WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to engage parents more in their children’s education, the Obama administration on Friday released a checklist of questions they should be asking schools.
“I have never met a parent who doesn’t want the best for their child. However, it can be hard for families to know how to support their child’s education,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “Engaging with their educators is a good place to start.”
- Parent Guide: Back to School
The checklist is divided into sets of questions officials say parents should ask educators. They cover such areas as the quality of education, how progress is measured, school safety and student engagement.
It also encourages parents to talk to their children about their education.
The Education Department partnered with the United Negro College Fund, the national Parent-Teacher Association and other organizations to create the guide for parents and caregivers.
Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, said it was important to dispel the notion of minority parents being disengaged. He said parents still need assistance.
“The Parent Checklist is a powerful resource that can help gauge whether a child is being sufficiently prepared for the quality education they deserve,” said Lomax. “Help is on the way.”Key Questions to Ask at Your Child’s School
To find out if your child is getting an education that will prepare him or her for success, consider asking the following questions related to five areas of school performance:
1. Quality: Is my child getting a great education?
- How will you keep me informed about how my child is doing on a regular basis? How can we work together if my child falls behind?
- Is my child on grade level, and on track to be ready for college and a career? How do I know?
2. Ready for Success: Will my child be prepared to succeed in whatever comes next?
- How will you measure my child’s progress and ability in subjects including reading, math, science, the arts, social and emotional development, and other activities?
- How much time will my child spend preparing for and taking state and district tests? How will my child’s teacher and I know how to use the results to help my child make progress?
3. Safe and Healthy: Is my child safe and cared for at school?
- What programs are in place to ensure that the school is a safe, nurturing and positive environment? What are the discipline and bullying policies at the school?
- Are the meals and snacks provided healthy? How much time is there for recess and/or exercise?
4. Great Teachers: Is my child engaged and learning every day?
- How do I know my child’s teachers are effective?
- How much time do teachers get to collaborate with one another?
- What kind of professional development is available to teachers here?
5. Equity and Fairness: Does my child, and every child at my child’s school or program, have the opportunity to succeed and be treated fairly?
- How does the school make sure that all students are treated fairly? (For example, are there any differences in suspension/expulsion rates by race or gender?)
- Does the school offer all students access to the classes they need to prepare them for success, including English language learners and students with special needs (for example, Algebra I and II, gifted and talented classes, science labs, AP or IB classes, art, music)?
What do I do if my child is not getting educated according to the known high standards for his or her grade level and in view of his or her future?
- Keep asking questions of the teacher, principal, other parents and education experts, including questions about your school choices.
- Find other parents who have the same concerns and work together toward improving the conditions.
- Talk to the counselor, school advisory group, PTA, parent liaison or other school or program staff. They may share your concerns or be able to help you.
- Bring your concerns to the school district office, chancellor or superintendent.
- Attend public meetings and school board meetings, and tell your story.
Advice from teachers: Here are some ways teachers suggest parents can help support their child’s success in school.
- Set high expectations for your child.
- Make sure your child is in school every day and on time. Attendance matters!
- Work collaboratively with your child’s teachers and talk to them about goals and expectations for your child.
- Talk to your child each day about what he or she is doing in school and discuss what he or she learned.
- Encourage your child to complete assignments, and see that she or he finishes them.
- Attend parent-teacher conferences.
- Participate in family engagement and volunteer opportunities.