Parent Action Page
“A Way To Change The Balance”

 

The urgency of the times challenges parents to become catalysts, positive change agents, who are willing to “ jolt them (teachers and administrators) into a moment of extraordinary discomfort with this simple but profound question:

"Is it working …for your children?

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THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF PARENTS TAKING ACTION AND PROMOTING EFFECTIVE TEACHING

To feel the dynamic thrust and innovative potential in education, see The Partnership of 21st Century Leadership State Initiative http://www.p21.org/ and view the breathtaking resources they have produced for parents, teachers and policymakers. The Partnership of 21st Century Skills, “working in concert with 16 states is committed to fusing the 3Rs and 4Cs - critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation within standards, assessments and professional development programs”. Follow this by viewing famed director, Georg Lucas’ “What Works In Education” website, designed for parents, teachers and stakeholders: (http://www.edutopia.org/) Here you can view videos on the most effective teachers and schools in the nation. Only by envisioning the best for your children, comparing your children’s experiences against the ideal, can you understand the importance of the upcoming 2014 Common Core State Standards.

 Adopting The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will mean a monumental, not insurmountable, shift in mutual accountability for parents, teachers and administration. If parents became more involved in insisting that the administration guarantees research-based teaching methodologies in their children’s classrooms, as Bill Gates said, “we could eliminate the academic differences between the U.S. and China in two years.” Silenced by their fear of retribution toward their children, or the uncomfortable sense that others will perceive them as “helicopter parents”, parents must now speak up and become more active by attending to a new moral imperative, demonstrating “relentless persistence” in assuring every teacher in their children’s school understands the basic formula of effective teaching: Know WHAT to teach, and HOW to teach and ensure purposeful reading and writing across disciplines. Keep in mind, it is not about a teacher’s POWER over their students, but the ability of a teacher to EMPOWER their students.

To be afraid to confront flagrant evidence of NON-teaching or unprofessional teacher behaviors reflects “benign indifference” toward your child.

FACTS TO KNOW:
TEACHERS WHO USE EFFECTIVE TEACHING STRATEGEIES:

1.    Would have 20 to 30 times as much positive impact on learning than the most popular current initiatives.
2.    Are about 10 times as cost-effective as reducing class size.
3.    Would add between 6 and 9 months of additional learning growth per year.
4.    Account for as much as 400 percent "speed of learning differences"; students would learn four times as fast as a result of its consistent use.
5.    Who demonstrate three years of effective teaching will catapult students in the lowest quartiles into the third or even fourth quartile.
6.    Could eliminate the achievement gap in about five years.
7.    Enhance student learning. The highest-performing teachers ensure that students learn twice as much material in the same amount of time as their peers.

Two Powerful Resources To
Solidify Parents’ Knowledge Base:

1. Below is a link to the document, “Change The Odds”, based on the book, Simply Better: Doing What Matters Most to Change the Odds for Student Success, by Bryan Goodwin. This document focuses on the high-leverage, high pay-off areas for school systems, which are most likely to have a positive effect on student success.

             SEE: http://www.changetheodds.org/pdf/0125MM_CTOPub_sml.pdf

2. SEE: The promise of Common Core Curriculum State Standards: link to their website and download the training PowerPoint: http://www.corestandards.org

 

WHAT IS “NOT” TEACHING

 Not teaching” is defined as limited student engagement, such as seen in the traditional, over-used “lecture method”. As one author noted: “To walk into a classroom and see a teacher just lecturing in the front of the room is not only boring; it is also appalling. This outdated methodology is akin to educational malpractice because we have research-based tools for lesson design that we know are crucial to concept development”. (Bonnie Bell) One of the many research-based strategies to replace the “lecture method” is the “New American Lecture”. (http://tinyurl.com/btfuukq) The CCSS recognizes that a well-trained teacher will know what strategy to choose for a particular lesson. The problem is, due to crippling budget cuts and an absence of substantive staff development, there are very few “well trained teachers”, as many teachers have never been taught these research-based strategies.

 

WHAT “IS” TEACHING?

We know what teaching IS. Research has identified numerous statistically reliable teaching methodologies, all explained in John Hattie’s groundbreaking book,Visible Learning. (http://growthmindseteaz.org/johnhattie.htm) He cites evidence that teachers using high yield strategies will likely see significant growth in student progress.” He identifies the “hinge effect” value, a value of .40 or greater that indicates an intervention is likely to bring success.

Below is a video of a teacher demonstrating “active teaching”, and “measuring performance” (two elements of AAMP) by providing a high-end engagement annotation strategy, the SIFTT Method. Your children should see this level of student empowerment, critical thinking and discussion in every class. https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/sift-method-analyze-literature

These are the types of researched-based engagement strategies you should see in your children’s classrooms.

Dr. Marzano’s research-based strategies:
http://tinyurl.com/yp7c6c
Dr. Kagan’s implementation structures: http://tinyurl.com/6meatoo

 

EXAMINE YOUR CHILD’S HOMEWORK

Parents need to be diligent in supervising the type of “homework” sent home. According to the CCSS, you should see “rigor and relevance” in homework assignments, guided practice in math, and a significant increase in reading and writing, You need to jealously guard the quality of homework time your child spends and contact your administrator if you see abundant examples of “the coloring curriculum”, cutting, pasting, coloring, and spending hours on various forms of poisonous “poster projects”, projects that rob students of the time they should be spending reading, writing and thinking about big ideas. See research on homework at The Homework Lady: http://homeworklady.com/

In high school, many students report “they have no time to read”, and instead, replace reading with Spark notes in order to survive classes because “difficult” books are assigned for “homework” along with-mind numbing work sheets. Most of the “difficult books” need to be read and discussed in class. Home should be for pleasure reading. This book is a critical read for all administrators, teachers and stakeholders.

 

READICIDE: How Schools Are Killing Reading And What You Can Do About It. Author Kelly Gallagher describes:

 Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools. Reading is dying in our schools. Educators are familiar with many of the factors that have contributed to the decline — poverty, second-language issues, and the ever-expanding choices of electronic entertainment. In this provocative new book, Kelly Gallagher suggests, however, that it is time to recognize a new and significant contributor to the death of reading: our schools. http://tinyurl.com/cogsfv

 

In Readicide, Kelly argues that American schools are actively (though unwittingly) furthering the decline of reading. Specifically, he contends that the standard instructional practices used in most schools are killing reading by:

 

• Valuing the development of test-takers over the development of lifelong readers;

• Mandating breadth over depth in instruction;

• Requiring students to read difficult texts without proper instructional support;

• Insisting that students focus solely on academic texts;

• Ignoring the importance of developing recreational reading;

• And losing sight of authentic instruction in the shadow of political pressures

 

The good teaching needed to meet the challenge of CCSS standards will mean a radical shift in both assessment tools and teachers’ mindsets about students’ abilities to learn. Instead of haphazardly designed assessments, CCSS promote unique and specific assessments that promote student “mastery”. Children should see more than end-of-chapter assessments; he or she should see the kinds of formative and authentic assessments created by this teacher. http://tinyurl.com/7e9yqgo Sadly, despite the critical importance of assessment, very few teachers have had much formal training in assessment design or analysis.

All students, teachers, parents and principals must understand that virtually all students have the capacity to master the Common Core, depending on your school’s capacity to get them there.

 

KEY QUESTION:

The CCSS standards are clear: A teacher is NOT allowed to NOT teach. What can you do to make sure “it is working” for all children at your school site?

If your administrator or teacher refuses to demonstrate transparency, agreeing to honestly work with you to evaluate such things as: a homework policy and how it aligns with CCSS (¾ of the real work is to be completed in class, not as “busy work” for homework); an in-class or homework assignment that was “assigned”, not taught, a “project”, which has no clear connection to teaching or a standard, coloring and poster assignments for content where your child is assessed on the quality of coloring, not content, assessments made on idiosyncratic decisions like “participation points” or behavior, not what a child should know and be able to do, a teacher who refuses to reteach or reassess a critical standard-- then you need to consider a formal complaint process. See attachment:

 

Question: "Is it working …for your children?