If teaching was a team sport, the team supporting the education of each would student consist: the student, his or her parents, school administrators, local school board member, the state board of education, and all national player including politicians. So why is it the national burden for education falling solely upon the shoulders of classroom teachers when actually teachers are part of a team effort? Perhaps everyone on the ‘team’ needs ‘professional development’ not just teachers?
Professional development of teachers now trumps students attending school and there rarely mention about the impact of parents upon test scores. Day after day public school students across this district have missed school due to the professional development of teachers and has meant students didn’t have school AGAIN yesterday! This month has been a checkerboard combo of missed school days due to holidays, in combination with non-school days where-by teachers are schooled in a plethora of duties, most of which have nothing to do with actually teaching students in front of them. One thing teachers need more than anything is more time with students and all the ‘developing’ of the teaching profession runs counter-productive interference towards this goal.
You might ask, “How can all these days off for students be deemed productive?”
Well, usually, professional development is predominantly filled with endless tasks of accountability required by the government, in cohort with local school district mandates with a focus on testing. For three hours yesterday teachers at my school analyzed test scores from the newly minted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) only to discover the test scores reflected what teachers at our school already know about our students because we mark their papers and work with them everyday. Lets get real, these test are for accountability purposes and the only ones being held accountable are teachers.
Professional development could be about becoming a better teacher and further developing skills to reach students.. However, no matter what teachers are told, above all, their endless professional development has been mandated in order to hold them individually accountable for student test scores. The laser-like focus on testing, required by the NCLB law, is blame in disguise as accountability with teachers being held solely accountable for student achievement on test scores. Yes, I will take some responsibility for low student test scores. However, what about the parents? At one time I heard a speech by Prsident Obama holding parents accountable yet rarely do journalists write about anyone but teachers.
However, to my surprise and delight, Thomas L. Friedman recently wrote an informed piece in the NY Times addressing this conundrum titled How About Better Parents? In this piece Friedman outlined how recent studies indicate parents who are more involved in their children’s education can have significant impact on student achievement.
One study cited by Friedman outlined the Program for International Assessment exams conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.C.D.E.). The PISA conducted a team study of 5,000 parents, across a wide spectrum of socioeconomic levels, about how they had raised their children and then compared these practices with PISA test scores.
In early November, the PISA team published three main findings discovered i their study about parenting practices among the highest scoring students who took the PISA exams: “on average, the score point difference in reading that is associated with parental involvement is largest when parents read a book with their child, when they talk about things they have done during the day, and when they tell stories to their children.” Significantly, the score point difference was smallest when parental involvement simply took the form of playing with their children.
The findings of the PISA team where reinforced by the study “Back to School: How parent involvement affects student achievement” conducted by the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education and written up in a recent issue of The American School Board Journal by Patti Barth, the center’s director as cited by Friedman:
“Parent involvement can take many forms, but only a few of them relate to higher student performance. Of those that work, parental actions that support children’s learning at home are most likely to have an impact on academic achievement at school.
“Monitoring homework; making sure children get to school; rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of going to college. These parent actions are linked to better attendance, grades, test scores, and preparation for college,” Barth wrote. “The study found that getting parents involved with their children’s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending P.T.A. and school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fund-raising, and showing up at back-to-school nights.”
Friedman has now become part of my team to improve student achievement because he addressed the fact few journalists have addressed: parental impact upon education is significant and teachers should not be held solely accountable for test scores. Parents have always been invaluable ‘team players’ in the complex, collaborative, contact ‘sport ‘ of educating their children in my classroom. In fact, all of my most successful students had parents at home working in tandem with me in the classroom to educate their children.
Parents are student’s first teachers: from the time they are born they learn from their parents and it is parents who provide the foundation for teachers who educate their children. From my view, privileged children are those who have better parents, parents who value education and who support their children’s learning from an early age.