In an NWEA-Gallup survey of parents, students, and educators that we sponsored in 2016, a key finding was that more than six in 10 parents said their child’s teachers “rarely” or “never” discuss their child’s assessment results with them. And teachers reported in the survey that they felt comfortable with most aspects of assessments – but less so when it came to “communicating with parents about the results.”
While teachers are certainly on the front lines when it comes to communicating with students about testing, we can’t forget the important role that parents play in assessments. Talking to parents about assessment results is an important step in helping parents understand their child’s growth, be a partner in goal setting, and generally give them a role in improving their child’s learning.
As a teacher, there are points you can raise and tips you can impart to parents to help them not only understand assessment and assessment results, but also in preparing their children for testing.
- Have them meet with you as often as needed to discuss their child’s progress.
- Suggest activities to do at home to help improve their child’s understanding of schoolwork.
- Encourage them to have a quiet, comfortable place for their child to study at home, if possible – and free of digital distractions.
- Remind them that it’s important for their child to be well rested on school days and especially on the day of a test. Children who are tired are less able to pay attention in class or to handle the demands of a test.
- Help them understand the importance of providing books and magazines for their child to read at home. Suggest outside reading lists or provide suggestions from the public library.
When it comes to the assessment itself, teachers can start with the basics to help parents better understand the process and improve communications with them.
- Explain the purpose of the assessment – such as the difference between those used to inform classroom instruction and those needed to meet state requirements.
- Share with them which tests are being used in their child’s classroom and how the results of each are used.
- Send a communication about when the tests are being given, when the results will be available, and how the parents will receive the results.
- Share their child’s learning progress using assessment results as well as your classroom observations.
- Point out academic strengths and weaknesses and how they can help address areas of concern outside of the classroom – particularly if assessment results point to specific things they can do.
For more tips, check out this previous post with resources for communicating assessment results with parents. And share these tips with your colleagues to help parents understand assessments better and equip them with even more knowledge to help their children learn.