September/October 2013 - Testing/Assessments and Learning Standards
September 13, 2013

Engaging parents as active partners

Author: Kara Smith
Source: NYSUT United
parents and educator partners
Caption: Front row, from left: New York State PTA Vice President Bonnie Russell, First Vice President Janet Meyerson, President Lana Ajemian, Secretary Gracemarie Rozea and Executive Administrator Rick Longhurst. Back row, from left: Treasurer Neil Johanning, Vice President Penny Hollister and Vice President Al Benson. Photo via Lifetouch.

Teachers and students are not the only ones who lack the proper tools and resources they need to tackle the new Common Core Learning Standards.

Many parents are left in the dark, too.

NYSUT surveyed parents last spring to find out how much they knew about Common Core Learning Standards. The results said it all: Fewer than one-third of parents felt well-informed. The findings are backed by a recent national PDK/Gallup poll showing that 55 percent of parents surveyed said they had never heard of Common Core.

As parents this fall receive disappointing results from April's rushed - and flawed - implementation of Common Core assessments, they'll be searching for answers.

That's why NYSUT and the New York State PTA came together to fill the void and give parents the information that is not readily available from the State Education Department.

"As parents make decisions about their children's educational future, they need facts and information about what their children should know, and do, in light of these new standards," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira.

New York State PTA President Lana Ajemian joined NYSUT leaders in identifying ways the organizations can partner to help parents understand the critical transition to Common Core.

One step is the creation of "A Parent's Guide to Common Core Learning," a 16-page booklet that explains the standards and provides guidance on ways parents can help their children succeed.

"Creating 'A Parent's Guide to Common Core Learning' was a true collaboration between representatives of parents, families and educators," said Ajemian. "We hope the booklet will educate, engage and encourage parents and families to work with school staff to successfully implement and address challenges that accompany innovation and reform." The state PTA is sharing the booklet with its 300,000 members through its website and promoting it throughout the organization's 16 regions across the state.

NYSUT's partnership with the state PTA is one piece of the union's ongoing campaign to engage parents so they can make meaningful decisions about their child's education. The union has also developed a Web resource for parents - www.nysut.org/parents - and the booklet, "Getting It Right: A Parent's Guide to Student Assessment."

It's critical educators share information so parents can help spread the message - at school board meetings, during parent nights and in conversations at community activities - that schools need the proper time, support and resources from SED to implement Common Core and "get it right," Neira said.

"We remain committed to helping parents understand the potential of the Common Core. Parents know their children, and schools need time to implement the standards in a meaningful way. With solid information and real facts in hand parents can be the best advocates for their children," she said.