Here's how you can help your child succeed on tests and make sure that tests are tools for learning at school.
by: GreatSchools Staff
Your child is used to taking tests, but beginning in high school the results carry higher stakes. Tests may determine whether your child progresses from algebra to geometry, graduates from high school or is admitted to the college of her choice. It’s no wonder parents worry that their kids are test-stressed.
You can help your child learn to take tests and use tests to learn with these 10 tips:
1. Monitor your child’s progress on homework and classroom tests.
It may seem obvious, but good study skills are the best test preparation. It can be challenging to keep track of your tween or teen’s progress in school. Your child is learning to be independent – a good thing – and may resist your efforts. And you don’t want to get so involved that you’re the one doing his homework. How much supervision you need to provide depends on your child’s age, maturity and how he’s doing in school. Find out the best times and ways to contact his teachers (Email makes this a lot easier!) Check in with them regularly for feedback and ask how you can help your child at home.
Learn more: Read Study skills for middle school and beyond and How to take great notes on GreatSchools.org.
2. Help your child learn from tests.
Go over tests with your child to see if there are concepts he still doesn’t understand and give him a pat on the back if he did well. Ask your child if he knows how he was able to achieve the grade he got or how he can get a better grade next time. If he gets an 80% on an essay test and the teacher’s only comment is “good job,” that’s not much information. What was good? What does he have to do to get 100%? Many teachers use “rubrics,” or scoring guides, to show students the difference between A, B and C work. Rubrics can break down a more subjective area, such as writing, into components that students can more readily understand.
Learn more: Read more about the use of rubrics in middle school in this article on Middle Web, a resource for teachers and parents.
3. Talk to the teachers or principal about how test results are used.
Ask how the teacher uses test results to adjust her lesson planning or methods of instruction. Does the teacher go over tests after handing them back so that students get a chance to learn from them? Ask the principal how the school uses standardized tests to improve learning and instruction, and how achievement gaps between groups of students are being addressed.
4. Find out how students are prepared for standardized tests.
Do they understand the purpose of a test? Is preparation a separate activity, done in the last week or two, using old editions of the test? This focus on the superficial features of test-taking is what gives test preparation a bad name.
Students should be given some classroom tests in the same format as the standardized test they will take. “We’re not talking about getting old copies of the test,” says Dr. Christopher Tienken, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in New Jersey and a professor at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. “If a test format calls for a written response, you shouldn’t be seeing only multiple-choice tests.”
Good teachers integrate the test-taking skills and strategies into their instruction on a regular basis. For example, the skills needed to successfully answer questions on a reading comprehension test – time management, understanding the question being asked and distilling the main point of the passage to be read – are those your child will need to complete assignments in many classes in the years ahead.
Learn more: Read What’s so bad about teaching to the test? on GreatSchools.org.
5. Find out what other ways the school assesses students.
Tests don’t give a full picture of your student. They don’t measure her ability as an artist or creative thinker. For this reason, some schools also use portfolio assessment to evaluate students. Students collect samples of their story drafts, research projects or lab reports into portfolios. The student’s reflections and evaluations of what she has learned are part of the portfolio, which she presents to classmates, teachers and in some cases, parents or community members. Portfolio assessment is not widely used because portfolios are more time-consuming to grade than standardized tests. A number of colleges also accept academic portfolios for admission. Whether or not your child’s school uses a variation of portfolio assessment, she should be assessed on more than test results. Your child should be given a range of assignments, from research papers to creative writing to science projects to help her become an engaged learner and to practice skills that tests may not reflect.
Learn more: Here’s a description of portfolio assessment from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, is one college that allows students to skip the SAT and submit a portfolio. Applicants have to send in four samples of graded work from their junior and senior years in high school, including teacher comments.
6. Help your child learn the questions to ask before the test.
The path to a good grade shouldn’t be a mystery. At the beginning of the school year or semester, the teacher should make clear how students will be graded.
Some teachers give points for homework, quizzes and projects and add them up to calculate a grade. Others count only major assignments. Some reward effort, which makes hard-working students feel better but should also be a warning flag: Grades from teachers who give lots of credit for effort don’t give an accurate picture of the skills students have mastered.
Before a test, your student should know the specifics: the test format, the scope of material covered, whether he needs to show his work for math problems and whether he’ll be penalized for guessing on a multiple-choice test. If a teacher isn’t providing enough information to help your child prepare, make an appointment to speak with the teacher, and if you need to, talk to the principal.
7. Before the test, go over strategies with your student.
• Remind him to do the following:
• Preview the test before he starts work on it, noting the number of points for each question. Then, he should quickly figure out how much
time to spend on each section.
• Read the question carefully so he understands what he is being asked to do. On a multiple-choice test, a question that asks “Which of the
following does not…..” has a far different answer than “Which of the following does….” Talk about how the answers would be different if
your child is asked to:
• Compare (identify similarities and differences)
• Contrast (show differences)
• Summarize (give a concise account without detail)
• Prove (support a point of view with facts)
• Answer the easiest questions first. Then go back to the tougher ones.
• Make educated guesses on multiple-choice questions. If points are deducted for guessing, it’s better to leave an answer blank than to make
a wild guess. But if your child can eliminate one or more incorrect answers, or if there is no penalty for guessing, it’s a good idea to guess.
• On questions that require matching, he should read all the items before he writes any answers so he can get an idea of all the possibilities.
This is less time-consuming than going back to erase and change an answer.
• For short-answer questions, keep in mind that the teacher has something specific in mind from the assigned reading or her lectures.
• Know that first impulses are usually correct, so be careful about going back to change answers.
• Use all of his time. If he finishes, he should check his answers. If he’s checked the answers once, he can cover up his answers and think
through the question again to see if he should rework his answer.
Learn more: Read Timed writing: techniques for success from the College Board.
8. Remember that all tests are tests of reading ability.
If your student struggles with tests, talk to the teacher about whether she may have a reading problem. She may be able to read individual words but struggle with the advanced reading skills middle and high school students need to summarize, analyze and predict. Keep books, magazines and newspapers at home to encourage your child to read, and let her see you reading, too. Older children still look to parents as role models, even if they aren’t quick to admit it!
Learn more: Read Get ready for middle and high school reading and Get ready for college reading on GreatSchools.org.
9. Help your child get physically and mentally prepared.
Try to make sure your child has a well-balanced diet and is well-rested. Make sure he knows how the results of a test will be used and encourage him to take it seriously. Talk to him about any fears he has about a test if he seems overly anxious. But then remind him that the test is only one measure of what he can do.
Learn more: Check the GreatSchools.org Healthy Kids guide for healthy food and fitness ideas.
10. Learn more about tests.
Find out what a test is designed to measure. Don’t draw conclusions from a single test score and question any decision the school makes about your child based on a single test. How your child feels physically on test day or the way she feels about the teacher can affect her results.
Tienken says that his district has moved away from using a single test to determine a child’s placement in a program for gifted students or in a particular class. A student’s past achievement, current report card and test scores are now taken into account before a decision is made, he says.
“Parents should ask, ‘What are your criteria for student placement decisions?'” Tienken advises.
If your child’s results on several different tests are relatively consistent, you should pay attention and discuss any worrying trends – as well as newly emerging talents – with the teacher or counselor.
When looking at your school’s test scores, assessing whether the school’s scores have improved or declined over time is more useful than looking at the results of a single test.
Setting your priorities first will help you sort through the specialty programs and camps to find the best ones for your child.
by: GreatSchools Staff
As any busy parent knows, summer isn’t what it used to be. It often means replacing the routine of school and after-school care with a patchwork of camps, lessons, temporary child care arrangements and family vacations. It’s also a chance for your child to learn and grow by sampling a new activity, developing her talents and becoming more independent.
Making the right choices for your child is a balancing act, says Dr. Judith Myers-Walls, a child development expert at Purdue University. “You have to balance your needs with your goals to give your child new experiences and your child’s needs.”
Camps come in all shapes and sizes
In many communities, there is an abundance of choice. There are approximately 14,000 camps in the U.S., according to the nonprofit American Camp Association, which accredits about 2,400 of them. The programs are operated by private companies, local parks and recreation departments, and nonprofit community or religious organizations. They fall into these general types, although there are programs that combine a number of elements:
Special interest programs
These focus on a sport, the arts, science or technology. They can be half-day or full-day programs and are often called “camps” although they don’t involve camping.
These can be a good, relatively low-cost introduction to camp for younger children. They typically include the hiking, swimming and crafts programs of a traditional camp without the overnight stay.
Ranging from very rustic to downright posh, these overnight camps typically offer a two- to eight-week-long outdoor experience for a range of ages that includes sports and arts and crafts. Many offer a one-week option for first-time campers. Some sleepaway camps focus on a particular activity, such as music.
Camps for children with special needs
The Americans for Disabilities Act requires that camps make accommodations, such as wheelchair ramps, for children with special needs. But there are also a number of camps especially tailored to children with learning or behavioral problems, chronic illness and developmental disabilities.
Here’s how to get started finding out what’s right for your child and family.
Consider your needs — and your budget
If you need full-time care for your child all summer, the costs can quickly add up so you’ll want to first consider your overall budget.
Many day camp programs end early in the afternoon or only last a few weeks. That means working parents need to include the cost of after-camp child care or babysitting in their planning. The cost of summer programs varies widely. The most recent estimate from the American Camp Association is that the average day camp costs $324 a week. But camps that are operated by local governments or nonprofit organizations often cost less. And there are plenty of camps that cost more.
“But the fee does not equate with equality,” says Ann Sheets, executive director of the American Camp Association, which accredits day and sleepaway camps.
Miriam Silver, a mother of an 11-year-old boy in Sebastapol, CA, has sent her son to a city-operated day camp several summers that costs $125 a week, much less than the national average.
“It’s at a beautiful lake with hiking trails,” she says. “They get dirty. They get independent. He doesn’t usually canoe. He doesn’t fish. But he does that week.”
The average cost of a sleepaway camp is $768 a week, according to the ACA. If you’re considering sending your child away to camp, you’ll need to factor in transportation to camp for your child and for you, if you’re planning to visit.
No matter what program you’re considering, be sure to ask about scholarships and financial assistance, because many camps offer them.
Once you’ve figured out your overall budget, you’ll need to ask at each camp you consider what the overall fee includes.
Does it cover snacks and meals?
Does it cover materials, such as arts and craft supplies, and all the activities the camp offers?
Are you required to buy a camp uniform or sports gear?
Sometimes you have to get creative to stay within your summer budget. You may want to pool your resources with a few other parents to hire an energetic teenager for the after-camp care you need. Or you might want to join with a small group of other parents who are able to stay at home for a day or two at a time to create your own day camp. You can provide a fun yet inexpensive week by combining a trip to the lake, an outing at a science museum, story hour at the library, baking projects that incorporate math lessons and a nature walk or two. Trying this low-cost alternative might help you save for a week of the soccer camp your child has been begging to attend.
Consider your child’s needs
There’s general agreement that most children are ready for sleepaway camp by the time they are nine or 10 years old, but every child has a different temperament and developmental timetable. Is your child comfortable staying overnight with friends or relatives? Is he excited at the prospect of camp? Talk to your pediatrician or your child’s teacher if you’re not sure your child is ready.
Your child may have loved her day camp last summer, but that doesn’t mean she’ll want to go year after year. Children’s needs change as they grow, and your 10-year-old may have developed interests that make a special interest program in volleyball or dance a better option than day camp or sleepaway camp.
Summers can be even trickier for parents of teens, who may want more free time than their parents are comfortable allowing. Many campers “graduate” to become counselors-in-training or junior counselors, a great way to combine the experience of camp with the responsibilities of a job.
Consider your goals for your child
Summer is a great time for your child to sample new activities, and there’s likely to be a summer program that includes just about any you can think of, whether it’s video production, yoga, rock-climbing or songwriting.
Whatever new experience you’d love to introduce to your child, experts advise that you involve him in the process of choosing, whether it’s the type of camp or the length of his stay. It’s a way for a child to retain a sense of control, and also a way to head off homesickness if he’s heading to sleepaway camp.
“The child needs to buy in and have some choice,” says the ACA’s Sheets.
Myers-Walls, the Purdue psychologist, also advises parents to involve their children in planning for summer. But that doesn’t mean you don’t push them a bit, she says.
“As a parent you may say ‘my child is afraid of any spider in the house’ and I know a nature experience is going to make her a little uncomfortable,'” she says. “That doesn’t mean you don’t do it. You’ll just want to look for ways to make your child less uncomfortable.”
You can help your child feel more at home outdoors by giving her some practice. Plan a family weekend at a nearby campground this spring or help her organize a camp out with friends in her own backyard.
Do your homework
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to those that fit your needs and budget, talk to other parents, check the local newspaper, library, parks and recreation department and community organizations like the YMCA to find out about your options. There are camp fairs in many metropolitan areas where you can meet representatives from summer programs in your area.
A Google search will show you that there are many camp advisory sites on the Web. They are free and can be helpful in showing your range of choices. But remember that sites often make money by selling advertising to the camps they list, and their recommendation isn’t a substitute for you doing your homework.
"Going to any Web site is just one part of choosing a camp,” says Sheets.
Check the ACA Web site to see a list of the organization’s accredited camps. A camp on this list has met the organization’s extensive list of standards for its site, staff, health and safety, food service, programs and transportation.
However, some very good camps choose not to apply for accreditation, acknowledges Sheets. Those with long waiting lists, for example, don’t feel they need to go through the extensive process, which costs a camp money and staff time.
In any case, you’ll want to see if the camp is a good fit for your child. Your best sources of information are the director and parents whose children have been there. Ask the camp director for references if you don’t know parents whose children have attended.
Many camps post lovely pictures on their brochures or Web sites, but parents still need to ask detailed questions about the facilities.
“I’d be particularly interested in where the kids are sleeping,” says Sheets. “I’ve slept in cabins, in tents and out under the stars. They’re very different experiences.”
You’ll also want to see if your child will be happy with the camp’s culture. If the brochure emphasizes the sports program, for example, a parent should ask what specific activities make up that program.
“There are great camps that are extremely competitive,” says Sheets. “And great camps that are not.”
Plan now for next year
The best time to visit a camp or program is when it’s in session. While it’s too late for that this year, you may want to factor a camp visit into your vacation plans this summer.
Bring your list of questions, talk to the director, take in the scenery, but most of all, watch the way the staff treats the campers and the campers treat each other. That will help you get a head start on your planning for next year.
by: Deidre Hayden | February 9, 2016
As a parent of a child with learning disabilities, you have a special interest in knowing what is in your child’s school records. This is true because of the significant information these records offer you about your child and also because of the emphasis schools place on these records when making educational decisions. If any information in your child’s records is inaccurate, biased, incomplete, or inconsistent, this material may well result in inaccurate decisions regarding your child’s right to special education services. For these reasons you must know how to obtain, interpret, and correct these records and how to use them effectively in school meetings. This article will give you an overview of your rights to your child’s records.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Schools are required by federal and state laws to maintain certain records and to make these records available to you upon request. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establish the minimum requirements school systems must meet in maintaining, protecting, and providing access to students’ school records. State laws will sometimes go beyond these minimum requirements and provide parents with additional rights to review, modify, or seek other changes in these records. Be sure to obtain a copy of your own state’s and school district’s school records laws and procedures by contacting your school district’s director of special education.
Obtaining your child’s records from the local school
Getting copies of your child’s school records should be fairly easy. While federal law does not specifically require school systems to provide parents with copies of these records, in practice most school systems do so upon request.
Types of files
Begin by asking the school principal about the location of your child’s various files or records. These will include:
• Cumulative file. The principal will have your child’s cumulative file, which you will want to see and copy. Often the cumulative file contains
little more than a profile card with personal identification data and perhaps academic achievement levels, some teacher reports, and
• Confidential file. Also accessible to parents, the confidential file may be kept at your child’s school, or in a central administrative office
where the special education program offices are located. The file is called confidential because access to the information is limited to
certain individuals. Your child’s confidential record includes all of the reports written as a result of the school’s evaluation; reports of
independent evaluators, if any; medical records that you have had released; summary reports of evaluation team and eligibility committee
meetings; your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP); and, often, correspondence between you and school personnel.
• Compliance file (some schools). Some school systems keep the reports of eligibility meetings, correspondence between the parents and
school officials, and other similar documents in a separate compliance file. The contents of the compliance file demonstrate that the school
system has met the timelines, notification, and consent regulations required by IDEA.
• Discipline file (some schools). Some schools may also maintain a separate file regarding discipline issues involving long-term suspension or
A good bit of detective work is sometimes required to understand your school system’s individual filing system!
Getting copies of records
School districts usually require parents to sign a “release of information” form before they will provide copies of schools records. You can often obtain that form through your child’s school, or by simply writing a letter to the school principal or special education director, requesting a copy of school records. In many school districts, parents can go to the district’s special education offices and fill out a form to request their children’s records.
School districts usually provide the first copy of records for free. If they do charge a fee, the fee can be only for the cost of reproducing and mailing the records, not for personnel time or other costs. Again, check your local policies and procedures for your district’s process.
Records open to parents
Once you have gained access to your child’s records, does this mean you can see any and all records pertaining to your child? Which records is the school system legally required to show you? Under FERPA, schools must show parents all records, files, documents, and other materials that are maintained by the school system and contain information relating to their children. This includes all records referring to your child in any personally identifiable manner – that is, records containing your child’s name, Social Security number, student ID number, or other data making them traceable to her.
The following are excluded from the records schools must show you:
• Notes of teachers, counselors, and/or school administrators, made for their personal use and shown to nobody else (except a substitute
• Personnel records of school employees
Examining and correcting your child’s records
Even when you have your child’s records in your hands, you may wonder what you’ve got. The language of the educators, psychologists, educational diagnosticians, and other school professionals is often difficult to understand. If this is the case for you, all you need to do is ask someone to help you. The law requires school personnel to explain the records to you when you do not understand them. Or you may take a friend or a knowledgeable professional with you to help review the records and explain confusing parts. When you do this, however, you will be asked to sign a form giving that person permission to see your child’s records.
As you review the records, you may find places where information given about your child or family conflicts with your own assessments. If left unchallenged, this material could lead to decisions about your child’s educational program that are not in his or her best interest. To prevent this from happening, you can follow two paths.
• First, you can informally ask the principal or the director of special education to delete the material, giving your reasons for the request.
Often school officials will honor the request and no problem arises.
• You may also write down your objections to a particular record and have that attached to the record.
If you strongly believe the report does not belong in your child’s record, and the schools refuse to remove the requested material, you have a right to a formal records hearing. Your state and local school district policies will tell you how to follow the more formal process for amending your child’s records.
Controlling who sees your child’s records
FERPA and IDEA prohibit schools from disclosing your child’s records to anyone without your written consent. The only exceptions are:
• School officials, including teachers, in your child’s district with a legitimate educational interest as defined in the school procedures
• School officials in the school district to which your child intends to transfer (Before the records are sent, however, you will want to review
them and challenge their content, if necessary.)
• Certain state and national education agencies, if necessary, for enforcing federal laws
• Anyone to whom a state statute requires the school to report information
• Accrediting and research organizations helping the school, provided they guarantee confidentiality
• Student financial aid officials
• People who have court orders, provided the school makes reasonable efforts to notify the parent or student before releasing the records
• Appropriate people in health and safety emergencies such as doctors, nurses, and fire marshals
• Law enforcement and judicial authorities in certain cases
With the exception of the people listed above, schools must have your permission to release material from your child’s records to anyone other than yourself. When requesting release of the records, the school must tell you which records are involved, why they have been requested, and who will receive them. Likewise, if you want someone outside the school system to see your child’s records, you will be asked to sign a release granting such permission. All of these rules have been instituted to protect your privacy and that of your child.
When your child reaches 18 or goes to post-secondary school
When your child reaches the age of 18 or enters a post-secondary educational institution such as a vocational-technical school, a college, a university, or trade school, most rights to records previously available to you are transferred to your child. The only parts of the record your child will not have the right to see are your financial records and any statements or confidential recommendations your child has waived the right to see. This means if you wish to review the school records of a son or daughter who is 18 or who is attending post-secondary school, she must first sign a waiver permitting you to do so.
IDEA gives parents of children with disabilities, including learning disabilities, special consideration when transferring record rights. The law grants states the authority to develop individual policies which take into account the type and severity of the child’s disability and the child’s age when transferring record rights from parents to their children. Thus, if your child with disabilities has reached age 18 or is about to reach 18 and is in secondary school, you should find out, by asking the director of special education in your school district, if your state has a policy that allows you continued access to your child’s records. If not, you and school personnel may want to develop a waiver form which your child can sign allowing you continued rights to review, to control access to, and to seek changes in those records.
When you move
If you should move, your child’s school records will, of course, move with you. To be certain your child’s new school receives only relevant and current records, you will want to examine the entire contents of the folder and identify specifically the material you want forwarded. Most school systems will honor your request and send only the information you want released. However, you should note that many states require schools to transfer records about any disciplinary violation; you do not have the option of excluding that information.
Should the school wish to send material you want withheld, you can initiate a records hearing procedure to prohibit them from doing so. In any case, before you move, always review your child’s school folder. You will want to eliminate the irrelevant, inaccurate, and dated material or attach your critique to those records you believe should have been removed but were not.
Because of the importance of your child’s records in determining special education services, you should review and correct them annually, whether or not you move. You should also be certain you have a duplicate copy of all the material in the official files. Then, if the records are lost, you will have copies to replace them.
A final note: thick records
Classroom teachers have been heard to comment, “When I see a thick set of records for a child new to my class, I know trouble is coming.” This is another reason for your diligence in reviewing your child’s records periodically. Many reports, especially those written several years previously, give little if any information that will be useful in current decisions about your child. A careful weeding out of irrelevant documents can help to avoid the thick record syndrome.
On Friday, September 14, 2018, EPCA’s President, Rhonda Boucher participated on the “Daybreak” CBC Radio show at noon with Shawn Apel, as well as members from the four political parties, the new Director for QESBA, Russell Copeman and the Honourable Marlene Jennings.
The topic of the radio show was focused on the “CAQ” wanting to close School Boards and opening “Administrative Centers”.
Link to the show recording: https://bit.ly/2O6aeQp
Marlene Jennings and Rhonda Boucher were part of the “Election Systems Study Panel” (ESSP). The ESSP was put together to address the benefits of Universal Suffrage, the election of Commissioners and the practices of the English School Boards. Ms. Jennings brought up the Study and told Christopher Skeete, from the CAQ, that he obviously didn’t read the study.
Ms. Boucher promised to post the study on the epcaquebec.org website. Please take 20 minutes and read the study before you vote. You can send questions and/or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When middle and high schools work together, it can have a big impact on student success, including higher graduation rates and higher GPAs.
A surprising factor in high schools’ success at preparing students for college is a practice that’s not available for all high schools, but offers useful lessons for all schools: having a closely connected middle school. While research exploring the impact of combined middle and high schools on college enrollment is lacking, several winners of GreatSchools’ College Success Award credit their combined sixth to twelfth grade models as a part of their success.
In schools where middle and high schools share space and their administrative teams work closely together, several things happen that contribute to students’ postsecondary success. Students get familiar with a school’s culture and expectations earlier, which is especially helpful when the school has high expectations for postsecondary success; students have the opportunity to build longer-lasting relationships with teachers; and staff can identify and intervene with at-risk students earlier. Implementing more 6-12 and 7-12 systems may not be an easy solution for every district, but all schools can learn from these benefits.
A head start on learning school culture
Combined middle/high schools offer students more time to learn and internalize aspects of the school’s culture that will affect their success, while the schools have the opportunity to expose students to college and career pathways in earlier grades.
At College Success Award-winning Young Women’s Preparatory Academy, a rigorous college prep magnet school in Miami-Dade Unified School District, students enter in 6th grade and immediately start taking advanced classes to get them ready for AP classes in high school. In addition to walking halls filled with posters from the colleges where their older schoolmates are headed, middle schoolers receive explicit guidance from their college-bound peers. Through a structured program they call Big Sister, Little Sister, the high schoolers mentor middle schools students, helping them with academic and social challenges. The seniors run the entire program, guiding the high school mentors.
“[Middle schoolers] need a lot of attention, they need a lot of direction, they need a lot of structure,” says Concepcion Martinez, principal of YWPA, adding that if they get this attention during these early years, their college-going identity is formed, something that is much harder to do with incoming 9th graders.
At Newbury Junior/Senior High School in semi-rural Newbury, OH, high school students work directly with middle schoolers through a peer mentoring program. Principal Michael Chaffee says the high school’s celebration of college and career plans gets middle school students excited about their futures and makes them more passionate about learning.
The development of meaningful teacher-student relationships is critical for helping students succeed after high school. The longer teachers spend with students, the more invested they can be in supporting the student’s long-term growth, and the better they can understand individual students’ needs.
Such is the argument for the practice of looping, in which teachers and students remain together for two or more years. Research suggests that looping in the middle school years supports the development of meaningful teacher-student relationships and impacts learning and student achievement. There were even gains for new students who joined a group of classmates who had been with the same teacher for more than a year. The effects may be even more pronounced for groups traditionally underrepresented in college. A recent study showed that looping in elementary school increased student test scores, and the effects were greatest for minority students.
When middle and high schools operate together, many teachers naturally connect with students multiple times in their middle and high school lives — from childhood to young adulthood. A student may take 6th grade English, 8th grade history and 10th grade journalism all from the same teacher. When teachers and students have more time to develop strong relationships, teachers can spend less time on “getting to know you” activities every year and focus on helping each student grow to their highest potential.
Identifying student needs earlier
Starting in middle school also means identifying at-risk students even earlier than 9th grade. At Newbury, Chaffee says the school’s strong connection between middle and high school grades helps ensure all students receive a strong and consistent network of support. Teachers collaborate across grade levels, which is especially important for students who need extra help.
Having a connected middle school eliminates some of the hazards of the 9th grade crisis. The transition to high school is associated with a risk of failure, particularly for low-income students. Research shows that in ninth grade, students are more likely to miss classes, earn low grades, and have disciplinary issues than at any other time in high school.
Middle and high schools that are not connected can help ameliorate this by being strategic about the transition process. Advisory programs, which match small groups of students with teacher or staff, can help students get to know at least one adult on campus more quickly than the typical high school model where 9th grade students have six to eight teachers, and every teacher has a roster of 100 to 200 students.
Jean Baldwin Grossman, a lecturer of economics and public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, has studied a multitude of ways to help prepare middle schoolers for high school transitions, and notes that a crucial step is to expose middle schoolers to the realities of high school life.
“A good place to start is developing some bridging activities,” she says. “Like having middle schoolers visit the high school.”
Some strategies for that exposure include high school orientation and summer bridge programs, which let students spend extra time in their new school and get a feel for high school culture and coursework. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers can also take steps to collaborate across the district to ensure curriculum and expectations are aligned, and to identify students who may need extra support.
Original article: Greater Schools
Summer School Attendance as a means to enhanced and remedial education for all students. The goal is:
a) Better quality of graduate;
b) Increase the graduation rate.
As we take a look at our neighbours to the South:
“... As the final months of the 2016-17 school year unfold, the nation’s 4 million 9th graders—the Class of 2020—are entering the make-it-or-break-it final weeks of their first year of high school. And GradNation—the national campaign by America’s Promise Alliance to increase graduation rates to 90 percent by 2020—is entering its make-it-or-break-it years.
GradNation has a goal to reach 90 percent graduation.”
... our own provincial government has a new goal:
“...Quebec seeks to curb slumping high school graduation rate
Premier Philippe Couillard wants to increase rate to 85% by
... Lester B. Pearson, our own school board as per a last year report:
“...The LBPSB recently posted a seven-year graduation and qualification rate of 87.8 per cent, which is higher than the seven-year average of public schools (74.9) and rates for all schools in the province (78.8).”
In addition to these numerical goals, our students also face additional competition from foreign and out of province students in higher education.
So in addition to a new goal to increase the graduation rate, we also now require a qualitative factor.
In the United States some states have recognized that some of the major issues have to do with income disparity. The second is what is referred to as the summer learning loss, summer setback or summer slide.
(See report by David M Quinn AND Morgan Polikoff
Based on the Brookings study referenced above, they found that students lost an average of about 20-30 percent over the summer. When socio economic factors are included, a gap starts to develop. While we do not have adverse socio economic factors as exists in the U.S., they do exist in our province and as such they present an impediment to our primary goals.
The solution is to use existing tools and facilities to run within our summer school project.
The Summer School Project
Common suggestions include blending academic learning with hands-on or recreational activities, professionalizing summer school staff, and forming partnerships with community organizations to leverage resources (cost as much as $1500 per student).
The Reading and Math Based Programs
READS for Summer Learning. In READS, which has been iteratively modified over several randomized trials, students receive eight books in the mail over the summer that are matched to their reading level and interests. Along with each book, students receive a tri-fold paper that leads them through a pre-reading activity and a post-reading comprehension check. Students are asked to mail the postage-prepaid tri-fold back; families receive reminders when tri-folds are not returned. (Cost as much as $700 per student.)
While investing in extensive school-based summer options may not be feasible, it may be cost-effective and strategic for School boards to begin to offer targeted out-of-school interventions to the students most at risk of backsliding. (Fusion Portal can help track certain metrics.)
Where is summer learning successful
The new term for Summer school is Summer Learning and some states have new names to change the stigma. In California it is called “Expanded Learning Strategic Plan” for enhanced student success.
Signed into law in California, in 2014, this program focuses existing resources on summer and year-round programs; requires data-driven local quality improvement plans; leverages state data systems to track outcomes; and streamlines program administration. Implementation is supported by new quality standards from the California Afterschool Network.
MASSACHUSETTS: After-School and Out-of-School Time (ASOST) Quality Enhancement Grant Program
Since 2011, the ASOST program has provided grants to enhance afterschool and summer learning programs in areas such as professional development and STEM; address barriers to participation and expand summer learning programs specifically. The program was appropriated $1.7M in 2014. (N.B.: This is the number one state in education in the US.)
Our solution identifies goals, and the reasons for this radical solution: Summer School and its new term: Enhanced and Extended Learning.