Parents: Set goals, measure, fix

Parents strongly support standards, assessment and evaluation writes Suzanne Tacheny Kuback in an e-mail discussion on Mike Petrilli’s “problem with proficiency” post. She describes parent focus groups conducted by PIE Network.

Standards, assessment, and evaluation don’t make sense to parents as separate concepts:  to the extent they think about these things at all, it’s just stuff that they assume you do to manage sensibly. (Set goals, measure them, talk about how well you did, and then fix stuff that didn’t work.) Not only would it not make sense to parents to suggest not doing these things, parents are incredulous when they think that any of it isn’t already common practice.

Most intriguing, “standards” don’t even make sense to parents as an idea unless you measure them. I wished we’d videoed those moments in the conversations: if you suggested having standards but no common tests, parents got mad. They literally pushed chairs back from the table or threw pens down to make their point: “You can’t say you have a standard if you don’t also measure it.”

Parents are concerned about excessive testing, but they want the information, Kubach wrotes.  It’s not that they don’t trust teachers.  “They just want to know how their kids are doing and value the objective information they get from tests.”

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Just like the real world. What is this country coming to?

  2. “Parents strongly support standards” to which the widespread reply on the part of public school administrators and school board members is “who gives a damn”.

    I’m pretty sure that situation still overwhelmingly applies which means this item can be ignored every bit as safely as those that got rather wider circulation like “A Nation at Risk”.

    There are storm clouds on the horizon for the public education system but other then here or there they haven’t yet arrived. Put away the party favors.

  3. Parents are incredulous when they think that any of it isn’t already common practice.

    Of course they are! Education is literally decades behind the rest of the economy on this one.

  4. Roger Sweeny says:

    The parents are, of course, right. However, to ride my hobby horse once again, a test at the end of a unit or at the end of a school year will not primarily test actual learning. It will largely test how well the kid can “memorize and forget.”

    That is a useful skill, but it is not mastering the standards.