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Knowing the Score

November 1, 2010

Starting this week, public elementary schools across the city will be hosting fall parent-teacher conferences. Given the test score recalibration of this past summer there are a few things that families should keep in their minds when attending these events:

  1. Have you received printed copies of your child’s 2010 state test scores in both English Language Arts (ELA) and Math? If not CONTACT YOUR SCHOOL NOW, and ask to receive them before next week’s conference so you can review them first. Your school does have the scores and must give you a copy even if you’ve viewed them online via ARIS Parent Link.
  2. Do you fully understand what these scores mean for your child? If not, ask the teacher to explain them to you. Children who scored a Level 1 or Level 2 are entitled to receive academic intervention services (AIS). You must be notified in writing by the school of your child’s need for AIS and of their plan to provide them. Further, while your child is receiving AIS, the teacher must provide you with interim progress reports to let you know how the student is doing. When the student no longer needs AIS, the school must again notify you in writing before discontinuing service.
  3. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has currently granted a temporary one year waiver to local school districts that exempts them from providing AIS for students that scored above 650 but did not achieve a Level 3. These are not tax returns and your children are not exemptions. If your child falls into this category, ask the teacher what is being done to support your child’s academic success for the current school year. More test preparation in and of itself should not be the answer, nor should you accept it.
  4. Arrange for follow-up meeting/communication with your child’s teacher and/or principal if necessary. In some schools family conferences can resemble speed dating. While it is considerate to be mindful of the other families, you have a right to have your questions or concerns addressed in a language that you understand. Save time by coming prepared with questions or other documentation. And of course bring the student to the conference.
  5. Know what the school/teacher expects of your child and you: Clearly defined expectations and goals will offer the best chance for your child to achieve success and for you to support him/her in this effort. Numerous studies have shown that when schools and families work in true collaboration and with mutual respect, positive outcomes for students will follow.

Hopefully, these guidelines will assist you in having a meaningful family conference. Test scores alone do not make a great school, but they certainly can indicate what is or isn’t occurring in your child’s educational process. In the interim, be proactive: check your child’s backpack nightly, read all notices, look for evidence of class/homework and make sure that your family’s contact information (Blue Card) is current. Family conferences occur twice per year; your child needs to be supported throughout the entire school year. Their success depends upon it. Enjoy!

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