PARENTS & THE STANDARDS
North Carolina schools are improving, but there are still too many students who are not at grade level and students at high levels who are not continuing to progress. To ensure higher levels of achievement for all students, the State Board of Education adopted Student Accountability Standards. These standards, for grades 3, 5, 8 and graduation from high school (some local school systems have added additional grades) should ensure that students are ready for the next level of work before being promoted. As with other major changes, parents need to learn as much as they can about the new standards and how they affect your child. Following are some questions that you may want to ask your child's teacher or principal.
The standards are for students, but parents play an important role in supporting their children's learning. Part of this responsibility is to track your child's progress in school throughout the year, rather than waiting to see the report card. Questions that you might want to ask to help track your child's progress are:
At the start of the school year:
- What do you expect my child to learn this year in reading and math?
- What are the most important things for the children in your classroom to learn this year? What can I do at home to help my child learn these skills?
- How much time should my child spend on homework each night? How can I help with homework?
- How will my child be prepared for the end-of-grade tests (grades 3-8) or end-of-course tests (high school)?
- How will my child be prepared for the state's writing tests in grades 4 and 7?
During the year:
- Is my child working up to his or her ability?
- In what areas is he or she doing well?
- In what subjects does he or she need to improve?
- How is my child's work evaluated?
- What will be considered in making the decision about my child's promotion?
- When will I know whether my child has proven that he or she is proficient?
About the Standards
The State Board of Education approved student standards to be effective for fifth graders in 2000-01, third and eighth graders in 2001-02 and graduation for the class of 2004-5. Some local school systems have added additional grades, speeded up the schedule of implementation or made other changes to have higher standards than the state's. Become familiar with the local school board policy on student standards and feel free to ask questions about how the policy will be implemented in your child's school. For example, it is important for you to know the following:
- What standards will my child have to reach at each grade level?
- Who set these standards?
- Why have student standards been set?
- What factors are considered in promotion decisions?
- Who makes the promotion decision?
- What can I do if I do not agree with the decision?
- What about exceptional children? Do they have to meet these standards? Limited English Proficient students? Charter school students?
- What happens if my child does not pass the tests (reach Level III)?
- What happens if my child does not pass the second administration of the tests?
- What happens if my child does not pass the third administration of the tests?
- If my child is not promoted, will he or she be put back with the same teacher?
The state Student Accountability policy requires local school systems to provide focused intervention for students who are not promoted after the second or third administration of the state tests. Focused intervention may be a new term to you. Essentially, it is help that must be given to a child to help him/her learn the skills needed to reach grade level (Level III) proficiency on the state tests. Intervention may be done during the school day, in special after-school programs, in summer sessions, by specialty teachers or tutors or in a variety of other ways. For your school, it is important for you to know:
- What is intervention and is it different from remediation?
- How are state funds for intervention for Levels I and II students being spent at this school?
- What is happening differently at this school to be sure my child reaches the level he or she needs to reach to be promoted?
- What can I do at home to be sure my child is at Level III proficiency?
Will help only be available during the summer, or at other times as well?
Process for Review
If your child does not reach Level III on the tests after the second or third time he or she takes it, you or your child's teacher can request that the child be promoted anyway. The state policy requires that teachers provide documentation for this review. The committee that conducts the review must be made up of teachers and a principal from another school within the school district. This group makes a recommendation to the child's principal about whether the child should be promoted to the next grade. Parents have a right to speak on behalf of their child during the review, but they do not get to vote on whether the child is promoted. In situations involving special education students, the state policy requires that special education personnel be on the committee.
- How do I request a review of my child's performance?
- May I bring my child, an attorney, or other individuals to the review?
- What materials about my child will the teacher provide to the review committee?
- How long will the review last?
- When and how will I find out about the committee's recommendation to the principal?
- When and how will I find out about the principal's decision regarding my child?
What can I do if I do not like the recommendation of the committee? Of the principal?
Principals say that student standards will result in parents becoming more involved in their child's education. As partners with the school, you need to know what the school expects from you and how you can support your child's learning.
- How can I get involved in classroom activities? Are there other ways that I can support the school?
- How involved are parents in this school on the School Improvement Team? How can I learn more about this team and how I can be involved?
- What is the best way to communicate with my child's teacher? With the principal?
- What specific actions do I need to take at home to help my child?
- Are there ways that my employer can help this school?
- Who should I contact to request additional resources
for this school?