Unfortunately, these tests are being used for very high stakes decisions. For example, in New York, 40 percent (in Florida, 50 percent) of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on test scores. The pitfalls in standardized testing were recently exemplified by a ridiculous question on a New York State about a pineapple racing a hare!
Standardized testing, and its concomitant problems — such as teachers being forced to teach to these tests — is a huge concern in education today. Parents need to keep informed about this as well as many other school issues.
How informed a parent are you? Here’s a pop quiz for parents. There are no trick questions!
1. How would you characterize your relationship to the professionals in your children’s school(s)?
(a) I know the names of my children’s teachers, principal, and central office staff, but do not interact with them.
(b) I have a cordial relationship with them, and am comfortable contacting them about issues or problems.
(c) I resent their salaries and benefits.
(d) I don’t interact with them.
2. How would you describe your involvement in your PTA and district?
(a) I attend PTA and Board of Education meetings and take an active part.
(b) My spouse attends some meetings, talks to the PTA president, and keeps me informed.
(c) I’ve been to a couple, but think these meetings are a waste of time.
(d) I have no idea when meetings are held and never attend them.
3. How do you get information about your school and district?
(a) I check school and district websites on a regular basis.
(b) I read local newspapers and online media, check school and district websites, and speak to teachers, administrators, and Board of Education members.
(c) I am generally too busy to keep informed, but if there’s an issue I speak to my neighbors.
(d) I don’t get involved in politics and have no idea of what’s going on.
4. How involved are you in the 2012-2013 budget process?
(a) I have been following issues in local media, and plan to vote.
(b) I have regularly attended budget and Board of Education meetings.
(c) I haven’t been involved, but I don’t like the excessive spending.
(d) I can’t be bothered and I want to move to North Carolina.
5. How satisfied are you with the quality of education in your school district?
(a) I am very pleased with my children’s teachers, but am concerned about cuts to educational programs.
(b) I moved here because of the district’s reputation, and my children are flourishing.
(c) My taxes are rising and I’m not so sure it’s worth it.
(d) I am dissatisfied and disillusioned.
6. If your child were a victim of bullying in school, what would you do?
(a) I would speak to my child’s teacher and brainstorm solutions and strategies.
(b) I would check the school’s bullying policy, and would ask for a meeting with the teacher, principal, and guidance counselor.
(c) I would complain to my friends.
(d) I would do nothing, and hope that it would stop.
If you answered mostly a’s and b’s, Congratulations — you are an involved parent!
If your answers were mostly c’s and d’s, it’s time you got more involved in your children’s education. Research indicates that the more parents are involved in their child’s schools, the more successful their child will be.
A child’s best advocate is an informed parent.