“Raising the bar” for competitive high jumpers reduces the number of athletes who make it over the bar on their first try. Just so, “raising the academic bar” will result, at first, in fewer students who are designated as proficient. Expectations are higher but we can be confident that as the teachers become more adept at teaching to higher standards and as students adjust to a more in depth approach, the scores will climb and our students will benefit from aiming higher.
Education standards are a set of minimum skills and understanding that students should reach at each grade level of school. They are not a “ceiling;” teachers can teach beyond these standards. They are the minimum proficiencies that our children should attain, carefully paced so that each year’s academic expectations are realistic and build step by step to reach college and career readiness by 12th grade.
In the years of transition, parents have an important role. You may be asking: “What can I do as a parent to help my child succeed now that the education standards are more rigorous?” Here are some recommendations:
- Read with your child – especially the young ones. They learn to love reading by hearing your voice reading. Listen to them read. Sharing the stories they love is a great way to bond.
- Expect persistence. Kids can accomplish amazing things. Think back to when they were learning to walk. They fell down but tried again and again. Expect that same tenacity and encourage them, as you did then. Remind them how much they practice to perfect a dance move, a sports maneuver, a musical skill, a winning computer game strategy, whatever they work hard at. Reward persistence—it is even more important than getting the right answer.
- Take an interest in their studies and monitor their homework. Listen to them explain what they are learning. They will learn more by showing you how to balance chemical equations than if you show them how to balance chemical equations.
- Become a partner with their teachers. Find out what the course expectations are for your child and how you can support them. Then share with the teacher your observations, concerns, and the education goals that you and your child have set.
- Become familiar with helpful resources. PTA has great Parent Guides to the math and English language arts standards. Find them at /home/family-resources/Parents-Guides-to-Student-Success/Two-page-Parents-Guides-to-Student-Success-Color. Education Nation also has great parent resources, found at ParentToolkit.com.
Lastly, enjoy every stage of your children’s lives and remind them how lucky they are to have you for a parent!