Awhile back my fellow blogger, Chris, mentioned to me that she showed the SBAC practice test to parents at a PTA meeting. As I understood it, parents had a chance to look at how CCSS would be assessed and discuss the rigor presented within SBAC’s questions. I loved this idea.
And then, I went to a national convening of teachers, parents, and community members that focused on setting achievement levels for SBAC, based on pilot responses. There, I heard a National PTA representative talk about how much of the “teacher talk” and terminology being used at that meeting was, for lack of better words, going over her head. This was a highly-educated and incredibly-involved parent that was struggling to understand exactly what was being discussed.
I’ve been proud of myself for years for posting my learning targets in my classroom. I took it one step further and started listing standards and targets on my weekly newsletters to families and in my weekly homework packets. And just this year, I got a listserv going for parents in my classroom and have been experimenting with different ways to write about standards electronically to parents. But who am I kidding? Listing 2.OA.3, Evidence 1, with a DOK 2 isn’t helpful to anyone (That exact listing is just an example for exaggeration, but you get the point). Honestly, that’s not helpful to ME at a glance.
At the moment I heard the confusion about achievement levels from this incredible activist for students, I decided something needed to be done to help families understand exactly what is expected of their students when it comes to the Common Core. So those ‘proud’ feelings … Yes, out the window. There’s no point in spending time communicating standards with families that come across in a somewhat inaccessible way. Of course, I’m still listing standards on newsletters and sharing them in class, but I’m focused on what kids need to be able to do (I can statements) and looking for ways to make sure the standards is comprehensible.
My solution, for the moment being, was to host a “Common Core Night for Families.” I invited all of the families in my school. I did a 30 minute presentation on what standards and CCSS are, how CCSS is assessed, what SBAC looks like, resources for helping students at home, and ended the evening with 30 minutes of time explore SBAC’s practice tests and other parent resources.
The outcome? No acronyms went without explanation. Parents were interested in exactly what kids were expected to be able to do. The evening was well-received. I found some pretty great resources out there to help families help their kids. I’ll be back to share those with you later this week.
In the meantime, what ways have you found helpful to share information regarding CCSS with families?
I grew up here in Western Washington, wanting to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. As the oldest child in my family, I had plenty of opportunities to "practice" teaching my younger siblings. I enjoyed this. They may not have. :) When I'm not working, I enjoy outdoor activities with my husband and our two Australian Shepherds (whom are far too spoiled for their own good!). I also love spending time with my family, being an auntie (to the cutest kids ever to grace this planet!), hosting dinner parties for friends, crafting, taking photographs and shopping.