Stepping Up with PARCC Tips for hosting a PARCC family night in Middle School Incorporate key information throughout the evening. ● New standards create the need for new assessments. ● These tests not only evaluate students’ progress, but also show teachers and parents where a student needs help so they are able to personalize instruction to meet individual student needs. ● ● ● ● These tests will help us ensure that all students, regardless of income or family background, have equal access to a world-class education that will prepare them for in high school and beyond. These tests will help students achieve, which will lead to a better-educated workforce, stronger communities, and a more competitive United States. These tests serve as an educational GPS system, assessing where a student currently is and determining the best route to get to where they need to be by graduation so they are career and college ready. The new standards will improve student achievement over time as teachers and students get used to the new standards and tests. Reports of fewer students meeting grade-level expectations don’t necessarily mean that schools are performing worse or that students are learning less. Make families feel welcome! ● Just like you do with your students, greet families at the door and direct them to the right place. Ask student volunteers to help. ● Create a parking lot for questions or have information booths to answer families’ questions. Make sure to remind families that they will get additional information through follow up communications from the school in a newsletter, email or flier. ● Offer translation and interpretation services for families. Consider asking students’ family members to be volunteer interpreters. ● Create family packets or resource stations and include a place to take notes. Consider lending out pencils or pens to those who forgot their own. Begin with a welcome and overview. ● Explain the shift to new standards and PARCC using a PowerPoint or video. ● Address anxieties that come with change but set a positive tone throughout the night. Focus on how these changes will benefit students and provide parents with more information on how their children are doing. ● Consider inviting a principal or guidance counselor from the high school to explain how the new verticallyaligned standards set up students for success in middle school, high school and beyond. ● Encourage families to write down their questions to ask during small group sessions, at the information booths or to record in the parking lot. Tips for hosting a PARCC family night in Middle School • Score report review: Show families a sample score report, and provide a walk through on what kind of information will be displayed on different parts of the report. Discuss what information is useful to have about their students and why. Consider showing them ways in which you will use this information to help their students in the classroom. Provide sample questions that family members can ask teachers about their student’s progress and how your state, district and school will use this information to prepare students and inform their shifts to high school. Consider inviting a high school guidance counselor to serve as a resource. (We will have more information on this topic coming soon.) After the overview, consider moving families to classrooms for smaller group presentations. ● Smaller groups can help families feel more comfortable asking questions and can give them an opportunity to learn more information about how they can help their individual student. Examples of small group sessions include: • Family members become the students. Demonstrate how new standards are implemented in the classroom by delivering a lesson to the parents and family members. Consider grouping attendees by subject or grade. Ask family members to share how they solve problems or reason through the lesson just like you do with your students! • Homework help role playing. Ask for parent and student volunteers to role play working through a challenging homework assignment. Remind families that they do not have to be an expert in a subject to help with homework. Families should stay positive and value productive struggle as natural and necessary to learning. Highlight online resources that students and families can use to help with challenging content. • Student-led sessions: Have students show families how they would complete a short assignment or PARCC practice test item. Moderate the session and remain available as a resource to the students. Remind families that this may be different than the way they learned when they were in school and that is okay! • Take the test sessions: Offer parents and families the opportunity to take a PARCC practice test using the same format (tablet, desktop, or pencil and paper) as their student. If your school is using the computerbased assessment, show families the technology tutorial and explain how your school is incorporating technology into the classroom. If you school is using the paper based assessment, share your school or district’s plan to shift to computer based testing. Offer continued support beyond the family night event. ● Provide resources and information about who parents should contact if they have questions. ● For 8th grade student parents and families, consider scheduling an end-of-year family night to talk about summer strategies and what families might expect as their students transition from middle school to high school. ● Offer to host an “Understanding the Score Report” night in late spring. More resources, including a video, will be available later this year. ● Check with your local or state PTA and other PARCC partners to see if they have webinars or other parent information nights to share with attendees.