seem to often view families as “clients,” and not “partners.”

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Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial On “Opting-Out”

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.

I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children.

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“Questioning Parental Involvement”

Questioning Parental Involvement is an excellent short post by Walt Gardner at Education Week.

He provides some very good critiques of a new book and research about parent involvement that I posted about a few days ago — New Book & Research On Parent Involvement, & It’s Potentially Very Unhelpful.

Here’s an excerpt from his post:

Yet I wonder if using test scores as the primary basis for the study’s counterintuitive conclusion is misleading. Test scores certainly matter, but they do not allow valid inferences to be made about non-cognitive outcomes, which are every bit as important in the final analysis. For example, students may not perform well on standardized tests for a particular subject and yet still retain a lifelong love of the subject because of the attitude instilled in them by their parents. Conversely, students can post impressive test scores for a particular subject and hate the subject because of the excessive meddling by their parents.

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“8 Tips for Reaching Out to Parents”

8 Tips for Reaching Out to Parents is a very good list of suggestions by educator David Cutler that has been published by Edutopia.

Here is one of his suggestions:

6. Call Home to Report Good News

Parents rarely receive a positive call home. Twice a semester, I make a point to call and tell them how impressed I am with something their student did or said. It surprises me when parents nervously answer the phone, as if a student did something wrong. They are all the more relieved and proud when I have just good news to report. These calls let parents know that I care as much about recognizing success and improvement as I do about spotting struggle and weakness. These calls also reassure parents that I’m not out to make life more difficult for their child, that I’m fair in my assessments and feedback, and that I genuinely want to see students succeed.

I’m adding the entire post to The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers.

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“N.J. Lawmaker Wants Parent Involvement Included in Teachers’ Reviews”

Last week, I wrote about a Well-Intentioned, But Odd & Unworkable Effort To Incorporate Parent Involvement In New Jersey Teacher Evaluations.

Now, Education Week has written a piece on the same issue titled N.J. Lawmaker Wants Parent Involvement Included in Teachers’ Reviews.

Here’s a short excerpt that describe its possible impact:

It isn’t clear how (or whether) this information would affect the student-achievement component of students’ scores; the bill itself doesn’t say. But presumably, a teacher who had to deal with very uninvolved parents might get some kind of protection from a bad evaluation score.

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California PTA Trying To Bounce Back From Election Fiasco

The California PTA made some horrible miscalculations leading to the November, 2012 elections (see California PTA Sets Back Parent Engagement Efforts In State) and, though they have a long way to go, it appears to me they are making some good moves to rebuild their credibility.

They seem to be having some success with a School Smarts program, though I think it can be improved.

They are also working on taking advantage of parent involvement requirements in the new California school funding law. You can read about what the present chair of the California PTA has to say about that effort at a new post in Ed Source.

So, it appears they are on the road back to relevancy. With luck, they learned the right lessons from their mistakes in 2012.

I hope so, because we need them…..

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“Research Review Gives Thumbs Up to Community Schools Approach”

Research Review Gives Thumbs Up to Community Schools Approach the headline of a post at Education Week.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the wake of newly elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to open 100 community schools, a report released Tuesday finds promise in this type of educational intervention. The study, supported in part with a grant from an organization founded by de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, concludes that research and theory support the concept of community schools that seek to boost academic performance by offering mentoring, counseling, healthcare, and other wraparound services that extend well beyond the classroom.

The report itself, unfortunately, says very little — if anything — about the importance of parents being involved in developing plans on how community schools can be developed. Of course, that’s a shortcoming of most, though not all, community school programs.

I’m still adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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Newark: The Model Of How NOT To Do Parent Engagement (& A Whole Lot Of Other Ed-Related Things)

I’ve previously published a number of posts about the ed-insanity going on in Newark — including, but not limited to, parent engagement efforts.

Here’s the latest from Bob Braun in Cami to Newark parents: Don’t worry, we know best:

Pity the parents of Newark’s public school children. Many are unsure where their children will attend school in the fall. They’ve had to fill out application forms and hope they get their first choices in an ever-changing program called “One Newark.” For many, if their first choice was a neighborhood public school, they’re out of luck. Now comes a new insult—if they want to know how their children were picked for this school or that, they can just forget it. That’s secret information. They’re not allowed to know.

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A “Parent Learning Walk” Is An Interesting Idea

Chalkbeat shares highlights from a letter New York City Chancellor Carmen Fariña recently sent to principals. It runs thirteen pages, but this particular excerpt caught my idea. It seems like an interesting idea:

At M.S. 319 Maria Teresa in Manhattan, Principal Ysidro Abreu and his parent coordinator host a monthly “Parent Learning Walk.” They start each session by discussing the elements of good instruction and then let parents observe their kids in the classroom. Afterward, parents complete a survey to assess the learning environment, noting such things as whether students did the majority of the talking in class, referenced text to explain their thinking, and asked for help when they got stuck. I love this model because it gives parents a continuity of purpose—and the tools they need to become true partners in their children’s education.

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