Students are taking more standardized tests than ever before. When you send home the results of these tests, think about what the scores tell you about each student. That will help you give parents the answer to the question: “What do these scores mean for my child?”

Compare each of your students’ test scores with their daily classwork. Are there any surprises—did any children do significantly better or worse than you expected? For many children, test scores will reflect the student’s classroom performance.

However, if there are significant differences between class performance and test scores, think about what might have caused the change. Look at the subskill scores—sometimes a low score on one subtest can lower the overall score. These subskill scores can also pinpoint problem areas.

 

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Expand your 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.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week. The goal is to change schools, the workplace, families and society through kindness. Encourage your school staff and students to perform kind acts for others—not just this week, but throughout the school year.

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The key to student motivation doesn’t lie in cutting edge technology. Rather, it can be found in the effective use of some basic tried-and-true theories. Share these tips with teachers and families:

  • Enthusiasm. Students are more likely to be engaged and motivated to learn if you show them that you are excited about the material, too.
  • Choice. Allow students the freedom to make appropriate, reasonable choices—about how they will complete assignments and homework, for example.
  • Responsibility. Make sure students understand that along with freedom to make choices comes a responsibility to do their best.
  • Perspective. Communicate a positive message. Tell students what they did right as well as what fell short of the mark.
  • Encouragement. Sometimes a simple “good job” will go a long way with a student who is struggling.

 

Encourage students to 'hang in there'

Students who fail often want to give up and drop out of school. Inspire students and families by sharing the success stories of others who have failed but ended up succeeding:

  • Thomas Edison was thrown out of school because he couldn’t read and do the work.
  • Actors Susan Hampshire and Tom Cruise couldn’t read because of their dyslexia.
  • When Bob Dylan performed for his classmates at a high school talent show, they booed him off the stage.
  • George Washington was unable to spell throughout his life, and his grammar was very poor, too.
  • Albert Einstein was thought to have been simple minded. He found schoolwork—especially math—difficult.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston S. Churchill

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The importance of regular school attendance cannot be overstated. So why do students miss school? Conduct a quick online survey to find out. Share a list of common reasons students are absent or tardy during the school year and ask parents to indicate which reasons apply to them. The list could include:

  • My child does not feel safe going to and from school.
  • My child has poor relationships with teachers and/or other students.
  • My child has been ill.
  • My child has not completed homework.
  • My child is sometimes needed at home to care for a family member.
  • My work schedule makes it difficult to get my child to school.
  • Family trips and vacations.
  • Cultural and religious holidays.
  • Medical and dental appointments.

 

graphic image with quick survey text

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A love of learning can improve attendance

Students who are successful academically and enjoy learning are more likely to want to attend school. To promote a love of learning throughout your school community:

  • Feature an article linking the love of learning to student attendance in your school newsletter and on your website.
  • Highlight the love of learning theme on your school marquee, on bulletin boards, and in handouts included in weekly take-home folders.
  • Identify barriers to students’ love of learning and share strategies to help students who struggle academically.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month. Share some self-care strategies with staff, students and families that can help boost self-esteem and overall mental health.

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According to a 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.

 

Five ways to reach parents in a digital world

The digital age allows schools to foster parent involvement in a variety of new ways. Here are five to try:

  1. Use social media to keep parents informed about school events and news. Use popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus. In your posts, include a link that will take parents to your school website.
  2. Create online volunteer sign-up forms so it’s easy and convenient for parents to volunteer.
  3. Post videos of teachers providing guidance on how parents can help with certain assignments.
  4. Use online conferencing tools to meet with parents when face-to-face meetings aren’t possible.
  5. Share videos of past family nights and other school events to encourage more parents to attend. Post them on your website or send links through social media.

 

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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Studies consistently show that a positive home environment contributes to student success at school. That’s why it’s important for schools to share information about effective discipline with parents. Remind parents that:

  • Regular schedules and routines, such as scheduled homework time, bedtime and meals, help children develop the independence and self-discipline they need to succeed in school.
  • Effective discipline begins with establishing clear rules and consequences—and enforcing them consistently.
  • Children perform better when they know what is expected of them. When parents set high, yet reasonable expectations, children are more likely to meet those expectations.

 

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Empower bilingual parents to help with homework

While many parents have questions about how best to help their children with homework assignments, bilingual parents often wonder which language they should use to provide that help. Many parents who speak English as a second language want their children to learn English as quickly as possible. They believe that the best way to make that happen is to provide all instruction (including help with homework) in English.

Researchers say this is not the case, however. According to the experts, students who become proficient in their native language first are more likely to then become proficient in English.

Encourage parents to work with their children in their native language and explain why that is important. Then, provide them with the same clear suggestions that you would provide to any English-speaking parent. (If possible, identify other parents in your school who can serve as informal mentors to bilingual parents.)

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Research shows that family-school partnerships can play a significant role in improving students’ social and emotional skills.

S.M. Sheridan and others, “A Meta-Analysis of Family-School Interventions and Children’s Social-Emotional Functioning: Moderators and Components of Efficacy,” Review of Educational Research, American Educational Research Association.

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