How to use your child’s PARCC scores
Soon after ringing in 2016, families of third- through eighth-graders across Colorado will receive their longanticipated 2014-15 PARCC score reports. These reports will contain a skill-by-skill breakdown of how students performed on this past spring’s new standardized tests.
As a literacy specialist, I’ve seen families anticipate these scores with a wide variety of emotions, ranging from enthusiasm to anxiety. Regardless of how they are feeling, I tell families one thing: know how to use this document. It can be a powerful tool for you to the support your student’s success.
Not sure where to start? I recommend three things. First, dig in. Once the report arrives, you will have in your hand an important snapshot of how effectively your child is learning the skills and knowledge needed to be ready for 21st-century careers. Start by looking it over closely, noting anything that’s not clear to you. Then, involve your child in the conversation. The goal isn’t to congratulate or chastise, but rather to understand how the numbers relate to your child.
Ask questions like, “When do you feel most successful in school?” “What is most challenging for you?” “Do you ever feel confused or frustrated?” Since kids can sometimes struggle in thinking of specific examples, the report will give you clues as to what to ask specifically. Remember, you know your child best. It’s very possible that this conversation will yield insights with which your child’s teacher would love to support you.
Next, join forces. Take what you learned from your child and set up a conversation with his or her teacher — your single greatest ally in the effort to ensure your learner is progressing. Bring any specific questions about numbers or competencies, along with a few general ones, such as, “Where have you seen my child do well and struggle? What can I do at home to help? What tools or resources should I use?”
Finally, stock up. To work on what your child’s teacher recommends, you’ll likely need some help. The new standards often look very different from the work we did when most of us were in school. I recommend visiting the Be a Learning Hero website (bealearninghero.org). This site is an online resource built by a team of parents and educators to give families the tools they need to help kids stay on track for success. There, you’ll find a step-bystep walkthrough of the report, along with specific strategies, tools and exercises you can use to support your child’s learning at home.
With a new year and new test results upon us, families have an exciting opportunity to help their child’s learning at home with an ever-growing array of resources. This year, you can build up your home learning toolkit so that as soon as you get information about how your child is doing, whether through state test scores or pop quiz results, you can spring into action using your own collection of trusted resources.