FORJ (Families Organizing for Racial Justice) - This group of families in and around Newton has organized an effort to educate parents, children, and various communities about race racism, culture and identity. The following message is an update of upcoming activities for the group at Horace Mann. For anyone interested in taking part we have two events coming up:
- We will meet on Monday, November 20 at 7pm. Kate Carpenter will host at her home on 67 Prescott Avenue in Newton. We'll get to know each other, talk about our ideas, and how we can best support Mark Nardelli and the HM staff as they learn and teach about racial awareness, bias, and privilege.
- In addition, we're trying out an article/podcast discussion group on racial awareness and privilege for parents and guardians to connect, open up and learn, too. Our first meeting is Tuesday, December 12 at Horace Mann - check out the materials and RSVP here: https://tinyurl.com/FORJ-HM-DiscussionGroup
Empathy and Cultural Humility - I came across the following article and felt it was worth sharing. Much of our conversation centers around the idea when we are willing hear each other’s stories, we are more likely to reach out to be helpful to and inclusive of others. The attached article points to several tools that are worth exploring as adults:
- Over the past several years, standardized testing has been in a state of flux. We’ve had the original version of MCAS, PARCC (both online and on paper versions), and most recently the Next Generation MCAS.
- For each version, the questions and format have evolved. As I have always maintained, we do not teach to the test. Each year, as the state releases more test questions, we will do our best to help students anticipate the kinds of questions they can expect to see.
- The results, which don’t come to us until 6 months after the test is given, are generally not helpful in making instructional decisions for individual students. Instead, we rely on assessments that are given throughout the year to provide us with information about students’ strengths and weaknesses.
- MCAS results can be helpful in looking for patterns within a specific topic or instructional area. For example, if a large number of students do poorly on Number Sense questions, we can look at classroom instruction in that area.
- Real estate agencies typically use test scores as a major factor in helping families decide whether a school is high functioning. For Horace Mann, we were a 9 (out of 10) two years ago, a 7 last year, and an 8 this year. Despite the different scores, our approach and our philosophy really hasn't changed, and the scores can only indicate a portion of what is working or not working in a school. Keep in mind that there are other important variables that need to be considered in assessing how well a school functions. These variables include school climate, attitudes towards social emotional learning, commitment to values and priorities, efforts to promote citizenship, etc.
- For more information about MCAS and the dilemma schools face as standardized tests have evolved, click on the following link to a recent article in the Boston Globe: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/10/18/new-tests-bring-worse-scores-for-mass-students/YYiJaH6OCmVcOsolkYRN7M/story.html
If you have individual questions about your child’s scores, please reach out to me and/or your child’s teachers to get a better sense of where the scores fit in with the larger picture.