Conversations about Student Achievement: Parent-Teacher Interviews and Home and School Meetings

The term “student achievement” is used a lot these days when speaking of public education, and it’s a term that means different things to different people: achievement can mean good grades and high standardized test scores, or it can mean success at fostering empathetic, informed citizens.

This month presents parents, teachers, administrators and staff with two excellent opportunities to discuss student achievement from their own points of view.

Parent-teacher interviews will happen in all schools on November 6 and 7. Parents and guardians should have received information from school about the format and timing of interviews; contact your school office if you have not.

These meetings present teachers and parents with an opportunity to discuss student achievement on an individual level. How and what is your child learning this year? Are they adjusting socially and emotionally to their new grade (and, perhaps, their new school)? Are they doing their homework and handing in their assignments? What can be done at home to supplement what’s happening in school? Are they happy? These are all topics that can be brought up.

It’s helpful for parents and guardians to go to these meetings prepared, and there are some online resources that can help.

Curriculum guides for each grade level and each subject are available online and consulting these in advance of the meetings will allow you to ask informed curriculum-related questions, and to get curriculum-related suggestions about useful activities at home.

For intermediate and high school students, the Students Achieve system provides information about marks, attendance, and homework, and reviewing Students Achieve before the meeting provides an opportunity to get a sense of how your child is doing this year so far, and to prepare yourself with specific questions or concerns about learning that’s been happening in the first 40 days of school.

While parent-teacher interviews allow for discussion on an individual level, home and school meetings provide an opportunity for discussion about student achievement to happen on a school-level.

English Language School Board Superintendent Cynthia Fleet has mandated that conversations with parents and guardians about student achievement happen regularly in every school. How and when these conversations will happen will vary from school to school, but regardless of the time and format, these meetings should provide parents and guardians, teachers, administrators and staff an opportunity to review standardized testing results at a school level.

Among the questions that might be asked at these meetings: What testing has been done in the school? Who developed the tests? How are they marked? What were the school results, and how do they compare to the provincial results? What areas of concern were identified? What resources are being put in place to address those areas of concern? What can home and school associations do to support learning? Do educators in the school find standardized testing provides them with information they can take action on?

The more shared understanding there is about both individual, school and province-wide student achievement, however the term is defined, the more we can all contribute to all students achieving their potential.

The PEI Home and School Federation can provide support to local home and school associations preparing for these discussions.