Find out how kids are getting on track for standardized testing
It was early Saturday morning – one of the coldest days of the year and the school parking lot was filled with cars.
Thanks to the efforts of staff at South Junior High in Newburgh, parents and their kids, teachers, support staff and school administration got together to discuss the upcoming English Language Arts (ELA) standardized testing coming up.
“We want to make sure we are connecting with parents,” says Assistant Principal Mike Ragusa. Ragusa had come up with the idea to bring parents and teachers together in an informal setting to discuss test taking and how their kids are doing. “I thought it important to make a personal connection,” says Ragusa. After discussing the program with Principal Edward Mucci, it was decided to link the program to one of the upcoming standardized tests.
The hook was breakfast for this Books-n-Breakfast event, but much more was going on. Parents and teachers sat around over pancakes, eggs and coffee discussing the upcoming tests and their kids. Who could resist the smell of sweet syrup over pancakes? It helped breaking down any barriers that might inhibit communication. It opened up the dialogue.
Ragusa says that the school makes every effort to let parents know about what’s going on in the classroom. “We send home flyers, have a newsletter and placed articles and announcements in local papers,” say Ragusa. “But some parents still don’t know about the programs we offer.”
Ragusa asked members of his seventh grade teams to identify four to five kids from each team who would benefit from their parents attendance to this program. Once the names were submitted, Ragusa got on the phone to make personal contact. “I was able to get a commitment from half of the parents who guaranteed they would come.”
Ragusa was proud of the effort made by support staff and teachers that made this event a success. Will they do this again? “Maybe close to the end of the year,” says Ragusa. “It’s a lot of volunteer work on behalf of staff.”
Mike Ragusa’s Tips for Parents
- Know when your kids are taking tests.
- Follow-up and ask how things went.
- Check on homework assignments even if done in school.
- Get a class syllabus so you know what to expect from your child.
- Make sure your child goes to school prepared: breakfast in the morning, notebooks and pencils, and homework completed.
- Any questions ask your child’s teacher.
- Be involved.
Terrie Goldstein is publisher of Hudson Valley Parent and Hudson Valley Life magazines.