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October 1, 2008
Vol. 66
No. 2

Bits from the Blog

      Inservice, the ASCD blog, is a place for educators to gather and discuss current issues in education. To join the conversation, visit Comments below have been edited for length and clarity.
      In response to “PDK/Gallup Poll: Americans Are Losing Faith in Standardized Testing”:
      I think that standardized testing would come to an immediate halt if legislators—state and national—had to show their competence by taking tests. It is interesting that we're quick to force kids to take tests, but we wouldn't put up with this same situation for adults. —Bob from Oregon
      Politicians should stay out of creating standards for schools. They do not have the background. They have a hard enough time setting standards for themselves. Maybe Bob is right. Let's create a test for our politicians to show how much they know. I do not think they would pass. —Rebecca
      If we test at all, it should be diagnostic. Testing should only be used to learn more about the strengths and areas for improvement. Instead of closing gaps, by teaching for tests we are creating and widening gaps and pushing students out. Test prep is expensive; let's use the money to create internships and more learning experiences that truly engage and motivate our youth. —Michele Beckley
      In response to “Most-Clicked: Neuman Espouses Broader, Bolder”:
      Until our society values children enough to help those families that must work two shifts in order to barely make ends meet, the achievement gap will continue. There are strategies that teachers can use to help close the gap, but ultimately schools will need concentrated help from the greater community. —Karen Erickson
      In response to “School Climate, Front and Center”:
      Our school struggles with parent participation. We have some wonderful parents who participate in activities, show up for the orientation and curriculum nights, and always give their children the attention and help they need to have from home. But what about the parents who do not come to school, do not answer the phone when we call, or do not give the children any attention when they come home from school? —Jessica Johnson
      Some of the answers to building better home-school relationships are simple but are far less practiced than would be helpful. Make initial communication positive (and personalized). You are building a relationship. Be wary of typecasting parents based on little bits that you know about them. Don't attack. Parents of difficult kids may very well be just as stressed out by them as you are—better to find ways to support one another than to assign blame.
      Think about what you want from every event and interaction. Why do you have parent-teacher conferences? This is not rhetorical. Think about what you hope to accomplish and whether conferences are the best way to accomplish it. What do parents want? Not what do you think they need—what do they want? You have to be able to listen. —Margo/Mom

      Laura Varlas is a former ASCD writer and editor.

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