Education Needs High Standards and Involvement of Families

Few months ago, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released the results from 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the test of mathematics, reading and science literacy administered to 15year-olds in the United States and 64 other countries. On this test, U.S. students scored a little above average in reading, average in science and below average in maths, compared to their peers around the globe. In general, the scores of U.S. students reflect little change as the test was last administered in 2009.

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According to OECD, the countries in which students perform the highest on PISA prioritize links between families, schools and communities and have recognized rigorous and coherent academic standards. The findings from the PISA demonstrate a clear need for the Common Core State Standards that raise the bar and offer consistency for what all students need to know to be prepared for postsecondary education and the workplace. The test results also underline the importance of family-school partnerships.

To stay competitive globally, businesses depend on a highly-qualified workforce prepared for 21st century jobs. Today's workplace requires employees to think on their feet, make decisions, and solve problems. It is imperative that students are prepared with critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to connect in these complex work environments.

As a parent, businessman and the leader of the nation's largest child advocacy association, I consider the Standards are an essential tool to make sure every child receives a high-quality education that prepares him or her for success upon graduation from high school.

In a survey out in October by Scholastic and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, teachers indicated that they expect the Common Core to improve student achievement. More than 70 percent of teachers surveyed said that they are passionate about the performance of the Common Core, believing the Standards will hold students to higher expectations and advance their ability to think critically and use reasoning skills.

As states have started voluntarily implementing the Common Core, questions and concerns have, understandably, come up. The Standards have given rise to an innovative approach to teaching, learning and assessing student knowledge that drastically changes conventional methods. The road would be bumpy as the Standards are implemented in classrooms, other than it is critical not to back away from this effort to raise the bar and command the highest expectations of our children.

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As schools transition, it is imperative that families are involved in the procedure and that families, teachers and administrators work together to maintain student success.

In excess of 40 years of research shows when families and schools work together, student achievement increases and schools improve. Education remains a shared responsibility and this is even more evident given results of the 2012 PISA.

If we want children to achieve at higher levels, it is significant that meaningful partnerships are established between schools and families in every district and every school. To build efficient family-school partnerships, families and schools must make sure they are:

Welcoming All Families into the School Community - Families must be active participants in the life of the school and feel welcomed, valued and related to each other, school staff and to what students are learning and doing in class.

Communicating Effectively - Families and school staff should engage in regular, two-way, meaningful statement about student learning.

Supporting Student Success - Families and school staff must continuously collaborate to support student's learning and healthy growth both at home and school.

Speaking Up for Every Child - Families have to be advocates for their own and other children to make sure students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that would maintain their success.

Sharing Power - Families and school staff have to be equal partners in decisions that affect children and together inform, influence and create policies, practices and programs.

Collaborating with the Community - Families and school staff must collaborate with community members to join students, families and staff to expanded learning opportunities, civic participation and community services.

Mutually, we should raise the bar and remain committed to ensuring all students graduate prepared to succeed globally. The Common Core State Standards and effectual partnerships between schools and families are imperative first steps.

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