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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Happy talk isn't helpful: Tell parents the truth about their kids' learning

Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and president of the National Parents Union, complained on Twitter about the special-education team "who allowed our kid to fall TWO FULL GRADE LEVELS behind in reading while telling us 'everything's fine' and giving A's & B's on report cards." She had to pay for an independent assessment to get "the real story" about her child's learning problems.

In another tweet, she posted a writing assignment that made her suspicious of the assurance that her child was an A/B student.

Enough with the happy talk, editorializes Bloomberg. While nearly half of students "started the year below grade level in at least one subject," way up from 2019, most parents think their children are at or above grade level in reading and math or will catch up quickly.

Classroom grades reassure and mislead parents. Test scores may show that grades are inflated, but parents may see the scores too late to be of use, and they're often "presented in confusing language," the editorial complains.

It's been hard for schools to get struggling students to show up for supplemental instruction or summer school" because their parents don't realize they need it, Bloomberg's editorialists write. "It also weakens political incentives for districts to invest in high-quality tutoring, an extended school year and expanded school choice."

Bloomberg calls for federal law to require parents be given prompt access to test scores and for states to "encourage districts to issue report cards that combine grades with clearly worded analyses of standardized test scores that track students’ progress over time." In addition, "efforts to build digital portals that allow parents to access their students’ full testing history, as Texas has done, should be expanded."

House Republicans have introduced a Parents' Bill of Rights that would "require schools to provide parents with a list of books and reading materials available in the school library as well as posting curriculum publicly," reports CNN. "The proposed legislation also affirms parents’ rights to address school boards and receive information about violent activity in their child’s school." It's not likely to get past the Senate.

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