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Initiative Enlists Parents to be Data Consumers

In our data- and standards-permeated world of school reform, students, teachers, administrators, and schools are held accountable for achieving specified performance outcomes, but rarely has parents' accountability been brought into the equation.

So, the question is: Can parents' be motivated to use their children's academic performance data to support and ensure timely high school graduation and college readiness? That's the premise behind the New Visions for Public Schools initiative in New York City. Piloted in about 75 schools, it has shown that familiarizing parents with the meaning of student achievement data and getting them to use the data yields results in helping their kids to learn and graduate.

"As using data to improve student achievement becomes an increasingly important aspect of education reform, it is critical that parents become integral partners," the Harvard Family Research Project said in a recent report on New Visions.

The project draws parents into a Ninth-Grader Academy and a Parenting Journey curriculum to enable them to understand what test scores, grades, and other performance metrics mean for "being on track" for college, and commits parents and their children to set four goals for college readiness. Students must pass at least one Regent's exam, complete 11 credits, maintain over 92 percent attendance, and get grades of B or higher, while parents have to commit to be a key part of their child's school readiness process.

If we're going to rely on data to spur higher achievement and measurable outcomes, shouldn't parents be a part of this process? Teachers and schools can do only so much to get kids to attain high standardized-test scores. If parents can become better consumers of educational data, and pledge to use the data to push their children toward specific academic goals, can this truly help put borderline students on the path to successful graduation and college readiness?

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