How to use your child’s PARCC scores

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Emily Volk­ert Emily Volk­ert is a lit­er­acy spe­cial­ist at Den­ver Pub­lic Schools.

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 (bealearn­ 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.

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