Traverse City Record-Eagle

Education

October 12, 2010

Ask Evelyn: Be ready at conferences

Rumors about what individual school districts and the State Department of Education are doing often float around causing unnecessary concern. Let's extinguish some rumors and share facts you need to know before parent conferences this month.

In these times of increased pressure on children to achieve, it's more important than ever for parents to realize that what happens with their children in the early years of school will impact their lives forever.

Schools are funded with our taxes. Parents have the right — and the responsibility — to ask questions about what children are learning and what methods and tools are used. Kids are an investment in the future. Know what their needs are at school and don't be afraid to ask questions if you want your investment to grow and prosper.

• Rumor: If our school has low reading scores in kindergarten or grades 1-3, the state will take away some of our funding.

• Fact: Scores in the Traverse City Area Public Schools have been among the top in the state for years; we are not in danger.

According to the No Child Left Behind Act — which has nothing to do with funds, only with testing — if a school in Michigan does not make Adequate Yearly Progress, there are federal consequences. For instance, children could be bused to another district or a district could be ordered to make improvements by a certain date.

• Rumor: The state standards for each grade level get harder each year.

• Fact: The Grade Level Content Expectations have not been revised since they were developed. But our state has just joined more than 30 other states in adopting the national Common Core standards. These replace but are very similar to the old standards.

Guidance on how to aid teachers in age-appropriate instruction to help children reach these end-of-year standards is planned for conferences this month in Grand Rapids and Boyne Mountain. Traverse City is one of the top districts in the state; it will surely be represented at the conferences. See www.gomiem.org/content/instruction.

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