Thursday, May 04, 2006

Staying current with your child's graded school work

If your house is anything like mine, you're keeping a lot of proverbial plates spinning at one time. Occassionally, one of those plates is bound to succumb to gravity, crashing to the ground. Our "plate-crashing" moment happened in 1997 here in Jakarta.

I won't go into the gory details, but let's just say that it involved a second-term parent teacher conference at Pattimura that included the words, "This should come as no surprise" and "do-over."

My husband and I were flat-out gobsmacked. We had no indication that anything was amiss at school. We had nothing to which we could compare our child's situation. We never saw work coming home that would have raised a red flag. In our minds, everything in school was rolling along just as it should.

In retrospect, things worked out for the best. The teacher's assessment was entirely correct, and now the whole experience seems like a vague blip on the radar screen. But to this day, I have a nagging feeling that things could have been handled better. The teacher may have felt like she wasn't conveying any surprising information, but to us, it was a shocker.

Why dig up this story nearly 10 years later? I'm learning now that our experience might not be altogether unusual. Many other parents are talking about the amount (or lack) of graded school work they see coming home during the year. But to test that, let's try another poll:

In terms of school work you see returned home, do you think it is:
More than enough to help you understand your child's progress at school
Just enough so that you understand how well your child is progressing at school
Not enough to help you understand your child's progress at school
Free polls from

More later on the benefits -- and drawbacks -- of getting graded work back home....


At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you looked at the poll results lately? 11 of 14 respondents say graded school work is either insufficient or nonexistent. There is a pattern here...

At 9:00 PM, Blogger Cheryl van Tilburg said...

I hadn't looked at the results for a while, and you're right -- it does seems that (according to this very informal poll, at least) the issue of returning graded work to students and allowing it to go home is one that's worth examining more closely.

Clearly there are benefits to sending home graded work, and as a former teacher, I know there are downsides. But a discussion at each level (primary, middle, and high school) may help both parents and teachers understand each other's points of view -- and come to a consensus on what makes sense in terms of improving student achievement. After all -- that's the goal we're all after.

Also, just wondering if this issue has come up at any of the campus Parent Advisory Forums (PAFs). Those might be good venues for starting the discussion on returning student work to the home.


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