“Thousands of Kids Opt Out of Standardized Common Core Tests Across U.S.”

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.

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

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“Ten Conversation Starters for Parents”

Ten Conversation Starters for Parents is a good post from John Spencer. They include some good questions teachers can ask, too.

Here’s one example:

What was the most interesting thing you learned in school today?

As a dad, I want to hear my kids geek out about something cool they learned in school. It might be fractions or volcanoes or some random historical event. Talking about this helps me find informational texts that they might enjoy. It lets me know what they find fascinating that I might be missing at home. Plus, it sets the tone for the fact that learning is still a blast.

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“Advocates of state’s parent-trigger law seek to expand its influence”

Advocates of state’s parent-trigger law seek to expand its influence is an article in Ed Source describing plans trigger proponents have in our state of California.

I was particularly struck by the comments of Professor John Rogers from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies:

Calling it an “old Wild West metaphor,” Rogers said the law “taps into a real frustration at the core of many parents’ experiences, but it deflects from the real cause of that frustration.”

Instead of shifting power from a “recalcitrant bureaucracy to parents with a holster,” he said developing empowered relationships among parents and educators would be more effective for the entire community.

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NY Times Story On Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parents and Teachers Meet in a New York Minute (or 5 if They’re Lucky) is a New York Times article about…parent-teacher conferences.

Here’s how it begins:

On parent-teacher conference day at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan last week, scores of tense parents bunched together in the lobby, penned in behind yellow caution tape. At exactly 1 p.m., the tape dropped and the grown-ups stampeded up the stairs, jostling to get to the front of the pack.

“It’s like the running of the bulls in Pamplona,” said Randi Amick, the mother of a junior, before disappearing down a hallway.

Don’t miss the comments left about the article, either.

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“Helicopter parents can be a good thing”

Helicopter parents can be a good thing is an interesting article in the latest issue of Phi Delta Kappan.

Here’s its summary:

Helicopter parents get a bad rap. Teachers and administrators should view them as a resource — not a nuisance. By encouraging open communication, teachers can begin to understand the motivations of these parents and find creative ways to connect them with opportunities to promote their students’ academic success and the school’s overall effectiveness.

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“Student-Led iConferences”

Student-Led iConferences is a useful and very practical post by Monica Evon.

Here’s how it begins:

By this time of year, parents have a clear understanding of how their child is doing academically as well as socially. Students need the opportunity to show their parents what they are have been learning in the classroom. Each child needs the opportunity to take a leadership role and teach his/her parent. My fourth graders prepared, organized and led the conference with their parents. Since my students are the experts, they were proud and excited to share their accomplishments. Our district has had student-led conferences for as long as I remember, but this was the first time I truly took the backseat.

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

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“Engage families for anywhere, anytime learning”

Engage families for anywhere, anytime learning is the title of an article in Phi Delta Kappan and written by leaders of the Harvard Family Research Project.

Here’s how it’s summarized:

As society expects children and youth today to explore content-area topics in depth and to develop critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, out-of-school settings are becoming increasingly important to individual learning. These settings, which include libraries, museums, digital media, and after-school programs, are evolving into extended classrooms. In this context, it is no longer appropriate or fruitful for educators to focus family engagement solely on what happens in school; educators must reimagine this concept within the many opportunities now available for anywhere, anytime learning.

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“After Divisive Start, Use of ‘Parent Trigger’ Law Matures”

Though I’m not impressed with Education Week’s headline, After Divisive Start, Use of ‘Parent Trigger’ Law Matures, its recent article shares some pretty useful info on the parent trigger.

I especially liked this excerpt:

John Rogers, an associate professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, predicts the parent-trigger law may have run its course in California.

Mr. Rogers, who co-authored an upcoming research paper about the law, for the journal Teachers College Record, explained that the parent-trigger law was a byproduct of the nation’s crippling fiscal crisis, which ultimately left public schools facing steep budget cuts and angered some parents who already felt their schools were underfunded. Now, California is injecting more money into public schools, and the state’s new funding law requires parental input.

Calling it an “old Wild West metaphor,” Mr. Rogers said the law “taps into a real frustration at the core of many parents’ experiences, but it deflects from the real cause of that frustration.”

Instead of shifting power from a “recalcitrant bureaucracy to parents with a holster,” he said developing empowered relationships among parents and educators would be more effective for the entire community.

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“Family Success at the Heart of Engagement Efforts in Mass. District”

Family Success at the Heart of Engagement Efforts in Mass. District is the headline of an Ed Week article last month.

It describes what appears to be a fairly extensive parent involvement effort at the schools in Springfield, MA.

Here’s how it begins:

If parents in the Springfield, Mass., school system want to help their children with the college-application process, figure out how to balance the family budget, learn to knit, or even become a certified lifeguard, there’s a class for that, thanks to the district’s Parent Academy.

Now in its fourth year, the academy, started by Patricia A. Spradley, the chief parent and community engagement officer in the 26,000-student district, offers more than three dozen courses. Some are geared toward academics, some toward student well-being, some are just for fun.

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“Why should we fear teachers visiting their students’ homes?”

Why should we fear teachers visiting their students’ homes? is the headlined of Jay Mathews latest post at The Washington Post.

Here’s an excerpt:

Whitaker and the other D.C. home-visiting teachers are trained and paid with funds from the D.C. public schools and the Flamboyan Foundation. Using a model developed by educators in Sacramento, the teachers visit in pairs after school or on weekends. They don’t do surprise visits. They don’t make assumptions about kids or parents. They don’t take notes. They listen more than talk.

He also happens to link to a piece I wrote critical of his take on home visits in a previous column.

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“Parent-trigger showdowns loom nationwide”

Parent-trigger showdowns loom nationwide is the headline of a new Hechinger Report article that gives a decent overview of what’s happening around the country related to the parent trigger.

Here’s how it begins:

Lawmakers around the country are gearing up for showdowns against teachers unions and school administrators who are seeking to squash a new round of education bills that would create and strengthen so-called “parent trigger” laws.

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