In most schools, standardized tests are a fact of life. Yet many parents don’t understand the information that these tests can provide—nor do they know how schools use the testing information. Before the tests are given, parents need to know the answers to the following questions:

  • What tests will be administered during the school year? When will they be given?
  • What is the purpose of these tests? How will teachers or schools use the results of these tests?
  • What other means of evaluation does the school use to measure students’ performance?
  • How should students prepare for the tests?

After test results are in, share the answers to the following questions:

  • How do students in the school compare with students in other school systems? Across the country?
  • How do individual students’ scores stack up?
  • Are these scores consistent with classroom performance?
  • What changes in the educational program are expected based on the test results?


Working with parents of special needs students

All too often, parents and teachers find themselves embroiled in disagreements about how best to help children with special learning needs. To strengthen this relationship so students can achieve:

  • Establish a relationship based on mutual respect and appreciation. An occasional note, informal meeting, or brief conversation will keep parents informed of what’s going on in school.
  • Ask for input. What activities at home have been successful in addressing their child’s learning needs? What has worked to increase their child’s motivation to learn? What has led their child to lose motivation? Parents are experts when it comes to their own children.
  • Communicate often. If a child has had a particularly difficult morning at home, parents should notify the teacher. Conversely, the school should find a way to let parents know if there was a problem during the school day.
  • Focus on the positive. Parents of special needs children may not know what to expect. Teachers can guide parents to maintain appropriate, but high, expectations for their child’s long-term progress.


photo-of-the-day  Photo of the Day

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Chinese pupils at Nanjing Zhiyuan Foreign Language Primary School received a gift - a library bus in Nanjing city, east China's Jinagsu province, 29 December 2017. The library bus is like a school in "Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window," a children's book written by Japanese television personality and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. (Imaginechina via AP Images)





Your school may have a strong guidance department, host a variety of college and career events and maintain a website packed with college and career information—and yet, according to a national survey by Achieve Inc., many parents still feel that schools don’t provide them with enough guidance or information about preparing students for life after high school. What else can schools do?

Consider sending home a survey to find out what topics families are most interested in learning about. Here are some topics to include in your survey:

  • Middle/high school course selection.
  • Higher education options.
  • College entrance requirements.
  • Managing college applications.
  • Writing college essays.
  • College entrance exams.
  • Building skills for success.
  • Paying for college.
  • Filling out the FAFSA.


Student behaviors that improve school climate

In a new report, “Positive School Culture Inventory” by Kickboard, educators and researchers identified several student behaviors that are linked to a positive school culture. They include:

  1. Demonstrating kindness.
  2. Showing pride in one’s work.
  3. Using effective communication skills.
  4. Showing leadership.

Share this list with teachers and encourage them to focus on these behaviors in the classroom and to recognize students who demonstrate them.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Low-income students and students of color are more likely to gain admission to and attend colleges and universities when their parents are involved in their schooling. However, low-income and minority parents often have less access to information about post-secondary options for their children than do higher-income parents. They may not have attended college themselves, and they are more likely to have inaccurate knowledge about college costs and financial aid.

–Sources: M. Baldwin and others, Parent and Community Involvement in a College/Career-Ready Culture: Texas Comprehensive Center Briefing Paper, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory; C. Holcomb-McCoy, “Involving Low-Income Parents and Parents of Color in College Readiness Activities: An Exploratory Study,” Professional School Counseling, American School Counselor Association.


Quote of the Day

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“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Maya Angelou

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Want to connect with the parents of future kindergartners? Consider hosting a series of free playgroups for children between the ages of three and five and their parents. You can use these pre-kindergarten “classes” to help children begin to work on the skills they will need when they start school. The playgroups can also give parents a better idea of what they should be doing at home to help their children get ready for school.

In addition to developing key readiness skills, the children will get to know some of their future classmates as they work together during group activities. Parents will have an opportunity to work with their children—and get to know staff members and other parents.


Build a base of parent volunteers

In most schools, there’s a small but committed group of parents who seem to end up doing most of the work. To expand the base of parents who volunteer in your school:

  • Be specific. Explain volunteer assignments as clearly and completely as possible.
  • Provide a comfortable place to work. Make sure parent volunteers have a friendly space that includes all the supplies they need.
  • Highlight the work of parent volunteers in your school newsletter.
  • Show your appreciation. Throughout the year, give volunteers small gifts or personal notes from students and staff members to thank them for their hard work.


photo-of-the-day  Photo of the Day

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This photo taken Nov. 29, 2017, shows Jeanette Myhre Elementary School classroom aid and interpreter Michael Cruz reading with Admarie Febo Delgado, left, and Abniel Alvirez Rivera while in class at the school district's Welcome Center in Bismarck, N.D. Admarie and Abniel are new students from Puerto Rico. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)





According to a 2017 study from Columbia University, regular digital outreach to parents can improve student achievement and attendance. In the study, middle and high school parents received weekly texts about their children’s absences, grades and missed assignments. The result? An 18% increase in students’ attendance and a 39% reduction in course failures.

In addition to helping parents stay informed, you can use text messages to help parents become more involved with their children’s learning at home. A Stanford University study found that when parents of preschoolers were sent weekly text messages with literacy strategies to practice at home, they were 13% more likely to do so. The weekly texts also improved teacher-parent communication and led to higher student literacy scores!


Evaluate your school’s parent involvement efforts

  1. Provide opportunities for families to lead and share in decision making regarding school policies and programs affecting their children.
  2. Promote clear two-way communication between the school and families about school programs and children’s progress.
  3. Help parents and guardians develop skills that foster positive relationships with their children and support learning at home.
  4. Involve parents, with appropriate training, in instructional and support roles at school.
  5. Help families access the community and support services they need.

Why not ask parents how well your school does these five things? What else could you be doing in each area? 

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to data gathered by Education Week, parents who earn $75,000 or more a year are more likely than parents who earn less to volunteer in school and attend school meetings.


Quote of the Day

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“Parental involvement in schools must move from rhetoric to practice—from telling parents their involvement is encouraged, to guiding them in specific and appropriate ways to assist in their children’s intellectual and social development.”

Center for Family Involvement in Schools, Rutgers University

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Now that students are back from winter break, it’s time to remind parents about the importance of setting limits on screen time. A new study in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture outlines a series of questions to help parents determine if their children have unhealthy screen habits. Post this list on your school website or in your school newsletter:

  • Is it hard for your child to stop using screen media?
  • When your child has a bad day, is screen media the only thing that seems to make him feel better?
  • Does your child’s screen media use cause problems for the family?
  • Does the amount of time your child uses screen media keep increasing?
  • Does your child sneak to use screen media?

If the answer to one or more of the questions is yes, it’s time for parents to make changes at home to promote healthy screen media use.


Encourage students to report hazing incidents

Hazing can’t be properly addressed if students don’t report it. That’s why it is crucial to encourage students to come forward when they have been hazed or when they see it happening to someone else. However, many students don’t report hazing because they:

  • Fear retaliation from the team or group.
  • Don’t want to be labeled as a snitch or a tattletale.
  • Are afraid that they will make matters worse if they take action.
  • Don’t believe adults will do anything to help.
  • Simply don’t know what to do.

Reassure students that the adults at your school will take reported incidents of hazing very seriously and that the school will take appropriate action. Let students know that when they keep silent, a situation could get much worse. Also explain to them that snitching is when a student is trying to get someone into trouble. Reporting is when a student is trying to get someone out of trouble.


photo-of-the-day  Photo of the Day

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Children sled down a hill on a golf course at the Isle of Palms, S.C., Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. A brutal winter storm dumped snow in Tallahassee, Florida, on Wednesday for the first time in nearly three decades before slogging up the Atlantic coast and smacking Southern cities such as Savannah and Charleston, South Carolina, with a rare blast of snow and ice.(AP Photo/Mic Smith)






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