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Do Parents Really Know How Their Students Are Doing?


It’s happening again and again - parents are stunned and shocked when they receive test scores and reports from teachers about their students.


Parents send their kids to school expecting them to learn how to read, write, and calculate with problem-solving skills. But now they’re blaming the education system for the failure.


The disparity is so bad that 90% of parents said that they think their child is achieving above grade level, but the fact is that only about 25% really are. Parents feel like they’re being accurately communicated with and understand their children’s achievement levels, but are shocked when test scores arrive.


Teachers know better, indicating that only about 60% of parents really make an effort to understand where their child stands academically. 60%. That’s a failing grade, by all accounts.


Can we bridge this gap with more accurate and comprehensive communication?


How should we implement change? Here are some things to consider.


  • Report cards. Sadly, As and Bs do not mean grade-level achievement. Perhaps we need a split-level grade - one that indicates soft-skill achievement and effort, while the other denotes technical quantitative achievements.

  • At-Home Action. If parents don’t think there’s a problem, then they assume all is well. Teachers can take more of a proactive approach by asking parents to email them for a check-in so that they aren’t limited to biannual teacher-parent conferences, progress reports, or report cards. They won’t know where to help if we don’t tell them.

  • Inform and Set Expectations. When we inform parents that there is an issue, follow it up immediately with active solutions that they can try with their student, setting clear expectations for each member of the student’s education team.

  • Frequent Check-Ins. Teachers already have a lot on their plate, but if they could divide their classes into groups, and then send home weekly or biweekly status reports, parents would feel more in the know and become active members of their child’s education.

  • Beginning-of-the-Year Syllabus for Parents. Give parents the plan. Let them know where you should be when. Show them the expectations and when/how you will assess. And give them a set of questions they can always ask you to initiate a check-in.

  • Resources. Each parent should have access to solutions to support their student, with the best place being the school’s website. Information about tutors, homework clubs, summer school, activities, additional programs, and other resources for help should be readily accessible and encouraged by everyone at the school.

It’s time for a paradigm shift in communication, one of the simplest and easiest ways to support each and every student. What is currently happening in most schools is clearly not working. From elementary schools offering daily folders that go home with the child to high schoolers left to their own devices, parents clearly need to be looped in earlier, more frequently, and with depth of understanding, with administrative support behind the teachers making an effort to do so.


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