Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

February 11, 2014

Schools need kids' parents

The essay and short-answer portions of the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress — better known as ISTEP — will take place March 3 through March 21 — thankfully.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to extend the testing period because heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures have forced many school districts to cancel school several times. Kokomo students have missed a week and a half of class.

Ensure your children eat breakfast before heading off to school; make sure they get plenty of rest each week — and particularly these next three weeks as they prepare for the exams. Why? Parental involvement is a powerful indicator of a student’s academic performance.

At least 15 studies dating back as far as 1980 suggest children of parents who volunteer at school, check homework and talk to teachers score higher on standardized tests or earn better grades than their peers.

Over the last three decades, education has become a key political issue on the national scene. Taxpayers, as well as the Indiana Legislature, are demanding public schools spend tax money more efficiently. Parents are demanding schools better prepare their children for college or the workplace.

And the federal government has the same set of demands. Since Jimmy Carter established the U.S. Department of Education, schools have been a constant presidential campaign theme.

In short, local school corporations will continue to be required to meet ever-increasing state and national education standards. Indiana, for example, designed the ISTEP-Plus standards and exams to make students more accountable for their education, and teachers and school systems more accountable for providing that education.

Expectations for student achievement will not be lowered; they only will increase. And the best way to meet those expectations is for parents to get involved in their children’s education.

Ask your children whether they have homework and ensure they complete it. Attend parent-teacher conferences. Volunteer at school. You can chaperon a field trip or dance, and assist school employees running extracurricular activities.

Your children and their teachers need your help.

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