Stephanie Espinoza wrote this article under a New America Media youth-education reporting fellowship, a program supported by the California Education Policy Fund.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – With the beginning of the school year fast approaching, parents and students alike are gearing up for new classrooms, new teachers and, for many, new struggles. But for one school in California’s Central Valley, meeting those challenges is made easier thanks to two innovative programs.
“A lot of schools have parent conferences and stop there,” says W.A. Kendrick Elementary Principal Luke Hogue. “What we do is at the end of the 1st trimester, we have a mandatory meeting with parents so they see their children’s data.”
Through these Parent Data Nights, says Hogue, teachers are able to engage more directly and, as it turns out, more productively with parents. “We walk parents through five visual charts with substantial background data [on their child’s performance] and give them strategies on how to help,” he adds.
Parents are also given a form with detailed information on how their child is performing in each subject and where they stand in comparison to all other students in their grade level. In addition, Kindergarten teachers send out periodic “pacing guides,” showing parents exactly where their child stands with respect to state standards.
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